Category Archives: Volunteerism

January is National Mentoring Month and January 11th is ‘I Am A Mentor Day’

Cheryl Strike and Linda Oto mentoring badge Griff and Chad
I’ve been a mentor since 2009 through Connected Kids, a program of Northfield Public Schools Community Services. It’s been a great experience for me and hopefully, Chad, my mentee. We still meet regularly.

I got this email from staffers Linda Oto and Cheryl Strike yesterday:

January is National Mentoring Month, and as part of the celebration Connected Kids is participating in I Am a Mentor Day via Facebook. The first-ever I Am A Mentor Day takes place via Facebook on January 11. 

We’re asking mentors on Facebook to tell a story or anecdote about what it means to be a mentor or how being a mentor has impacted you.

See the Northfield Public Schools Community Services Facebook page and the national I Am a Mentor Day Facebook page.

Connected Kids, a program of Northfield Public Schools Community Services, currently supports 96 active matches and has served nearly 200 youth since its inception 7 years ago. Over that time, over 88 percent of youth have demonstrated improvement in academic performance and over 87 percent have improved attendance.

For more, see all my mentoring blog posts.

Ten charities to get $1,000 each from Saturday’s 10th annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk

Saturday, December 10th is the date for the 10th Annual Northfield Jingle Bell Run/Walk.

Jingle Bell Run WalkThe tradition of the Northfield Jingle Bell Run is that each year 100% of race registration fees go to a local non-profit organization. In honor of the 10th Anniversary of the event, a total of $10,000 will go to 10 worthy charities selected by 10 local groups. The exciting results will be announced on the day of the race.

Linda Tollefson, Mary Loven, Laura Tiano, Mary Carlson, Kris Estenson, Nancy Carlson Jingle Bell Run 2010 Jingle Bell Run 2010
Left photo: A group of aging mature middle-aged young and perky women runners at the GBM yesterday. L to R: Linda Tollefson, Mary Loven, Laura Tiano, Mary Carlson, Kris Estenson, Nancy Carlson.

They’re hoping that they’ll be one of the ten groups selected to designate a charity of their choice. I hope to have identified those groups by sometime tomorrow.


Donors bellying up to the Give to the Max table at GBM

Friends of the Library president Bill North (donating), Sue Lloyd,  Peggy Kelly, Steve Kelly, Betsey Spethmann, Tim Lloyd ,  Beth Kallestad, Cannon River Watershed Partnership

A group of Northfield area non-profits are staffing a Give to the Max table at GBM all day today, part of GiveMN Day. (Details here on Nfld Patch). During my office hours this morning were:

Others scheduled:

Needed Friday and Saturday: more volunteers/groups to pack food for the mobile unit of Feed My Starving Children

I got this email from Justin Stets late last night, asking me to post the info below.

Justin StetsGriff: Mea culpa.  Mea culpa.  We/I have failed to keep you (as the leader in the Northfield online community) in the loop about the 5th Annual 5th Bridge FMSC event happening tomorrow and Saturday.  I would appreciate any help you can give in posting the following information.  As important, you are always welcome to the event to pack, to take pictures, to blog or to sing (probably in that order, though I must admit I have never actually heard you croon.)

I’m a great singer, as my children will attest but I decided instead to take photos this morning when students from Bridgewater, Sibley, and Northfield High School were packing food. 

See the large slideshow of 16 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Here’s the background info from Justin:

5th Bridge is sponsoring the MobilePack unit of Feed My Starving Children in Northfield on Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12. Over the course of the two-day event, 5th Bridge aims to engage 1,300+ area residents in packing 350,000 meals for starving children around the globe and raising $84,000 to pay for the cost of the meals.   5th Bridge raised the meal total from 250,000 to 350,000 as FMSC identified the pressing and urgent need to send food to the continent of Africa.  5th Bridge has taken on that challenge and we are calling upon more volunteers to help achieve that goal and pack food for children whom you will never meet.
This community has proven to be extraordinarily generous and we’re confident we’ll raise the funds necessary to pay for the meals.  To date we’ve been successful at engaging a great range of participants. As an example, we’re expecting Sibley 5th graders and seniors from Millstream Commons on Friday morning.   So, in short, this will an event that people of all ages will find rewarding.  But we’re looking for more people power to pack meals. There are still a handful of openings for volunteers and we’d appreciate anything you can do to help spread the word.

Here are the two-hour spots we’re trying to fill:

  • Friday, November 11 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Friday, November 11 from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 12 from 8 to 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, November 12 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

All sessions will take place at Perkins Specialized Transportation (1800 Riverview Drive). A complete schedule and online registration is available on the 5th Bridge FMSC page.

Another volunteer at the Northfield Historical Society: Steve Koktavy

Chip DeMann at NHSWhenever NHS Store Manager Chip DeMann sees me taking photos downtown, he concocts some excuse to drag me into the Scriver Building.

Last week, he just had to show me his burgeoning collection of female mannequins. (Jane, doesn’t this worry you a bit?)

While we were there, he introduced me to Steve Koktavy who had volunteered to paint the inner room of the museum.

Steve Koktavy, Northfield Historical Society volunteer Steve Koktavy, Northfield Historical Society volunteer 
Steve has a commercial & industrial painting business here in Northfield, Koktavy & Daleiden. You can reach him at (612) 865-4733 or via email.

Photo album: Volunteer demolition crew saves Northfield Historical Society $9,000

A crew of Northfield Historical Society board members, staff, and volunteers took on a nasty task this morning, cleaning out the demolition debris from a second floor office of the Scriver Building.  Their efforts saved the Taking Northfield to the Next Level campaign $9,000 in renovation costs.

Among the crew: NHS Board members Debby Larsen, Scott Richardson, Jodi Lawson, and Heather Scott; store manager Chip DeMann; and Brad Ness, former DJJD chair and most recently, Lena’s main squeeze, Ole.

See my album of 16 photos, the large slideshow (recommended), or this small slideshow:

Three ways to get an announcement posted on Locally Grown

Got something to announce to the 500-1,000 people per day who visit Locally Grown?  Read on.

While we’re primarily an issues-oriented blog, we also keep connected to the Northfield community by blogging about area people, events, organizations, and businesses.

So if you have something of interest to announce, consider these options:

  • Suzannah CierniaArrange for a photo opp
    People who are willing to show up at one of my offices (tables at area coffeehouses) and have their photo taken can usually get me to blog their announcement for free. See examples here, here, and here and then contact me.
  • Become a member of Locally Grown
    Join Locally GrownYou can post 2-4 announcements/month for a measly $2.50/post. You email us the content, we create the blog post for you and publish it under your name. See recent membership posts here.
  • Become an advertiser on Locally Grown
    LG-banner-ad-purchaseA banner ad costs $4-7/week. Your ad can then link to your announcement on your website or Facebook page

If it’s a PSA (public service announcement), consider submitting it to, KYMN, Northfield Patch, and the Northfield News.

VFW hosting a benefit for the family of Don Mills today

Shannon Mills, Robbie WigleyDon Mills with daughter TaylorOur Valley Pond Townhouse Association neighbor, Shannon Mills (pictured at left with my wife Robbie), has had a lot to deal with lately. 

Her townhouse burned down in 2009, she lost her job at Froggy Bottoms when it closed due to flooding last fall, and in February, her husband, Don Mills, died of colon cancer.

According to this blog post on KYMN: VFW hosts benefit for Mills family Saturday:

The Northfield VFW hosts a benefit for the family of Don Mills this Saturday. Don passed away in February after battling cancer, leaving behind wife Shannon and three children, Taylor, Christopher and Landon…

Saturday’s benefit will feature a variety of activities, including a spaghetti dinner at 5:00, a beer bash at 6:00 and a Texas Hold ‘em tournament that begins at 8:00. There will also be a silent auction starting at 4:00. If you’d like to make a cash donation to the family, you can do so at the First National Bank of Northfield. The benefit gets underway Saturday at the Northfield VFW.