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Blessed with Life

You know the saying "it never rains but it pours?" Usually used with a negative connotation but I think it can very appropriately be applied to describe the influx of blessings in my life over the past few months.

Just ten weeks ago our family moved out of our very cute little character house in Fargo and the very scary neighborhood it sat in and moved into a little sturdier house in a fantastic neighborhood in Moorhead. And just eight weeks ago today, my husband and I welcomed our second son into the world. I got to spend time at home getting to know this brand new little person and the joy that comes with being a new

parent is incomparable to anything else I have yet experienced in my life.

Of course, there are plenty of moments when I think I must have been completely off my nut thinking that having a two-year-old and a newborn was ever a good idea! But luckily, those moments are totally overshadowed by the good ones - often when both are sleeping soundly and finally looking like little angels rather than little monsters.

There are so many things that bless my life, including a job that pays the bills and feeds my family.

I, like most people, feel especially aware of these things at this time of year. But last week, these blessings, though they may seem basic - a house, a job, a family - felt even more precious to me than ever before.

Last Friday afternoon, consumed by a to-do list that threatened to bring me to my knees and a headache to match it, my biggest concern was making it through the last half hour of the work day and ticking off as many items on my list as humanly possible. I was completely unprepared for the couple who walked out of the cold and into my office, looking for help.

I work in a church in Moorhead and so it is not uncommon for people who are down on their luck to come through, looking for financial help. This couple needed a place to stay for the night and for various reasons could not pay for a hotel room or get into a shelter. Of course we try to help whenever we can and we even have a fund designated to helping people with needs like these. Unfortunately, our fund had been

completely exhausted earlier in the week. There was no money to give to these


I offered them my list of shelters and other organizations in town they might turn to for help and a mixture of tears, frustration and fear pooled in his eyes as he looked it over and told me they had already tried all those places. As I listened to their story I learned that their biggest concern was that they not be split up for the night. The woman would have been able to get into a shelter in town but because his wallet had

been stolen and he didn't have his i.d., the man could not get in. They told me all they had left in the world was each other and they were not going separate, even for a night.

Now, a part of me wanted to say hey - if you've got a chance to get out of the cold for the night you better take it! But what he said touched me very deeply - all they had was each other and they wouldn't let go of that for anything.

We called around to see if anyone else had funds to help but the fact was that it was just before 5:00 on a Friday evening and everyone was closed or closing for the weekend or out of funds like we were. Alone in the building, I wondered what else I could do for them. In the end, I watched them walk back down the hall, out of the building, and back out into the dark and the cold.

By now I was late picking up my kids from daycare and my husband from work and I hadn't finished any of the things on my huge to-do list that had seemed so important only an hour before. As I drove through town I couldn't shake an awful feeling of helplessness, shame, and the thought of the long, cold night these two were facing. How lucky and blessed I am to have a home to go to. How lucky and blessed I am to have a vehicle to get me there. And how lucky and blessed I am to have a family to be there with.

The biggest blessings in our lives don't have anything to do with all the stuff we fill our homes and our lives with, the stuff we spend our money and time and earthly resources on. To be alive and to have a beautiful family to share my life with are incredible blessings and I noticed that I've been holding them all a little tighter and a little longer this past week.

To simple, green living,

Carrie Brusven

Changing the world, one home and office at a time.

"You must be the change you hope to see in the world." -Gandhi

Carrie Brusven is an Independent Green Irene Eco-Consultant based out of Moorhead, MN and her website can be found at Carrie offers Green Home Makeovers and "Go Green" Workshops/Parties to help you on your own path to greener living. Contact Carrie to schedule a makeover for your home:

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Sherry Shadley says:

November 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Hi, Carrie:

What a touching story. I hope this couple was able to find refuge somewhere that night. I work for Mental Health America of North Dakota (MHAND) now, and I wanted to make you aware of a couple of places in the commuity (that serve homeless individuals) that you may not know about.

The Gladys Ray Shelter is open to individuals who are homeless. This facility is often referred to as a "wet house" because people who have substance use problems are allowed to stay at the shelter (although there are pretty rigid rules in place). Shower and laundry facilities are available on site.

I believe that people who stay at the Gladys Ray Shelter must leave in the morning (to look for work) unless they volunteer at the facility helping with laundry, cleaning rooms, etc. The Gladys Ray Shelter is operated through the City of Fargo and is located at 1519 1st Avenue South.

MHAND operates the Myrt Armstrong Recovery Center (MARC), which has been known as the Fargo Social Club for many years. This facility provides recreational activities to people who have behavioral health (mental illness and substance use) issues. The MARC is open from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on week days and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends, 365 days a year. A free meal is served at 5:30 p.m. on week days (I'm not sure what time meals are served on the weekend). Indivudals do not have to be members to partake in the daily meals. They can sign in as guests. Shower and laundry facilities are also available on site. The MARC has computers w/internet connection, a TV recreational area, a pool table and many other immenities.

Becoming a member of MARC is free. However, an individual must have some type of mental health diagnosis (depression, stress, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc.) to become a member of the club. Members are also eligible to receive groceries through Daily Bread, and the food is delivered to the MARC on a weekly basis.

Drugs and alcohol are not permitted on the MARC's premises. People who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs are asked to leave the facility for a period of 24 hours. The MARC is located next to St. Vincent de Paul's Thrift Store. The address is 1419 1st Avenue South.

I know these facilities are both based in Fargo, but they are accessible by bus. The bus stop for the MARC is located on the corner of 1st Avenue South and University Drive (near Tailgator's). As far as I know, neither facility requires guests or members to be residents of North Dakota.

The Social Connextion is very similar to the MARC. It's located in South Moorhead. I'm not sure if a daily meal is provided at the Social Connextion, but the facility is located at 1132 28th Avenue South. They also provide a wide range of recreational activities.

Both the Social Connextion and the MARC are organizations that participate in FMCT's STAR Program. Let me know if you would like any more information on these organzations. I would be happy to help!

All my best,

Sherry Shadley

Director of Development

Mental Health America of North Dakota

(701) 237-5871



• Carrie S Brusven says:

November 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

Thanks for all the great info Sherry! I didn't know about any of these shelters - thanks for cluing me in! I will pass this on to the team that manages our Good Samaritan Fund too.

Thanks for reading!