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Meet with Jessica Honer and you don't just meet Jessica Honer. You meet with Honer and one of the dogs she is training at any given time. She says people just associate her with the dogs now, and if she doesn't have one with her the first question she is asked isn't, "how are you?" It's, "where's your dog?" "People are used to seeing me with a dog around town, but sometimes I just need to get groceries, I can't always have a dog with me," she says with a laugh.
Grieving parents will often start a nonprofit after the loss of a child in an effort to raise awareness or help other families that find themselves in similar circumstances. Often it's a way to focus their grief and energy and make sense of their loss. But Lynsey Maloney of Deer Creek didn't start her non profit out of grief.
The 42nd Annual Wadena Christmas Festival takes place November 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School with craft vendors, food and entertainment all on hand throughout the day to keep people busy. Also for visitors will be free horse-drawn carriage rides, Santa and Mrs. Claus, face painting, caricature drawings, and a bake sale. Shirley Uselman, executive director with the Wadena Chamber of Commerce, said there will be about 100 vendors total at the event.
Quoting everyone from Shakespeare to Abraham Lincoln, Wadena High School's production of The Legend of Robin Hood, Sort Of...., tells the story of the charismatic hero with a comical twist that English Teacher Beth Hawkins hopes audiences enjoys. "I ended up choosing this play because it was something I was familiar with," she said. "When I was in high school, we performed this my senior year." Hawkins said the students also thought it was funny. Michael Schmidt (Robin Hood) said he laughed at least ten times before he got halfway through the first act.
Empty Stocking has been a part of the Wadena community for 91 years and takes care of approximately 250 families and 600 children, and according to coordinator Kelly Wong, if the program is going to continue to serve families in need, it needs your help. "We'll be packing boxes soon, and we really need volunteers to help with that part of the project," Wong said. "They can call me at 320-429-5088 to sign up or they can check our new Facebook page, Wadena Empty Stocking Fund."
While it may feel a little too early for Christmas decorations and music, one aspect of the holiday season that can never come too early is the giving part, and that's where programs like Operation Christmas Child come in. Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization. During the project's National Collection Week (Nov. 13—20), local churches collect shoebox donations filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys for children living in poverty overseas.
Listen to Midwife Dawn Dahlgren-Roemmich talk about her early experiences out on her grandparent's farm and you get a sense that her nurturing spirit and compassion for others, even though at that age it was for animals, was developed at a young age. "My grandparents had a calving operation, and I was always telling my grandpa they don't like to be in that "jail"; I told him him he should just let me walk with them and talk with them," she says laughing. "So, I was around birthing at a young age, and I wanted to take care of moms and babies since I was little."
The Meadows of Wadena is a new senior living facility that opened September 14 with the goal of providing a home-like setting for individuals who find that living on their own might not be an option anymore. "With the services we provide, we hope to take the weight off the shoulders of families, so they don't have worry about their parents if they are in their own home and need help," according to Jen Oyster, the Director of Resident Services.
Local shutterbugs have a chance to hone their skills while earning prize money and promoting the Wadena region through a new photo contest, "Picturing the Good Life." The website for the contest and complete guidelines will be ready in about week, and the official kick-off will also happen at that time, but contest organizers Kent Scheer and Lina Belar want to get the word out about the contest now, so folks can start taking photos of the fall before all the leaves are gone.
Railroads and farming may be what most people think of when it comes to the economic history of the Wadena area, but before those industries took hold the fur trade played an active role in the area. Wadena county has three archaeological dig sites, two of which folks can visit, and numerous artifacts on display at the Wadena historical society for folks to peruse and learn about this time in history. Interim Executive Director at the Wadena Historical Society Lina Belar said when she arrived four years ago she was amazed at how much archaeology had been done in this area.