During the COVID Crisis and Upheaval Following George Floyd’s Murder, St. Paul Fire Captain’s Purpose is to “Mitigate Emergencies and Return Things to a Safe State”

Being a firefighter has always been a dangerous job, but during a fire, you can see the smoke and flames and feel the heat. Since mid-March an invisible virus has been added into the mix, making the firefighter’s job much more challenging. During the night of May 29 and early morning of the 30th, with 55 fires set by arson added to the formula, you get a dynamic, chaotic and volatile scenario.

John Wolfsberger is a fire captain at Fire Station 6, in St. Paul, Minnesota, on the west side of downtown. For nearly twenty years, he’s served the department. For the past two years, he’s served as fire captain, in charge of one engine with a crew of four, serving a 24-hour shift.  His crew also operates a fireboat on the Mississippi River.

John has always sought roles where he could help improve the health and safety of others. Years ago, he took an emergency medicine course and following college, got hired as an EMT for a hospital emergency room.  Working in that role, he met several firefighters who talked with him about their work. Wolfsberger was intrigued, applied to the St. Paul Fire Department and was hired as a firefighter.

In St. Paul, firefighters respond to both emergency medical crises and to fires.  He says, “The job is pretty straight forward, but what isn’t clear are the emergencies they will be faced with throughout the day.”

“Historically,” John described, “firefighters have been quick to respond to a crisis. Our approach is to overwhelm an emergency. A fire gets overwhelmed and goes away quickly. Now, in the COVID-era, we take a step back. Our instinct is to rush in and overwhelm. Now, we have to move in, approach cautiously and mitigate the problem.”

“There are new procedures to follow.  We’ve taken down the number of crew members on EMS calls to two. We’re sending two people and one person is making patient contact, and it reduces the amount of PPE (personal protective equipment) that needs to be consumed on these runs and also reduces opportunities for exposure. All of our firefighters get a health screening. They are asked how they’re feeling, if they’ve been around anyone with COVID-19 and they get their temperature taken before and after each shift. Masks, gloves and gowns are worn on medical calls. We maintain distance from one another in the firehouse. Now the 6-foot rule is in effect. We wear masks all the time and keep our distance.”

“Most fire calls to the department are to seek help with small fires,” John continued. “Food has been overcooked and is burning, or there is a small fire in the garage, or an alarm is on and can’t be turned off.  Three months ago, we would send four to eight firefighters to burst on the scene. Now, we send one-person in, to diagnose and attempt to fix the situation, before bringing in others, if necessary. That keeps our firefighters safe from unnecessary exposure.”

After the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day, May 25, protests began in Minneapolis the following day and quickly spread to St. Paul. A small percentage of the protesters began rioting, looting and burning buildings, homes and businesses.

John described, “Rioters are completely different. It got crazy early Thursday evening on the 28th. We were out all night fighting one fire after another.  There were four fires our crew fought during the last twelve hours of our shift.  Our chief told us there were between 50 – 60 fires in St. Paul that night. We were jumping from one emergency to the next. We received some reinforcements from the suburbs to different locations which is very rare. We worked a 26-hour shift fighting fires.”

To respond to the fires set by arsonists, the city beefed up the staffing of firefighters by 50%.  The chiefs set up roving strike teams, deploying all the crews and equipment in the hot spots, so they could respond fast, rather than waiting for a call in the firehouse and then responding.

While John believes his wife and family are most important in his life, he says his purpose as a fire captain is, “Mitigating emergencies and returning things to a safe state.” He and his team rescue people from dangerous situations, from fire emergencies and medical emergencies.

(Note: John’s wife, Tiffany Wolfsberger, is an ICU nurse and her story was shared on May 12, 2020 http://theboltongroup.com/frontline-icu-nurse-in-the-covid-battle-says-my-purpose-is-to-help-my-patients-feel-better/ )

Since the COVID crisis began, John believes, “The perspective towards firefighters from the greater community has changed. The role the SPFD plays hasn’t changed, but the people we serve have become more vulnerable. Between COVID and the response and outrage resulting from the Floyd murder, there is a heightened awareness that we keep people safe and there’s an appreciation, too, of first responders.”

When asked how he manages fear, John responded, “Preparedness. You are trained to do the job. Emergencies fall into a finite set of problems. Someone’s sick, there’s a fire, or there is a different type of emergency. Preparedness is the biggest and best tool to overcome fear. You don’t hear the word ‘scary’ in the firehouse. We are confident and trained. We have the training and knowledge to keep us safe.”

 

When asked what he’s learned during the COVID crisis, John said, “Other than knowing that cabin fever is not fatal, and not being sure we could handle so much isolation time and so little everything else, I’ve learned that we can handle a little bit of cabin fever and it’s not the end of the world.”

He also added, “I do think people are more aware. Essential services – hospital, fire, police – people are more mindful. Everyone sees us wearing our masks. As we interact with others, we’re wearing our masks.  We are a model on how to stay safe.  We’re required to follow these guidelines and we’re motivated to follow the guidelines as we’ve seen how people get sick. We remind others how to stay safe.”

Firefighters have had to reinvent how they respond during the COVID crisis and how they respond to fires set by arsonists during the George Floyd and police brutality protests.  And firefighters and fire captains like John Wolfsberger continue to create great impact in their service to mitigate emergencies and keeping us safe. Now, in a period of a pandemic, of an economic calamity and of social unrest, when we’re more vulnerable than ever, it’s time to appreciate the firefighters who keep us all safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making A Critical Connection: New Non-Profit Matches Seniors in Need with Volunteers

As a man who has a deep desire to be kind to all people, Plymouth, MN resident Jeff Johnson described his purpose: “To make life better for others.  We’re all put here for a reason, to serve others as best we can.”

It was late March and Jeff had been speaking with a few friends from his church about the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone was in shock about how drastically life as we knew it changed in just a few short days. Together, they discussed their concerns and the unknown consequences from the virus. People were worried about the health of their families and friends. People were out of work and some were in dire financial straits. Some suffered from depression and now self-quarantined, many felt isolated.  Together, they agreed that something had to be done.

In his job as Hennepin County Commissioner for District 7, Jeff was receiving calls from his county constituents, too, who felt the need to do something.  Many now had extra time on their hands and sought to volunteer.

Johnson recalled, “I was receiving a lot of calls from people who wanted to help. There just is not a mechanism in government for absorbing a huge influx of volunteers. We needed something to help connect the volunteers with those who were in need of help.”

A few days after his discussion with his church friends, Jeff learned of a new organization in Kentucky called the Louisville COVID-19 Match program. The purpose of this non-profit was simple.  Connect older people at-risk with a younger volunteer who was not at high risk so errands can be run, check-in calls can be made, and people can be helped.  Jeff contacted the coordinator of the Louisville program to learn about the details.

Immediately following that call, Jeff dialed in a few of his close friends from church to continue their discussion about doing something to assist those in need. During that call, the idea of Northstar Neighbor was conceived. They believed for every person in need, there’s another person ready and willing to help. The few volunteers got to work building a website, developing a launch plan and getting the word out.

The purpose of Northstar Neighbor is to spread a message of hope and compassion by serving neighbors in Minnesota who are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications.  One-on-one connections are made between a healthy volunteer who has low COVID-19 risk factors with a senior or other high-risk person in the same community for remote friendship, conversation and help with delivery of groceries or prescriptions.  Northstar Neighbor is not supported or sponsored by any governmental entity.

Johnson described Northstar Neighbor, “First and foremost, it’s about conversation and companionship and not being alone. We just match a volunteer who has time to help somebody who needs some extra help right now.  It’s nothing complex here at all, just a lot of people who need a lot of help and there’s people who want to help. We’re just connecting them.”

In the first three days of the program, with the help of media interviews and social media, over 100 volunteers were received and a couple dozen matches were made. By Memorial Day weekend, over 400 volunteers had been received and nearly 100 matches have been made.

The founding volunteers put together the matches, make an introduction and let the volunteer and the senior take it from there.  The nonprofit asks volunteers to call their senior every few days to check in on them and to pick up groceries or prescriptions for them if needed.  Once confirmed the volunteer has made the call, Northstar Neighbor moves out of the picture. Hopefully, a friendship is developed.

Johnson adds, “We now have volunteers who are calling nursing homes and assisted living centers to let them know what we’re up to. There are so many people with no one to talk to, or no family. They are so isolated and there is such a need for companionship.  The challenge is to identify those individuals who aren’t supported by religious communities or other nonprofits, the people who aren’t being looked out for and are isolated.

Johnson continued, “We have had two separate recent requests from wives who have husbands – one in his 70s and the other in his 80s – where the wives have said their husbands have no friends who are still alive. They’ve asked if we could find another man, closer in age, who can call and check in with them? So, a few seniors have volunteered to make calls, too.”

Thinking back to mid-March, when the world changed due to the COVID crisis, Johnson said, “I’ve been struck by how eager and willing people are to sacrifice and help. It’s bringing out the best in a lot of people.”

“This is a two-way street. The people volunteering are really providing a gift to people who need some help, but the people who are asking for help are providing a gift to people who desperately want to help someone right now and maybe don’t have any other avenues for it,” Johnson said.

Reflecting on the creation of Northstar Neighbor less than two months ago, Johnson said, “This initiative has also been a gift for me. I’ve experienced a different sense of purpose than I would have otherwise.”

Anyone in Minnesota wanting to volunteer or needing a volunteer should click this link: https://northstarneighbor.com

Jeff Johnson and the volunteers of Northstar Neighbor are operating purposefully, fulfilling a dire unmet need and creating quite an impact – one volunteer and one senior at a time.

How about you? Are you living purposefully and creating an impact during this uncertain time? If not, what’s the missed opportunity for you and others?

 

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me,

‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ “Fred Rogers

 

Frustrated Mom’s Startup Company to Create Home-Administered Diagnostic Test for COVID-19 


It was a Friday afternoon in 2018 and Hopkins, MN resident Patty Post found herself at the clinic, for the third time that week, waiting for her daughter to be tested for strep throat.  On Monday it was her younger son who needed a strep test, on Wednesday it was older son, and on Friday, her daughter had a sore throat, needed a test and likely a prescription.

When Patty called her children’s pediatrician Friday morning to explain her daughter’s symptoms and request a prescription, it fell on deaf ears. “Bring her in the office and we’ll test her here,” she was told. Faced with burning yet another afternoon at the doctor’s office for a simple test, Patty asked herself, “Why can’t a strep test be administered at home? It’s a simple immunoassay. Why isn’t there a home test available for parents to administer to their children who are susceptible to strep? And if the test is positive, why shouldn’t you be able to get a treatment plan virtually and a prescription?”

A self-described “problem solver”, Patty says she caught the entrepreneurial bug when she was only ten years old, when she began marketing her babysitting services to families who vacationed near her family’s lake cottage, where she lived during the summers with her parents.

Frustrated by the status quo of going to the clinic to get checked for a simple infection, motivated Patty to start up a company of healthcare and technology experts to find a better solution to this problem. She founded Checkable Medical and became its chief executive officer.

Checkable Medical’s mission is to empower individuals to make clinical, evidence-based decisions from the comfort of their homes. They are focused on delivering innovative at-home diagnostic testing to employers and individuals.

Without having to go to the doctor, Checkable Medical’s diagnostic tests paired with a digital platform allows individuals and caregivers to administer their own tests for infectious diseases thus reducing the burden on our healthcare system and minimizing exposure to the population. Checkable Medical focused their energy and resources on developing an in-home, over-the-counter in vitro diagnostic and digital platform for the rapid identification of Group A Streptococcal bacteria

In March of 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis spread across America like wildfire, Patty and her team explored whether their technology could help in the fight against the coronavirus.  They became a distributor of a COVID serology antibody test and are now creating a platform for individuals and employers to detect antibodies of COVID from home. For individuals who test positive, they should seek the assistance of a healthcare provider. For individuals who test negative, that finding may help them in getting back to a new way of normal.

Their rapid-result antibody serology test, administered at home or at the office, will determine if the individual has the antibodies to fight COVID-19.  It is anticipated the test will detect the presence of both an acute IgM and chronic IgG immune response to infection of the COVID virus with a 95% accuracy. Patty Post’s hope is the serology antibody test will be a vital tool in reopening the economy.

Post said, “We believe the test will help identify if you’ve been exposed to the virus or have developed antibodies against the virus. We believe it can be helpful in identifying asymptomatic carriers and in identifying bigger groups of individuals who have been infected – potentially helping us get back to a more normal pace faster.”

“We’re in the early stages of a clinical trial, we will have data in late summer to submit to the FDA. Our hope is for a quick approval and we can offer the test and digital platform directly to consumers and employers.

Patty is a woman of faith and says her purpose is to serve others. She believes God has given her the gifts and nudge to create and provide diagnostic tests that can be administered around the world.

She described the heartbreaking problem of young women in parts of Africa and India who die during childbirth due to undiagnosed heart conditions caused by damage from strep infections.  She sees a day when diagnostics can be brought into rural villages of third-world countries to diagnose diseases like strep, influenza and COVID and pair positive diagnoses with antibiotics.

When asked if the COVID crisis has made her purpose more profound, she said, “Absolutely, I’ve been more purposeful since the crisis. We all have felt helpless, watching the virus coming down the pike. As a family member, you can’t visit your loved one at a hospital. We all feel a great deal of uncertainty. I’m an entrepreneur and I’m very driven to make a difference.  At Checkable Medical, we have tools and we are developing new tools. It’s our place – and it’s my place – to use my gifts and our company’s tools to make a difference.”

While Checkable Medical has regulatory hurdles yet to clear, the diagnostic tools and digital platform they offer will help consumers and companies make evidence-based healthcare decisions from home and work. Their success could make for an important tool that could boost the economy by allowing employers to safely bring their people back to work.

Patty Post is a leader who is driven by her purpose.  Through her focus, energy and leadership, she and her team are making a great impact during the pandemic.

How Does a Man with a Servant’s Heart Serve Others While Under the Social Distancing Order?

By being present, feeling the nudge and taking a step. That’s what Pat Siebenaler would tell you. Just be present, feel the nudge and take a step.

For work, Pat consults on and designs data centers for a large financial institution in Minneapolis. What really fires up Pat is serving others and growing in his faith. 

Over the past few years, Pat has designed his life to have more time for service. The first week of January 2019 found Pat, his wife of 22 years, Michele, and their two college aged daughters, Emily and Erin, on a mission trip to Haiti. 

As Pat described the trip, “To see the suffering and to help in a small way was something that we are so grateful for – the beautiful people we experienced. We were there to deliver water, to be present, to build trust by helping Haitians with their basic everyday needs. The organization that coordinated the mission trip, Healing Haiti, believes the best approach to supporting local residents is teaching a trade or the best methods for growing food. Our family delivered water to desolate areas and played with kids in orphanages. 

For our family, the experience changed our perspective. It changes your materialistic view of the world. We’re very satisfied with what we have. It taught us to be more content with less.  The people we met, they have virtually no possessions and yet are still happy. Their circumstances are so dire, yet they maintain their faith. This gave me a thirst to do more.”

Pat concluded, “For our family, serving in Haiti was a family pilgrimage. We were blessed to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We washed the feet of Haitians and delivered water. I believe when you take a step into something, it leads to something else. For us, it was taking a step of obedience.”  

Later that year, the men who are part of a small group that Pat is a member, defined their individual purpose and gift statements. Through the work, Pat clarified his purpose and describes it as: 

“To encourage seekers and followers in faith to help pursue and/or deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ.” 

Pat also clarified his gift statement, with the assistance of his fellow men’s group members:  

“To use my gift of empathy and connectedness to earn trust and come alongside people to encourage and journey with them in growing their relationship with Jesus.”

Pat believes the process of getting his purpose clarified, making it explicit, has given him an ability to better focus. He believes he is more intentional operating on purpose, especially with family and friends. 

Be present, feel the nudge and take a step. Pat made a commitment to step into something more. TreeHouse is a Minneapolis-based organization that exists to create safe spaces for teens to belong.  When teens feel safe, they open up and become alive.  TreeHouse is committed to a mission to end hopelessness among teens.  

In TreeHouse, Pat saw a faith-based organization dedicated to helping kids at an early age, to assist them in finding a sense of identity and purpose through Christ. That was an appealing opportunity, to contribute to changing the trajectory of their lives and potentially of the world. If TreeHouse is successful in achieving its mission, there are fewer people who will live in despair. Pat volunteered to be a group leader of ten to fifteen kids.  Over time, he’ll likely become a mentor to some of the members of his group.    

When the COVID crisis hit, it disrupted the weekly face-to-face meeting group leaders had with their groups. Enter Zoom video conferencing service.  Each Tuesday night the larger group meets collectively then group leaders like Pat break out into sub-groups and will do so for the foreseeable future.

 Pat says, “The mission TreeHouse serves is particularly important during the COVID crisis as these teens are quarantined, in not the best of circumstances, with nothing more than social media and video games to keep them entertained. That messes with their heads.  It can lead to not thinking about anyone other than themselves.  Through TreeHouse, it allows all to get connected, it’s a social way of seeing others. We help them get out the worries they have on their minds.  Most of the teens are between 9th and 12th grades. I think more than ever, this work is needed.” 

Pat commented, “The positive from the pandemic is that we’ve learned how to use technology and going online opens up the world. It also gives me more margin – more time to listen about things that come up, maybe getting nudged and stepping into them. Things have slowed down a bit. So I can take in more. I’m using the time to follow up on things that interest me, where I can serve and to dig in deeper in my faith.” 

Pat participates in a guided prayer meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays at noon for about thirty minutes with about a dozen others through his church, Christ Presbyterian Church, using Zoom. Likewise, his Sunday community of twenty-five meet on Zoom, before they switch out to hear the weekly service.  

As soon as we went into stay-at-home mode, Pat felt the nudge.  He felt it was time to step into something more. He worried about seniors who were literally locked into nursing homes, some locked into their small rooms, with no ability to even walk down the corridor or get a breath of fresh air outside. Pat got connected with several seniors who he checks in with weekly.  

One of Pat’s seniors is in memory care. It’s very hard to communicate with him, but Pat knows he loves chocolate. So he picks up chocolate regularly and leaves it for him.  

With another, who is a long-time member of his church, he uses Zoom to connect and converse weekly. 

Another gentleman, Bob, while healthy both physically and mentally, lives in the Aurora on France senior living center due to his wife’s Alzheimers.  Confined in one room with his wife who suffers from that debilitating disease, Bob has no one else to talk to.  With the wife in the room, it began getting more difficult to speak with Bob, as she can overhear, so Pat and Bob most frequently email and text.  Pat believes Bob knows that he is cared for in that he has someone else who can just listen to him. To be present with him

One evening at 8 pm, Pat received an email from Bob. Bob said, “I’m having a tough time. My wife wants to leave and I’m having difficulty holding her back. Please pray she can find some peace.”

Pat says, “Bob wasn’t asking me to fix his problem. He was asking for prayer.  At our church, we have a list of people needing prayer.  The next day, we mobilized our prayer team and they spread the word and we all prayed. I followed up with Bob shortly afterwards. He said his wife had calmed down. He was so grateful.” 

“God puts you in places for a reason. I’m making attempts to make myself available. I try to put myself in their shoes. To let others know that other people are thinking about them. They care about their situations. Someone does care. I’ve learned that being present and walking with people in their current situation, is better than having the right words to say, the right fix or taking them out of the pain,” Pat states.

Pat believes God knows where he should go next. Pat is staying present and being mindful for nudges. When he gets the nudge, he is ready to step into something.

As a man who lives on purpose, Pat Siebenaler has a deep faith and a desire to serve. He has a servant’s heart. Although too modest to acknowledge it, Pat is having a great impact on people, one person at a time, by being present, acting on the nudge and taking the first step.  That’s a recipe for making an impact, particularly during the COVID crisis, when so many need someone to be there, to just be present.

A Reminder to Say ‘THANK U’ to the Heroes of the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s late March, 2020 and Heather Lane’s mind is racing.  The COVID-19 crisis has her locked into her Edina, MN home with her husband and two young children.  As she horribilizes about the unknowns – fears that she and her husband could lose their jobs, fears they could lose their home, fears the people she cares about lose their lives – she knows she needs to divert her attention to something more productive, so she engages her kids in a project. 

Heather says, “While I don’t have a defined life purpose, I’ve always been guided by kindness, gratitude and inclusiveness. I support all people and am recognized for my heart. I felt like I had to do something to give thanks to all of those who are serving us.” 

Heather created  a plan. In the front yard of her home, just before the sidewalk, there is a wooden timber retaining wall made from railroad ties.  She decided to draw six identical circles with her sidewalk chalk. 

 

In each circle, Heather and her family created a unique way to colorfully recognize the many heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. A circle represents a “COVID-19 hero group”. There is a dedicated circle for doctors, nurses, truckers, grocery workers, police, and firefighters. Now, their idea has exploded into a large effort stretching across thousands of yards in more than thirty-five states.

It all started as a colorful way to say thank you on the wall in front of the Lane family home.  

“People stop and honk all the time,” says Heather Lane. Lane says, “The artwork and thank you is meant for the heroes within the community, from first responders to those keeping the food supply chain intact.”

After the sidewalk chalk faded with recent rain, the Lanes made the tribute permanent with paint. 

Heather says, “Heroes today drive trucks, sweep the floors at the hospital, ring up groceries, deliver packages or mail, run into burning houses and navigate arguments. And many will need to treat the sick, face-to-face with coughing patients who are gasping for air while afraid and alone. All will show up regardless of their fears. If you are showing up and interacting with people for a paycheck, I see and honor you.” 

Now, Heather and her husband have made the artwork into yard signs, t-shirts and a fundraising effort, plus a way to support a local business. They’ve added two circles to the new design, honoring maintenance workers and teachers, too, as hero groups. 

“It’s really bringing everyone together too, and keeps us busy,” says Kristi Johnson from FastSigns, who helps Heather print the signs and fulfill the orders. 

Signs sell for $30 dollars each with $10 dollars from each sale going towards those facing food insecurities.

“We just wanted to give a small donation and to spread happiness and how grateful we are for them,” says Heather.

Heather also includes a letter with each sign, encouraging people to support local arts, nonprofits and small businesses. Her goal is to help as many people as possible, adding all of this is proof a sign of thanks goes a long way. In May, over 4000 signs have been sold.

“I was getting thank yous from people before we did the signs, doctors reaching out saying it meant a lot,” says Lane, “If you are out and going to work and interacting with people for a paycheck, that’s what the sign is for. We didn’t create the sign to be thanked.  We created it to thank all of these great workers. The sign is colorful, beautiful and bright. It grabs the heart.”

Heather continues, “This blew up in a big way. It reminds me there are a lot of amazing people in the world. When they see the bright colors and beauty, it makes them joyful.  We are all looking for what to do in this crisis.  The best ideas are ones to share. Planting the sign at the home of a “COVID 19 hero” is something that anyone can do. It’s taking a positive action. It has enabled us to cast aside fear.”

“Gratitude, generosity and vulnerability are good things,” Heather commented.  “I don’t think we say enough, ‘I’m proud of you,’ or give the ‘atta-boys’, we should in this world. We were willing to say ‘thank you’ and now others want to say it, too. It’s simple, it honors others and it feels nice.” 

Heather closes, “COVID-19 is one part deadly virus, and one part epic emotional roller coaster for the entire world. It is not something we are reading about in a textbook, rather living and experiencing in real time. There is no handbook on how to process this much emotion. And just when I was about to give up, when it all felt like too much, a bucket of chalk changed my perspective, changed my life.

As I stood there, looking at my house, feeling the love of strangers, I was given a divine reminder of where I get to isolate and likely shelter in place. I am HOME.  

That little house in the background – my little house, the one I’m afraid we will lose if normal people are left out of the equation – was built in 1908. It has seen its inhabitants through the 1918 Spanish flu, the sinking of the Titanic, the Great Depression, two World Wars and the rations that went along with that, the Holocaust and countless other tragedies, local and all around the globe, that made the front pages of the newspapers delivered to the front porch. 

It’s hard for me to imagine what all of the souls who lived here before me would think about this virus, or life in 2020 versus the lives they led in 1908, or 1945… But I can almost hear them whispering, “You will be OK.” So with that, I will now believe it to be true. I will be OK. My family will be OK. We will all be OK.”

Heather and her family are leading us. To say, ‘thank u’, to stay grateful and hopeful, to remember that bright colors and beauty helps us be joyful and optimistic, even during an uncertain time.  By showing us the way, by encouraging those on the frontline and recruiting others to recognize them, Heather is creating quite the impact. 

To get your own sign, visit https://thethankustore.com

Making Sure the Kids Get Fed: School Bus Drivers a Lifeline During COVID Crisis

For thirty-four years, Kimi Paumen has been responsible for overseeing the safe transport of students to and from school for the Buffalo / Hanover / Montrose (BHM) school district in Buffalo, Minnesota. Her drivers cover a 157 square mile area and a district population of over 25,000 residents, approximately 5,000 students who attend 5 separate elementary schools, a middle school and a high school and an alternative high school.  While she’s seen ups and downs with the economy, never has she experienced anything like the COVID-19 crisis. As contract manager for Vision of Buffalo, the contracted transportation company serving the BHM district, she’s a hands-on leader. 

 To hear her tell her story, she says, “I experience life through the bus garage.  We’ve got a family here. About 80 drivers, four mechanics and seven of us in the office.  Now, we’re down to about ten drivers.  I’m emotional about it. During normal times, the drivers will come in at 1 pm, drink coffee, talk and laugh.  Now, it’s kind of sad. I don’t hear that laughter I used to hear before mid-March. I worry about my drivers who are sitting at home.”

 She continued, “Our ten drivers now go to the schools, get the breakfasts and lunches for the families who have signed up through the school district for that assistance, and will be done in 2 to 3 hours. Five days a week.  They are accompanied by the “paras”, the educational specialist professionals, on the meal deliveries, who hand out the food to those in need.  It’s not uncommon for us now to receive thank you notes from the families.”

 Kimi describes that it is the drivers that get her out of bed in the morning.  She said her purpose was to get the kids to school on time and then get them home safely. That kept the parents happy and the school district happy.  She describes her drivers really care about the students. They go way beyond the call of duty. If a child’s parent or guardian isn’t around on the afternoon drop off, the driver will call us, we’ll call the parent or guardian, and often we’ll wait there, until their parent or guardian arrives.  Or if we can’t do that, our drivers will drop off the child on their own time. Or if a child leaves something on the bus, they’ll deliver it to the home or make arrangements to deliver it the following morning.  She says, “Those kids are theirs.” 

 Now, the purpose has shifted.  It’s all about making sure that kids who need the help are getting the nutritious food they need. 

 One of Kimi’s drivers each week makes a video for her kids, telling them how much she misses them and puts it up on Facebook. She says the kids love it and comment, “We miss you, too!”  Many of her drivers are retired. Her drivers are evenly split between men and women.  

 Kimi loves her job and says she’s glad to come to work.  She says, “It’s what I have to do.”  During this time, she sends out a weekly email to all the drivers, with an inspirational thought at the end of her message or something lighthearted to keep their spirits up.  

 To let them know she still loves them, she and her office staff, paying for it out of their own pockets, held a Taco Tuesday party for Cinco de Mayo.  Her drivers received a box lunch of tacos, served by the office staff who wore gloves and masks.  On June 4, the last scheduled day of school, they will serve a box lunch of grilled pork chops, baked beans and potato salad to all the drivers.  She says, “We want to see their faces, to have them see our faces, to let them know we’re thinking about them every day.  We want them to come back as soon as they can.”

 She describes her leadership style as one of, “A lot of love. Now, I’m sending them letters each week, and several I speak with on the phone, too, to check in.  When we’re in normal times, I make cookies and banana bread to keep them full and happy!  I’m passionate about my drivers.  I miss the social interaction. I’m a big hugger. Not sure I’ll be able to do that when we’re back, I guess the elbow bumps will have to work for then.”

 “I know my team appreciates me.  They say I’m lovable, kind and work my butt off to make others happy. Some have said they stick around for me.”

When asked what energizes and inspires her, Kimi said, “Prayers. And friendship with the drivers, office staff and mechanics.”  

 When asked how she’s making impact, Kimi said, “I keep a smile on my face. I feed my drivers. They make sure the kids get fed. Together we make sure everyone is OK. And we pray when this thing is behind us and we’ll all be back together.”

To date, since mid-March, BHM Schools Nutrition Services has given out over 145,000 free meals. They have even started distributing precooked “heat and eat” meals for the weekend.

Leading the charge in her district to make sure needy children receive at home the healthy and nourishing meals they need during the COVID-19 crisis, Kimi Paumen is creating a great impact in the BHM district. 

 

 

 

Frontline ICU Nurse in the COVID battle says, “My Purpose Is To Help My Patients Feel Better.”

Earlier in her career, Tiffany Wolfsberger worked as an emergency room nurse for two years.  While she learned a lot in the fast-paced ER environment, it was tough to develop a connection with the patient. If the patient’s ailment was fixed, that person left the hospital. If it was mitigated yet further care was necessary, the patient was transferred to another section of the hospital. The ER was too transactional for Tiffany. She transferred to the intensive care unit, where for seventeen years, Tiffany Wolfsberger, has served as an ICU nurse at Regions Hospital in Maplewood, MN, and has worked to help very sick patients get better.  

When asked about her purpose, she says, “To do anything I can do – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally –  to help my patients feel better.”

In the past two weeks, the ICU at Regions has been under siege with COVID-19 cases.  She’s seen more COVID patients enter her unit.  Tiffany said, “Yesterday, we had 17 nurses on the floor, usually we have nine nurses.”. 

By the time patients reach the ICU, they are very sick.  Many have trouble breathing on their own, are on ventilators, a number are on dialysis, with their blood pressure increasing.  With the influx of patients from nursing homes, many of whom have chronic health conditions, the spread of COVID-19 is extremely aggressive. Tiffany says, “It’s truly something we haven’t seen.”

What has been most difficult for Tiffany and her colleagues since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Minnesota in mid-March, has been the inability of family members to visit their loved ones. As Tiffany described, “The absence of family of the patients has been so hard.  Before COVID, we often learned from the family things about their loved one. ‘What does an expression look like? Are they in pain? Do they like their feet tucked in?’ Just simple things.” 

She continued, “They’re the patient’s real support.  We’re there to help them but there’s an emptiness to not having that.  The rooms and hallways at the hospital are empty. The parking garage is empty.”

“Now, when we talk with the family, there is only one contact person per family speaking with us. That’s so hard for the family members. It’s such a difficult time for them. The family is truly missed. In normal times, I do my best to get to know the family.  They become comfortable with me as they get to know me.  They know I’m there to help them.”

Tiffany added, “I want to be that person for them. I look forward to getting to work and seeing if someone is getting better.  At home, I’ll wonder, ‘Is he getting better?’ When I get to work, I’ll check the ventilator settings. Have they been adjusted, to show he’s getting better? If they are not getting better, Tiffany works to provide even more support to the family.  

On April 30, KARE 11’s Brandon Stahl and Lou Raguse ran a story “In her words: Dying from COVID, but not alone”, describing what it was like to be the only person able to care for 60-year old Don Lydick, who was dying from COVID.  They interviewed Tiffany. Part of that story is retold below.

“I came into Don’s life just at the end. I had been off work and just had come back. Don was on our floor for almost two weeks, very sick and needed ventilator support early on. The virus just took over. It changed his organ function. It’s just such a vicious virus. To see what it is doing to patients; it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Don got to the point where he couldn’t tolerate going on his back. He was on his belly for almost, I want to say four to five days. That was the only way we could keep him alive. There was nothing more we could do for him.

I first called Joanne (his sister) and explained that his face might look a little swollen because he’s been on his stomach and she might not recognize him. She was very nervous to see him. I let her know that I could make it so that she would just see the back of him, so it would look like he’s just sleeping. And it would give her peace. She said that would be great.

She said, “Can you promise me that someone’s going to be there to hold his hand and pray with him?” And I said I can promise that.

The next step was to get the video iPad, and I did a test call in the conference room. I made sure to take off all of my goggles and face mask and everything, just so they could really see who was going to be with their brother in his final moments, that I really truly was going to be there for him and treat him like he was my brother.

And I let them talk to him. It was hard to not just have tears in your eyes, to look at this monitor with loved ones saying goodbye on a screen. Nothing prepares you for that moment. And that moment will never leave me.

They said their goodbyes, they encouraged him to go find his mom and his dad. Told some funny stories. We said a prayer together. I told them I would call Joanne when he was gone.

I went back in, we made him comfortable; turned off any medication that was artificially raising his blood pressure. And I held his hands and talked to him. I talked to him like he could hear me. I told him how his sisters told him that he was loved, and I tried to treat him as if he was my brother.

I sang “When I go down to the river to pray.” I actually noticed some tattoos and said you know I would love to hear the stories about these. I rubbed his head, his shoulder, to just let him know I was there with him.

You sit and you hold somebody’s hand and you look at their breathing and how it changes. And then you just see someone so tired at peace. You see the monitor, the heart slowing and slowing and those final breaths. What I saw was somebody’s son. He took his last breath, about two hours after. I stayed with him. I said a prayer with him.

Afterwords, I just took a moment to absorb what happened. I called Joanne, I told her about how Don looked, how peaceful it was. She was very grateful. She was surprised. “You were there the whole time?” I told her: “I promised you that he would not die alone. And I was in there until he did.”

Driving home, that’s when I really let my emotions go. Because you really have to keep it all together, you don’t want to make the patient sense your sadness. But that drive home was a hard one. I really knew there was going to be more Don’s in my future. It’s sad. It’s scary, and it just really, really affects you.

I know that we are no substitute for a family member, a wife, a sister. I know that. But I do want people to know that we’re struggling with this just as much as they are. And we are all working to make this not be the case – that no one will die alone. We all stand together. We just want them to know, that we’re going to be there for them.”

When Don Lydick, a former U.S. Navy nurse took his last breath on April 10, he was not alone. Tiffany Wolfsberger held his hand while he passed.  As so many ICU nurses around the country are doing today with so many victims of COVID-19. They are our frontline heroes.  

Married for fourteen years to husband John, a St. Paul firefighter, together they are raising their 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter. Tiffany is passionate about her family, her work and her patients. 

As National Nurses Week concludes, it is important we recognize nurses like Tiffany whose purpose is “To do anything I can do – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally –  to help my patients feel better”, for the loving care and support they give patients and their families during their hour of need. These healthcare professionals have an enormous impact on making the world a better place.  Tiffany Wolfsberger is making an enormous impact. Thank you, Tiffany.

 

A Tribute to My Mom – The Game of Catch

When I was 8 years old, I was a happy 3rd grader, without a care in the world, living in a small town in Kentucky with my parents, Helen and Jack Bolton. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Helen had wanted to be a missionary when she was young; she knew how to love and take care of people. Jack was a manager at a factory. At 6’4”, 250 pounds, he was like a mountain, in my eyes: My hero.

Every day, my Dad and I played a game of catch. And throwing the baseball with dad, every night, was my favorite thing. Every night, after he returned home from the plant, he heard me ask: “Daddy, daddy! Can we play catch?”

 

One Sunday morning in late August will forever be burned in my memory. I awoke to an empty house. A few hours later, Mom, tears streaming down her face walked in the front door. She said she had taken dad to the emergency room. She sobbed, and uttered two haunting words: “Daddy died.”

We’d played catch just the night before. Now he was gone – forever – felled by a massive heart attack. My happiness vanished. I no longer took interest in school, friends–or really, much of anything. Because the game of catch was over.

That winter, Mom took matters in her own hands. She saved the S&H Green Stamps they gave you at the Winn-Dixie supermarket when you bought groceries. One warm Saturday morning in March – early spring in Kentucky – Mom said we needed to go to Louisville to run errands. She drove us to the S&H store. She told the man behind the counter that she wanted to get the catcher’s mitt that appeared on page 34 of their catalog.

More than seven months had passed since I’d last played catch. Dad and I were both left-handed, but Mom was a righty; she couldn’t use his old first baseman’s mitt. Mom handed over the stamp books, and took the mitt, and we went on our way. The game of catch was about to resume.

Even though Mom wasn’t that great at catch, she gave it her best. We played for three years – until I was 11. We filled the holes in our hearts that way. Slowly, the happiness returned.

Shortly before my 12th birthday, Mom and I moved to Chicago. To support us, she needed to begin working as a secretary–and to care for her parents, who were in failing health. She told me I could ride my bike to the park to play Little League baseball. There, as she had predicted, I found plenty of other boys to play catch. She retired the catcher’s mitt — but by then, it had served its purpose.

That game of catch with Mom was a great gift. She got me over the hump of losing Dad that way. She got me playing organized baseball, and pitching. That was an activity I could throw myself into – I was happy being on the team and playing ball. Pitching ultimately helped pay for my college education. I was blessed to play college ball, under the tutelage of outstanding coaches. I also had caring professors, and a great four years in school.

Without that game of catch with mom, I wouldn’t have…

  • Gone to college.
  • Enjoyed a 20-year career as a leader in the fast-growing medical device industry.
  • Become a CEO coach, coached a Nobel Prize-winner, written a best selling book, or given a speech at the Harvard Business School.

Nor would I be showing leaders and teams how to reinvent themselves and become happier — so they can discover how to become their best and become even more successful.

Mom was a happy leader. A great role model. She was the person who was most generous, optimistic and inspiring. She taught me to care about others. For her, what seemed to be huge problems were challenges to be chunked down and conquered.

From her, I learned how to treat people, how to handle life’s curveballs, and when to swing for the fences — lessons I use daily in my work.

She had to reinvent herself, from homemaker to single parent, breadwinner, and caregiver. She never complained; she always smiled, and encouraged others with her happiness. Mom was the most remarkable person I’ve ever met.

And, Mom told me always to give my best—and become my best. She was my role model for happiness and reinvention. This book is for her. And for you. To help you become happier, more successful, to become your best.

It’s time to get started.

From the story, The Game of Catch from: The Reinvented Me: Five Steps to Happiness in a Crazy Busy World

Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven, Mom.

 

A Source of Light In a Troubling Time: How Suzie Shane Shows Compassion and Empathy to Serve Patients and Families During the COVID-19 Crisis

 

Doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis are our modern day warriors. They inspire us as they go to work every day, at great personal risk, to keep others safe.  Often working twelve to fifteen hour shifts, they have been under incredible stress since the middle of March. Many feel anxious and afraid. Many have trouble sleeping. Many worry about bringing the virus home and infecting family members. Many have chosen to socially isolate themselves from at-risk family members, even within their own homes, and this strains the mental and emotional health of all.  It’s a stressful, anxious time for these healthcare professionals as they heroically go to work every day with great dedication.  

While the doctors and nurses on the frontlines in the ERs and ICUs are incredibly challenged, they aren’t the only ones in the hospital impacted by the pandemic. While elective surgeries have been postponed to give hospitals more capacity, other illnesses don’t stop during the crisis. Heart attacks, cancer, brain tumors, strokes, traumas still occur and must be treated.  

Since mid-March, hospitals in Minnesota – and in other states – have prohibited visitors, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  What impact does the COVID crisis have on healthcare workers, patients and families who have not been infected by the disease? 

In the neurosurgery intensive care unit at a large Minneapolis hospital, nurse practitioner Suzie Shane treats and cares for patients who have had strokes, traumas to the spine and other brain traumas.  These patients are very sick, their cognitive capabilities have been impaired and now, family members are not allowed to visit or advocate for their loved ones in person.  

Suzie said, “This is our most acute challenge today, not having family members at the hospital. Our patients are often confused or under medication, having had a brain injury.  They can’t make decisions for themselves. Not having a familiar face next to them makes them confused and lonely.  Anxiety and depression can set in. The family has typically been a constant presence and now that has been removed. It’s a tremendous challenge for our patients, the family and for us, too.”

When asked how she adjusts her approach to her work, given the current circumstances, Suzie replied, “With communication, compassion and empathy.” 

“Continuous communication with the family, more than ever before, is essential. The new experience of not being allowed to visit their loved one has to be met with more communication and an increased level of empathy and compassion for the families and for my patients.  I’ve got to be there and support them more than ever.”

Suzie continued, “Over the phone is really hard.  Last week, I called a woman who had recently undergone diagnostic imaging that demonstrated a mass in the brain. I told her she needed to come to the hospital immediately and that her husband couldn’t come in with her. Both of them were understandably upset and crying on the phone. It’s hard for me to not reach out and touch a hand or hug them, to console them.”

“So they need even more care and presence from me.  I constantly ask myself, ‘What if it were me? Or my husband? Or my children? Or my parents,’ then I  treat my patients and their families like I would like to be treated.” 

Suzie describes, “That means listening to and patiently answering their questions. This means acknowledging how hard this news must be for them. Acknowledging the challenge of not being able to be together in person while she is hospitalized. I assure them they are in great hands with our team and that we will do everything possible they can do to care for them and protect them. I remind them to be hopeful for a better future, once we get through the process. I tell them we’ll get through it.” 

Suzie said, “Years ago, I knew my calling was nursing. And that purpose gets me out of bed each morning. I’m incredibly blessed by the opportunity to care for patients. Nursing is an honor and it is a privilege to care for others in their most vulnerable state.  It is an amazing honor. That has been heightened over the last few months. Bringing them hope and comfort.  I love my work. My patients give more to me than I can ever give to them.”

When asked about her passions, Suzie replied, “My family and my patients are my passion. My husband, Steve and my two little people, Charlie and Grace. Serving others is my passion.”

Suzie described that one of the benefits from today’s challenge has been an even tighter bond with her teammates. “We’re checking in with one another and encouraging one another like never before. This is new to every one of us  and I see us taking care of each other, too.”  

She also said she’s been checking in with a lot of her nursing friends from college who live in Illinois, Washington, Hawaii as well as the Twin Cities, those who are treating patients with COVID.  She said, “It’s important to talk with those who are in it and get it. It’s important for me to talk through my thoughts and feelings and check in with others.” 

When asked how her work is creating impact, Suzie thought for a second and thoughtfully answered, “Impact. I’m being a source of light during a troubling time. Being a source of light for patients and family members. As one who cares and feels deeply. Being a source of light for my co-workers by being affirmative and positive.  Being a source of light for my husband and children by making the most of our days together. Having an attitude of gratitude for all of our blessings.”

Suzie Shane lives her life to be a source of light to others. She’s living purposefully and creating an enormous impact, especially during this uncertain time. Thank you to all the healthcare workers who are keeping us safe. Thanks to all the nurses this National Nurses Week. And a big thanks to you, Suzie, for serving with purpose, love and care. 

Providing Safe Passage Down the River of Life During the COVID-19 Crisis

By all accounts, Chris Bentley is a happy, accomplished, and successful man. He knows where he’s going and where he’s been. Blessed with a strong faith, a beautiful wife and family, a thriving business, a close network of friends and good health, life is good. Chris lives purposefully and with passion, creating a positive impact for many. 

He makes the world a better place. He operates with great clarity and is deeply fulfilled. He is at peace with his past. But it wasn’t always this way. Here’s Chris’s story. 

As the first-born child of a 19-year-old mother and a 29-year-old father, Chris remembers his childhood vividly. Now in his early 60s, he recalls how he continually sought affection and affirmation from his father while growing up. 

Chris’s father was a stoic workaholic from the Bay Area. When Chris was young, his father moved the family to Grants Pass, Oregon, his dad went to work at a small Savings and Loan bank. Chris refers to his father as “emotionally stoic.” His dad wasn’t physically abusive, but he was emotionally abusive and never expressed pleasure in any of Chris’s actions, activities, or accomplishments. While his mom loved and quietly encouraged Chris, she too, desperately sought her husband’s approval and affection and was careful to not anger him. 

As a boy and young man, Chris hoped through hard work and perfection, he would eventually earn the love of his dad. He pushed himself relentlessly. In high school, Chris excelled academically, made National Honor Society, and worked side jobs. He was an all-conference football player, an expert skier and student body president. 

A few years after their move to Oregon, Chris’ father started Orange Torpedo Trips. During the summers, Chris served as a guide on the Rogue River in southern Oregon. As a guide, he safely led novice paddlers for nearly a decade, paddling over 10,000 miles of whitewater. 

His senior year, Chris was recognized as the Jaycee’s Student of the Year and received scholarships to Oregon State and the United States Naval Academy. Unfortunately, despite the many achievements, there were no acknowledgements or compliments from his dad.

At the Naval Academy, Chris placed in the top 10% of his class, lettered in boxing and was selected as a company commander. His father never visited him, never called, and never wrote. After graduation, for the first time in four years, his father visited Chris at the Academy, but there was no “Congratulations, son. Well done. I’m proud of you. I love you.” 

Following graduation and flight training, Chris was assigned to a P3 Orion “sub hunter” squadron to hunt Soviet submarines. As a Naval Flight Officer, Chris and his crew of 13 pursued Soviet submarines in the oceans of the world. As Mission Commander, Chris made sure his crew arrived back to base safely. 

After the Cold War ended and after fourteen years of service, Chris took leave from the military and entered the private sector. 

For the first forty years of life, Chris realized he strived – to no avail – to make his father proud. He worked extremely hard, was disciplined, goal-oriented, and persistent. His motto was “Failure is not an option.” Yet, as focused and as hard as he tried to win his dad’s love, he never succeeded. As Chris recalls, “My dad never delighted in me.” 

Some years later, his dad passed away. He and Chris had been estranged for twenty years. 

Now, Chris is an accomplished and recognized financial advisor. Today he helps investors navigate up and down markets, avoid financial potholes, sail through recessions and arrive at retirement safely. 

When Chris’s colleague Dave unexpectedly and suddenly passed away, Chris assisted Dave’s widow, Liane, to get her affairs in order. 

As Chris worked with Liane, he recognized widows need help managing through the financial shocks of early widowhood, because couples often divide responsibilities and the widow doesn’t always have the knowledge or wherewithal to tackle alone what was once a dual effort. 

Chris learned that in widows’ most vulnerable of times, they may not have anyone to help them with the practical issues of maintaining a home. Perhaps their husbands handled the financial affairs and managed the investments, so they are uninformed. Or they don’t want to rely on family members for help. In a time of grief, suddenly the widow is faced with overwhelming decisions. She is simply unprepared. 

As Chris did more research, he found that while there were many books available to widows, there was no organization that provided widows with timely financial and legal guidance at no cost. 

Recognizing the need, he offered to address it with some of Liane’s new friends from a widow’s support group. The widows were extremely grateful for Chris’s guidance and interest. From this experience, he felt called to do more. 

Chris founded Wings for Widows, a public 501(c)(3) non-profit, that utilizes “angel teams” comprised of a financial professional and an experienced widow. After a comprehensive assessment of the widow’s situation, they provide the widow guidance to address her financial and legal needs. 

Wings for Widows offers a gentle hand to ensure new widows don’t face a dark and taxing time of life alone. With plans to grow Wings for Widows far beyond Minnesota, Chris has found his purpose and has taken hold of a very big dream. 

Looking back on his life and reflecting, Chris’s “red thread” of purpose – the theme that runs through his life – was suddenly apparent. It is to provide safe passage for others. He’s written his purpose statement and purpose story, which he’s allowed me to share. 

“As a young man, I was a river guide – helping our guests navigate more than 40 miles of whitewater. I provided safe passage from the put-in to the take-out.

As a naval officer, I was a Mission Commander – getting my crew to station, prosecuting enemy submarines, and returning home after 10-hour missions. I provided safe passage from take-off to landing.

As a sailor, whether skipper or crewman – I weathered storms topside, at the helm, day and night, ensuring safe passage of our sailing vessel and the passengers entrusted to my care.

As a financial advisor, I guide clients through up and down markets to help them retire comfortably and realize their dreams. I provide safe passage during a lifetime of living and investing.

As the founder of Wings for Widows, I provide safe passage for new widows, from heartbreak and loss to a future of hope and possibility.

The purpose, then, that seems to define me is: 

To provide safe passage down the river of life, helping others to experience adventure, find and feel joy, and live life fully.

The impact Chris seeks to make: “To make certain no new widow has to go it alone.”

Since COVID-19, Wings for Widows has had to pivot to fulfill its mission. As face-to-face meetings with widows are currently not possible during stay-at-home, Wings for Windows volunteers are offering more video coaching and consultation using Zoom and by phone.  They are bringing in speakers with expertise valuable to widows, such as Caryn Sullivan, a contributing columnist to St. Paul’s Pioneer Press Opinion page, a widow for over ten years and author of award-winning memoir, Bitter or Better: Grappling with Life on the Op-Ed Page, on Zoom video calls to discuss Navigating Grief and Loss in a Pandemic.

On April 27, Chris launched his new book, The Legacy Planning and Conversation Guide: The Workbook for End-of-Life Planning. The book quickly became an international bestseller in multiple categories in the USA, Canada and Australia.  

It’s the ideal playbook to help singles and couples to get their affairs in order before they die.  It is a thorough and compassionate framework which gently guides couples through the discussions they would prefer to never have.  There are things to know, things to do and things to discuss before you die. The conversation guide deftly navigates these tough topics.”  

Chris asks, “If death is a sure thing, why don’t we prepare for it? Don’t we have some moral obligation to our spouse and family members to make thing easier when we die?”  Chris adds, “This book guarantees the most important people in your life – the ones you love and care about the most – will be prepared for the day you die. By completing this workbook, you’ll have done the things necessary in life to make things more manageable in your death.”

Through Chris’s work as a financial advisor at Bentley, Kroyer & Associates, as the founder of Wings for Widows, and as an international bestselling author of The Legacy Planning and Conversation Guide – particularly during the pandemic – he’s creating an enormous impact today and in the future.  He is providing safe passage down the river of life – and beyond.