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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.

 

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. 

 

Mary Bolton

Bringing Joy to Young and Old By Sharing Songs That Inspire

 

Mary BoltonHow can an elementary school music teacher make an impact on thousands of others during the COVID-19 stay-at-home crisis?  After all, teaching music at school is about active participation. Now, there is no dedicated music room, few if any musical instruments available, and physical separation and technology limitations make teaching music by Zoom a challenge.  What is a music teacher to do?

Mary Bolton’s purpose is, “I know how powerful music can be in someone’s life and how much joy and positive energy it can add. My purpose is to bring that joy to young and old by sharing songs that inspire.” She lives her purpose each day as an elementary school music teacher and a musical performer. Mary’s challenge during the COVID-19 period, like so many others, is how to stay true to her purpose while we are sheltered-in-place?

Every year, Mary’s approach on day one of school has always been to make her learning environment welcoming, exciting and fun.  She says, “I greet my students, show them love, encouragement and support in class. I’m interested in and kind to them. I’ve found that approach works well. If they feel safe and my love for them, they’ll generally return that love, and it makes it more likely they will learn and love music, which is my goal. If they love music as children, they’ll love music the rest of their lives.”

When Minnesota Governor Tim Walz shut down schools and ordered stay-at-home in mid-March, schools began distant learning shortly afterwards. Mary and her colleagues, using a new technology platform called Quaver, are now able to reach children at home so they can continue to learn music. Quaver provides songs, allows students to play a range of virtual instruments and learning games on their devices. She supplements Quaver with her own videos, music challenges and messages to stay connected with her students and keep them inspired with music. She looks forward to the day when all can be reunited at school.

In addition to her daily teaching, Mary felt there was more impact that could be made to help others through music. As a lover of live music, and with live music venues now closed indefinitely, Mary took matters in her own hands. She decided to lift the hearts and spirits of those who are missing live music. She decided to give them hope and inspiration.  And for an hour or so, she decided to help them forget their worries.

Starting Friday, March 20 at 8 pm, Mary began to broadcast live performances from her Orono home using the Facebook Live function from her page @MaryBoltonMusic.  Mary said, “People miss going out and hearing live music. We’re all stuck at home for the foreseeable future. But people can still enjoy live music.  We just have to be a little more creative.”

Performing on keyboard, Mary described her style of music. “My inspiration is to create my own version of songs that I’ve loved for years and songs that I’ve just discovered. I love all musical genres including, rock, country, folk and jazz. Some of the artists and groups who have inspired me are: Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Norah Jones, John Prine, Sade, Pat Benetar, Lady Gaga and Journey.”

 

Since her first livecast – which Mary calls her #VirtualMusicParty – Mary has sung and performed seven consecutive Fridays at 8 pm, typically performing 12 to 15 songs.  Her 23-year old son, Nick, who has returned home from southern California for the stay-at-home duration, solos two songs and joins Mary for one or two duets.

Singing and performing songs from over fifty artists, Mary’s fan, Alex Divizio of Virginia, comments, “I love your style, Mary. You can sing everything from Andy Williams to Amy Winehouse.”

Each hour-long #VirtualMusicParty is full of audience participation and engagement. Mary’s husband, Chuck, serves as the behind-the-scenes emcee.  He describes his role as, “Roadie, soundman, videographer, photographer, social media specialist, carnival barker, chef, bartender and dishwasher.”  Chuck asks people to post where they are watching from, what they are drinking and gives folks shout outs throughout the show. He interjects humor, banters back-and-forth with Mary and teases the audience to click “hearts for Mary” in order to hear more songs. Each week he shares some fun facts about Mary, a segment he calls Something About Mary.  Mary’s biggest fans “share” her broadcast to their Facebook pages, so family and friends can view, resulting in each week’s #VirtualMusicParty being seen by over 5000 people.

Mary’s fans hail from across the US, with international viewers from Canada, Japan and Taiwan, also joining the fun. Here’s what her fans say about Mary’s weekly performances:

Ellen Townsend of Hayward, WI says, “I really enjoy Mary’s Facebook Live music performances every Friday night. It’s something fun and enjoyable to look forward to after a long week working outside the home during the current situation. Mary is so talented and a joy to listen to. Her events are very well scripted and done so professionally with the help of her husband Chuck. The songs she performs are familiar and easy listening, with a different theme every week which adds to the fun.” Ellen’s husband Roy chimes in, “Every Friday morning my wife reminds me, ‘We’ve got a concert tonight!’ We look forward to them every week. Mary is a great singer and musician.”

Barb Piper of Northfield, MN says, “I like the whole family affair. Her husband and son supporting her. I enjoy the connecting of people from all over the country. I like that she is on the ‘big stage’ along with all the greats like Gaga, whomever is doing FB Live.”

A young couple in Frankfort, KY, Will Bolton and Haley Hardin, describe their views of the #VirtualMusicParty, “I have really missed family and friends during the COVID outbreak. On Friday nights, when Mary and Nick sing, I feel like I’m with them. Thank you,” writes Will. Haley adds, “I love watching Mary’s Friday night performances. She sings beautifully and needs to keep doing them. Also, I enjoy watching Nick perform.”

From Taipei, Taiwan, Apo Hsu writes, “Bravo, bravo, bravi tutti! Thank you! What a joy this is. Encore and more, Mary!”

Orono, MN residents George and Jacki and Jones tune in weekly, too. Jacki says, “We look forward to the #VirtualMusicParty every week. Your voice brings us much happiness, Mary. Beautiful!” George comments, “Mary brings great joy to all her listeners. In these times, music is the best medicine.”

Mary’s passionate about music and she is creating quite the impact, for both her students and her loyal fans of @MaryBoltonMusic. She says, “My passion for music began as a child listening to music on our big stereo with my dad, listening to my mom play the piano and playing the French horn with my sister. Since then, I was part of the school band, choir and musical theatre. In college, I decided to pursue music education and I turned my passion into my profession. I’ve been living my passion of sharing my love of music through teaching and performing for over 25 years.”

During the COVID-19 crisis, with many suffering from fear, loneliness and grief, Mary Bolton is lifting hearts. She’s living with purpose, passion and having a great impact on others during a time of need.  At a time when we could all use a little more inspiration, she’s bringing joy to young and old by sharing songs that inspire.

 

Positively Impact Others in the Chaos of Life

When the men’s small group that Dave Hemink is a member of collectively decided to mine for and define their individual life purposes, just over two years ago, little did Dave know how valuable that exercise would be in the throes of the COVID-19 crisis.

At the time, Dave was a division president of a $1B global publicly-traded medical device company. As a seasoned leader with twenty-five years of experience running companies, he knew a lot about leadership. The father of two teenage girls and married to his amazing and beautiful wife, Kristin, for nearly twenty years, Dave had a loving family and an important job. Once Dave’s purpose was clarified, it suddenly opened an entirely different way of thinking.

Purpose is the overarching guiding principle that gives your life meaning.  Most people haven’t clarified their purpose. Together with the other men in his group, Dave reflected on some deep questions, his life experiences, his values and gifts.  Dave said, “We looked within and clarified our purposes. Your purpose is deep within you, it is there. It’s up to each person to find it.”

After thoughtful consideration, Dave defined his purpose as: “I live life to break barriers, create paths and enable people to live purposeful lives, that positively impacts others, while living in the chaos of life.”

When the COVID-19 crisis hit the US in full force in March of 2020, we all experienced chaos in our lives. Dave included. Dave is the chief executive officer of Nonin Medical, a Plymouth, MN-based medical device company, that has been a world leader in innovating and manufacturing pulse oximetry systems for 35 years.  The mission of the company is to improve the quality of people’s lives throughout the world by expanding the capabilities of noninvasive measurements.

The pandemic and resulting public health crisis have created a shortage of pulse oximeters, which have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a critical clinical therapy in treating COVID-19 patients, citing: “Oxygen therapy is a major treatment intervention for patients with severe COVID-19. All countries should work to optimize the availability of pulse oximeters and medical oxygen systems.” Dave and the Nonin team provide the equipment needed for healthcare workers and patients on the frontlines of this global pandemic.

“In the past few months, Nonin has seen a dramatic increase in demand for its mobile pulse oximeters. I don’t think anybody could have predicted what we are seeing today”, said Dave. “We’ve been fighting this from day one and the global demand for pulse oximetry products globally has been unprecedented,” Dave further stated. Nonin Medical’s executive chairman, Phil Isaacson, added, “The people who have been buying from us in the past are now trying to buy 10 times more. We can’t keep up.”

Dave and the Nonin team are literally working around the clock, expanding manufacturing capabilities and strengthening their supply chain to provide pulse oximeters to healthcare professionals worldwide to diagnose and treat COVID-19. “We have product lines that are up 2,600 percent,” reported Hemink.

Dave said his purpose helps center him during this unprecedented period. “My purpose is front and center now. Your purpose is magnified at different times of your life. You live it – it is embodied in you in times like these,” said Dave.

“As a leader, you have a lot of tools at your disposal, I compare it to a mechanic’s Craftsman red tool chest. Some of the tools you use daily, some of the tools you will never use, until one day, you have a unique job that requires a unique tool.  That is where we are today.  The COVID-19 crisis has our team reaching so far in the back corners of the tool chest.  That chaos component is amazingly real. We’ve got supply chain issues and challenged suppliers. We are an essential employer and we’re committed to keeping our team members safe and well. We have customers who are demanding and desperately in need of product. Every hour it is something different. What I’ve learned is you live your purpose – and that tool chest – to guide you. To provide the team with the path”, Dave continued. “I think of purpose as the grout between the tiles. It holds everything together.”

When asked how he uses his purpose to lead his team, Dave replied, “I’m using it to create calm during the chaos, so I can give our team members the confidence to act. They are doing heroic things. The definition of a hero is an ordinary person in an extraordinary time who takes action. That describes our team members.  They are having to really stretch – sometimes doing things they’ve never done – for the greater good.  Figuring out as we go, as we’re driving 120 miles per hour. For example, helping our suppliers open shuttered factories in the Philippines and India. Finding new sources of raw materials to meet our customers’ demands. Figuring out how to process and ship orders even faster.  Working with the FDA proactively and creatively to accelerate new product approvals. We’re doing this and more, all in real time. I couldn’t be any prouder of the team and the amazing work they are doing.”

If meeting the dramatic demand for Nonin products wasn’t challenging enough, while ramping up their production capabilities, Nonin Medical has had to deal with additional chaos, when one of the first diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota was an employee of the company. “Suddenly, that individual, as well as 10% of the Nonin team, were in proactive quarantine, just when Nonin needed every hand on deck. Thankfully, no other team member to date has tested positive and the individual who tested positive has recovered, is healthy and back to work,” said Dave.

Christine Horton, Nonin’s vice president of global marketing states, “Great leaders and individuals grow from adversity and chaos. I see Dave as someone who is positively impacting others through the chaos of life. He’s navigating the company, the leadership team and individuals through this adversity in order to better everyone. It hasn’t been about Dave, about his title or any of that. He could have any title and people would follow him. He doesn’t need to lead with his title. They are following because they feel empowered when they follow him. He’s navigated us through so many obstacles, where we could have had failures, we’ve found opportunities. We are finding solutions. He’s navigating us to make the entire company better and very, very rapidly. In a very short time.”

“The character of a leader is defined in the time of a crisis. This is who we are and what Nonin is all about. It’s a new frontier and we need new solutions. We’re flexing our adaptable muscle for those on the frontlines. This can be – and will be – our finest hour. Having a clearly defined purpose is my rudder in the chaos of life, so I can provide the leadership all our stakeholders desperately need,” Dave said.

When leaders lead with a clear purpose, everyone benefits. It serves as your North Star, the overarching principle that gives your life meaning. Would you want to be led by someone without a purpose? What if that leader, without a clear purpose, was you?

Leading with purpose provides a path, that positively impacts others in the chaos of life. In today’s unprecedented time, while leading Nonin Medical, Dave Hemink is creating great impact.

“Not On My Watch!”


Frank Pleticha, a marketing research manager at a financial services firm in Minneapolis, enjoyed his job, but he wouldn’t have gone so far as to call it his purpose.

He had recently attended a seminar where the speaker challenged the attendees with what Frank described as a life-changing question: “What gives you juice?”At that time, Frank struggled to answer the question.

A few months later, a friend invited him to attend a human trafficking panel discussion at a local college. Frank described the event as a “complete eye-opener.” While Frank had heard of sex trafficking in India and Thailand, he was shocked to hear how prevalent it was across the US. The convergence of major expressways and an international airport, combined with close proximity to the rural Upper Midwest and other factors, earned the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area the dubious distinction of being one of the leading metropolitan areas in the US for sex trafficking.

Minneapolis Police Department Sergeant Grant Snyder’s remarked, “Don’t think sex trafficking is a problem in another part of town. It’s taking place within two blocks from here. Right now. It’s happening in your comfortable suburb where you live. And the kids who attend your junior high schools and high schools are being targeted. That’s a fact and that’s how insidious this problem is.”

Frank learned that human trafficking is growing faster than any other criminal industry. That commercial sexual exploitation of children victimizes two million children globally. Additionally, this modern slavery has an annual revenue of $32 billion, exceeding the annual revenues of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League – combined!

Frank volunteered for anti-trafficking training, attended more seminars and events, and watched documentaries such as Nefarious: Merchants of Soulsand The Whistleblower. As he heard the pain of the victims, their sense of loss, their lack of self-esteem and hopelessness, their stories broke his heart. And learning the average age of those forced into prostitution in the US is thirteen, he was on fire. This revelation ignited Frank’s passion to do something. He proclaimed, “No, God! Not on my watch”and he began to act.

He connected with Trafficking Justice, a Minnesota-based volunteer organization that shares facts about how people are exploited today. The organization brings hope and healing to victims. Frank learned that in order to slow the growth of sex trafficking, three audiences need to be addressed: victims, traffickers, and buyers.

Frank sees his purpose of eradicating this injustice in Minnesota similarly to how William Wilberforce, a British politician and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade in the 1800s, saw his mission. He borrowed Wilberforce’s quote to British Parliament, when he speaks to others on the evil and pervasiveness of sex trafficking in Minnesota, the US, and world. “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know.”

Frank spoke to the pastoral team and members of his church, Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park, to build awareness. Through a series of events and sheer persistence, things began to move. Frank calls the shift similar to turning a giant, heavy flywheel. It takes a lot of effort to get it moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long enough period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.

While Frank has been a catalyst, one person can’t do it alone. He’s building the team at Grace Fellowship and elsewhere to take a multi-faceted approach to addressing victims, traffickers and buyers. As Frank has mobilized his church’s talent, time and financial resources to focus on this problem, he speaks of a future vision, ideally five to ten years out, when sex trafficking in Minnesota is discussed in the past tense.

Over the past few years, Frank’s eyes have been opened to a world that he’d never seen. It’s changed the course of his life. A man of deep faith, Frank firmly believes this crisis screams for a Christian response of compassion for the victims, justice for the buyers and traffickers, combined with redemption for all. His hope is to see a recovery ministry, with each service filled with people going through the recovery process and having hope for a better tomorrow.

Frank’s goal is to bring hope to the victims and to end sex trafficking in Minnesota. He’s not doing it for the fame and adoration. Even if no one knows his name, he yearns for the day when he hopes to hear Jesus Christ say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

The crisis of modern-day sex slavery doesn’t need interested observers, it needs incurable fanatics. Frank is an incurable fanatic.[i]

Frank’s gift statement: Through my gift of empathetic and active listening, I help channel resources and contacts to the broken person sitting in front of me.

Frank’s purpose is: Being a channel for those in broken situations to get connected to the Healer.

The impact Frank is aiming for in a decade: “To eradicate sex trafficking in Minnesota and beyond!”

[i]Frank Pleticha interview by Chuck Bolton, 2019.