COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK // Biker completes cross-country ride to fight depression

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September 12, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss, Drew Kerr & Sarah McKenzie
Jeremy Zoss, Drew Kerr & Sarah McKenzie
Windom Park resident Mark Meier has finished a bike ride from San Francisco to New York to raise awareness about men battling mental illness.

He started the journey May 11 and rode 3,600 miles to the East Coast, completing his trek on Aug. 20.

The bike ride highlighted the nationwide launch of the Face It Foundation, a nonprofit headquartered in Northeast that works to help men talk more openly about depression. Meier, a Windom Park resident and an adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work, co-founded the nonprofit with his best friend Bill Dehkes.

Meier had a long struggle with serious depression and refused to talk about his condition for many years. Now he’s open about his previous struggles with the mental illness and is on a mission to encourage other men who have depression to talk about their troubles and seek treatment.

“We put our personal lives on hold,” Dehkes and Meier wrote an e-mail celebrating the end of their ride. “We said goodbye to our families and friends and set out to make a difference in the way this country looks and addresses depression in men. … We made it clear to the world that Face It [Foundation] will create change, provide hope and make a difference in the lives of men with depression.”

Meier’s daughter Anna, 15, rode from Denver to Ann Arbor — a 1,500-mile portion of the journey. Dehkes drove the RV.

For more information on the Face It Foundation, go to

Sheltering Arms Foundation grants nearly $500,000 to nonprofits

The Sheltering Arms Foundation, the Minneapolis-based foundation devoted to funding nonprofits that benefit children in need, has awarded $492,000 in grants to 40 Minnesota-based nonprofits. Those beneficiaries include Downtown-based organizations such as the MacPhail Center for Music, People Serving People and St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development.

“Each of these programs is working to serve vulnerable children around Minnesota,”said Sheltering Arms Foundation Executive Director Denise Mayotte. “The McPhail Center is partnering with the Wilder Center in St. Paul make music and arts a part of early childhood education for kids who wouldn’t normally have exposure to this caliber of program. The arts are an excellent way to learn and grow.”

The nonprofits awarded grants by the Sheltering Arms Foundation have a wide variety of services and programs, but they all share a common goal: to help vulnerable children and their families. “We’re looking for programs that serve the most vulnerable children,” said Mayotte. “That’s the mission of the foundation. We have a number of ways of defining that. We also look for ways for them to grow and develop their quality. In addition to the direct service grants, we’re very interested in advocacy work for children’s issues. We feel that there is a place for foundation support advocacy to gain more funds for children’s issues. We’re really proud to act in partnership with other organizations that feel
that way.”

Since its inception in 1983, the Sheltering Arms Foundation has issued grants in excess of $12 million.

Faith tour on Hennepin to fight homelessness

HENNEPIN AVENUE — The organization Downtown Congregations to End Homelesseness (DCEH) will hold a tour of three worship spaces near Hennepin Avenue on Saturday, Sept. 17. Tickets for the event cost $25 in advance, and all proceeds go to towards the DCEH’s mission of fighting homelessness.

During the tour, participants will learn about the sanctuaries, architecture and religious symbolism of the various building and enjoy food and music from the various religious traditions participating in the tour. Scheduled stops include Temple Israel, 2224 Emerson Ave. S.; Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave. S.; and St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove St.

“This is the first year, but we’re hoping to make this an annual event,” said Heidi Johnson McAllister of the DCEH. “We have 16 congregations, and we plan to visit some of their houses of worship on future tours.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Keegan’s Pub hosts “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day”

UNIVERSITY AVENUE — On Saturday, Sept. 17, Keegan’s Pub, 16 University Ave. NE, will hold its 10th annual “Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day” event, celebrating the exact halfway mark to the Irish holiday.

“This will be the 10th time we’ve hosted this event,” said pub owner Terry Keegan in a statement. “We originated it in 2002 and it gets bigger and better each year.”

Keegan’s Pub will host two days of events to celebrate the occasion. The Irish band Erin Rogue will perform at an outdoor tent party behind the pub on the evening of Sept. 16. On Saturday, Sept. 17, the tent will host performances by Scott Devlin followed by another set by Erin Rogue.

For more information, visit

The Mosaic Company commits $100,000 for famine relief

The Mosaic Company and the American Refugee Committee (ARC) have announced a  dollar-for-dollar match of up to $100,000 toward famine relief efforts in Somalia. The Minneapolis-based Mosaic Company is committing a matching grant for all donations made through and will cover all credit card transaction fees to maximize the effectiveness of all donations.

Minnesota is home to the country’s largest Somali population, and Minneapolis-based ARC has partnered with the Somali community to coordinate efforts to battle the famine in Somalia; the first declared famine in 20 years.

“By making this generous gift, Minnesotans can join Mosaic in the fight against famine in Somalia, stand with our local Somali community and demonstrate the spirit and generosity of Minnesota,” said ARC President Daniel Wordsworth in a statement. “This donation will help the people of Somalia for whom each day is a struggle to survive.”

To make a matched donation, visit

Friendship Center celebrates a 35-year run

BOTTINEAU — The Friendship Center Licensed Adult Day Program, located across from the East Side Neighborhood House at 1717 2nd St. NE, will host an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to mark its 35th year in existence.

Donna Kavanaugh, the director at the Friendship Center, said the event is a simple way of inviting the community into the service center so that people can get an idea of what they do and who they are helping.

The center is designed to be an alternative to nursing homes for independent or semi-independent seniors, offering them a chance to socialize with others their own age. Exercise, meals, trips and other events are included in the program offerings.

Friendship Center can take as many as 23 people, but Kavanaugh said there are usually around 15 participants. Because it is a small group, she said it is an intimate day center where strong bonds are formed.

“As you get older, you start to lose some of your friends, and the walls start to close in on you a bit,” she said. “Here, people can kick back and make friends and just spend time in a different way.”

Day center participants come from St. Anthony and Columbia Heights, but as far as St. Paul and St. Louis Park, Kavanaugh said.

Friendship Center is one of the oldest adult day service centers in Minneapolis. It was originally located at 2nd Avenue NE and 2nd Street NE.

Anyone interested in attending the open house is asked to RSVP by calling 612-781-2052.