Appreciating Dr. Sandy Stover and the Founding of Care Partners

Care Partners volunteers gathered in September to appreciate Dr. Stover as she retires from Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. Sandy has been instrumental in founding and advising Care Partners.  Jayne Johnson, Care Partners’ President and an early volunteer recalled those early days. “Back in 2007 I responded to an email from Sandy on boreal  asking for people interested in attending hospice volunteer training. Sandy had received a Bush Fellowship to work on end of life issues and worked with the North Shore Health Care Foundation to forge a connection with St. Mary’s Hospice in Duluth. That didn’t work out, but Sandy organized and led the volunteers so we could provided end of life support and companionship in the Hospital and Care Center. We called ourselves “Friends of Hospice of Cook County”.

With support of the North Shore Health Care Foundation, volunteer Judy Meath and Dr. Stover gathered key players from the clinic, hospital, and county to develop the program and hire Kay Grindland as Coordinator. Sandy guided us as we became Care Partners of Cook County and focused on Palliative Care. As we have grown into an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit, Dr. Stover has remained our Medical Director and guide.”

Care Partners has grown to provide not only companionship, but Caregiver Support, Senior Rides, Chore Service, and programs on end of life and dementia.  As Dr. Stover expressed at our gathering, “You know you’ve done your job when you watch your children grow up and go on their own.”

Thanks Sandy for guiding,  supporting and being a part of Care Partners! 

Dr. Stover (front, left),  Jayne Johnson (behind), Care Partners staff: Marnie Hovland (front),  Kelly Holtzman
Dr. Stover (front, left), Jayne Johnson (behind), Care Partners staff: Marnie Hovland (front), Kelly Holtzman

To show appreciation for Dr. Stover, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic has started a fund to honor and expand her work with Care Partners. Those wishing to contribute can donate by making a check out to Care Partners and specify the Dr. Stover Honorary Fund. The fund will be used to support the heart of her work: Care Partners’ end of life care coordination and the companion volunteer program.


Ice Cream Social a Success

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Over a 120 community supporters, volunteers and visitors turned out for Care Partners’s 3rd Annual Ice Cream Social at Sydney’s Frozen Custard.  They enjoyed sundaes, chair massages from Lutzen Reflections and a silent auction before the rain herded us inside for the quilt raffle draw. Marlene Grindland of Sartell, Minnesota won the beautiful quilt made by Carol Harris. Almost $5,000 was raised to support Care Partners.

We also celebrated our Vision of a community that is fully supported to navigate through our shared journeys of aging, chronic illness and end-of-life.  Participants shared some of their visions including: better public transportation systems between Grand Portage & Duluth, companionship, school classrooms adopting residents of long term care, and free internet access.

Thanks to all who came out and to our sponsors: Sydney's Frozen Custard, Lutzen Reflections Massage Studios, Red Pine Realty, Sivertson Gallery, Blue Water Cafe, Mike’s Holiday Station, Grand Marais State Bank, Thrivent, and Ryden’s Border Store.

Thank you to our Silent Auction donors: Mary Ofjord, Ruthanne Hedstrom Vos, Harbor House Grille, Gunflint Mercantile, Mary Bebie, North Shore Winery, Jayne Johnson, Studio 61 Hair Design, Drury Lane Books, Birch Bark Gallery, The Blue Moose, and WTIP.


Enriching Lives: Interview with an End of Life Volunteer

I notice that as a companion volunteer, you focus mostly on end of life opportunities. Why is that?

No one should die alone. In my past experience as a hospice volunteer, I found that there’s a lot of things on their mind, really important things that they want to relate to somebody.

I remember a pilot from World War II. He was able to share something with me that he was afraid would offend his family—that flying across the ocean (“Just me and God”) was the most important time of his life. 

There was also a nurse who carried the stories of all the young men in Vietnam who had died in her care, afraid that when she was gone, there would be no one to remember them. I told her, “Now you’ve told me and I will think of them also.”

What are the gifts you’ve received from being with people at end of life?

It is a time people get real. It’s a gift to meet these people. Sometimes you develop a deep relationship in the moment. I’ve also gained a sense of peace about death, being with people who are not afraid.

What have you learned from these experiences?

Before you step through that door—put everything else aside. The most important thing is to be there 100% and listen with compassion. Another thing is, when someone has died, to be aware of your own feelings of loss, and give yourself what you need to recharge.


Critical Services: Interview with a Senior Rides Client

I understand you are a regular Senior Rides client?

Yes, I use them to go to Duluth for medical appointments. I also use Senior Rides to get from where I live in Lutsen to Grand Marais to see my doctor and get groceries. 

Would you recommend the service to others?

Yes, I would. The volunteers are very nice and helpful. I’ve gotten acquainted with several of them. I like the flexibility—you only have to call a few days ahead and the gals who work at Care Partners are all so helpful.

How has Senior Rides made a difference for you?

Senior Rides has helped me maintain my independence. I can’t drive at all because of poor vision and my children live out of town or are busy working. In Lutsen there is no taxi, or bus or way to buy services. It’s a critical service. I couldn’t continue to live in this county without Senior Rides.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped with Care Partners’ Senior Spring Cleanup. Groups from Spirit of the Wilderness, the Cub Scouts and Bethlehem Lutheran joined our volunteers to clean up yards & gardens for eight local seniors, who said, “It looks so wonderful.”  “They got so much done!”
Thanks to the volunteers who helped with Care Partners’ Senior Spring Cleanup. Groups from Spirit of the Wilderness, the Cub Scouts and Bethlehem Lutheran joined our volunteers to clean up yards & gardens for eight local seniors, who said, “It looks so wonderful.” “They got so much done!”


Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers are the core of Care Partners services and give back to the elders in our community in many ways.

  • Companion Volunteers provide friendly visits, check-in, or presence at end of life.
  • Senior Rides Volunteers give rides locally or to Duluth and are reimbursed for mileage.  Trainings are ongoing.
  • Chore Volunteers help with occasional chores to keep seniors safe in their homes. Trainings are on-going.
  • Board Members provide leadership, fundraising and marketing support for  Care Partners programs.

Volunteer Trainings

Senior Rides Training, Thursday, November 15, 2:30-5:30 pm,
lower level classroom, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic

Companion Volunteer Training, Wednesdays, October 10, 17, 24, 2:30-5:30 pm

Companion volunteers receive training in safety, comfort measures, end-of-life, dementia, elder awareness, spirituality and communication.

Call 387-3788 for more information or to register.

Upcoming Programs

A Conversation about Aging Services in Hovland 

at Trinity Lutheran, Thursday, October 4 at 1 pm

Join us for a conversation about supporting each other as we age:  about your needs,  Care Partners services, other aging services, and Care Partners volunteer opportunities. 

Understanding & Responding to Dementia-Related Behavior
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 3:30 - 5 pm, Sawtooth Mtn Clinic classroom

with Jenna Pogorels, Alzheimer’s Association
Behavior is a powerful form of communication and one of the primary ways for people with dementia to communicate their needs and feelings as language abilities are lost.

However, some behaviors can present real challenges for caregivers. Join us to learn to decode behavioral messages, identify common triggers, and learn strategies to help intervene with the most common behavioral challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.


Caregiver Coffee

These programs are held monthly in  Tofte. Join us to meet other caregivers, share resources and discuss caregiving.  All are welcome.  Call Care Partners at 387-3788 for more information.

Light  Up A Life


The 10th Annual “Light up a Life”  offers community members a way to celebrate the life of a loved one during the holiday season. Each donation lights one bulb in memory of a person on our memory tree. Their names will be listed in our ‘Memory Book’.  Donation forms will be available on our web site at

Light Up a Life Tree Lighting Ceremony
Thurs., Dec. 6th at 5:30 pm at the Johnson Heritage Post

The ceremony will include music, readings and the opportunity to remember a loved one. Refreshments will be served.  The event is sponsored by Care Partners and supports end of life services in Cook County.



Resource for Those Facing Dementia

by Kay Grindland

There’s nothing like the right book at the right time. I didn’t pick up Caring for a Loved One with Dementia, A Mindfulness-based Guide for Reducing Stress and Making the Best of Your Journey Together, until I was struggling with my own journey.  It was just what I needed. It gave me tools not only to find better ways to understand and respond to my mother, but also how to be there for myself.

The book is easy to read, yet packed with useful approaches. Even if you aren’t in to meditating, there are many simple ways you can bring yourself back to the present with kindness. While there are many great books about dementia, I feel this book gets to the root of many of the challenges.  To quote one review, “Manteau-Rao has beautifully matched her own experience as a caregiver with her mindfulness knowledge. The result is a book that meets the practical and emotional needs of family caregivers challenged by dementia. We dementia caregivers know all about stress, fatigue, grief, and sadness. This book opens us up to the possibility of moving beyond that by clearing our minds, opening our hearts, and partnering with our loved ones.”

We hope to organize a book study group of Caring for a Loved One with Dementia this winter. If you are interested, please contact the office. We have several copies of this book available for loan. Through funding from the North Shore Health Care Foundation, Care Partners has organized a small    library of resource and activity books on dementia. Please stop by the office if you are interested in checking them out.