Dementia Friendly Programs:

The Little County that Could
Cook County may not have all the resources that cities have, but with creative collaboration, volunteers and funding, we do a lot! This years’ Dementia Programs are a case in point.

Mindfulness-Based Dementia Care (MBDC)   A Program for Family Caregivers taught by Michelle Barclay

This unique learning opportunity with an expert in dementia care is made possible by collaboration with Cook County Higher Education and funding from Cook County Community Foundation and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation. If you can’t make the free introductory class, you can also join us for the Caregiver Luncheon at Lutsen Resort Oct. 15 to meet Michelle (see below.)

Free Introductory Class
October 14, 3-5 pm, Cook County Higher Ed
If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, join Michelle to experience what this work is about and see if the upcoming course is for you.

8-week course
Will be offered this winter at Higher Education on Tuesdays: time of day to be determined.  Jan 21, 28, Feb 4, 11, 18, March 3, 10, 17,  Retreat: March 7.
Class fee of $200 includes course, retreat and materials. Scholarships are available.

For more information contact Kay at Care Partners at 387-3788. To register call Cook County Higher Ed at 387-3411.


For the past 25 years, Michelle has provided aging-related education & consulting to help older people thrive, especially those with chronic conditions including dementia.

Mindfulness  is a skill that involves training your brain to pay attention to the present moment with nonjudgmental awareness, acceptance, openness & curiosity of “what is.”

MBDC  is an 8 week innovative, mindfulness-based program created specifically for dementia caregivers.

Learn new skills that can help you cope with the challenges and stresses of  dementia care, and may greatly improve the quality of life for you and the person in your care.

Memory Café


Memory Cafe

Care Partners will be starting a monthly Memory Café this winter!  A Memory Café is a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, listen to music, play games, and enjoy activities together. Both caregiver and care recipient can connect with others in similar situations.

Care Partners received start-up funding from the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation and a Live Well at Home grant from the MN Dept. of Human Services.  If you are interested in volunteering with the café give us a call!

Become a Dementia Friend

Monday, October 21, 4:30-5:30 pm
Hospital Multi-Purpose RoomDFMn-Logo-Tagline
Attend this one-hour informational session that helps people learn about living with dementia, change the way people think about it, and find simple things you can do to support someone living with the disease.

Get Involved!

  • Join our new organizing committee to work on making Cook County more Dementia Friendly.
  • Become a Dementia Friend.
  • Arrange a training at your workplace or church.
  • Volunteer with the Memory Café.
  • Sponsor a Memory Café.
  • Let others know about our resources.

A Sunny & Successful Ice Cream Social

Thanks to the over 150 community supporters, volunteers and visitors who came out for Care Partners’ 4th Annual Ice Cream Social at Sydney’s Frozen Custard. Heidi Doo-Kirk of Grand Marais won the beautiful quilt made by Carol Harris. All together over $5,600 was raised to support programs for those on the journey of aging and serious illness.

This year we also celebrated the heart of Care Partners: our many volunteers. Since 2015, when we became an independent 501(c)3, Care Partner volunteers have provided over 3,000 rides, 2,200 visits  and 500 chores. Volunteers have contributed over:  11,000 hours and 122,000 miles!

Bruce, Jack & John

 quilt winner Heidi-Doo-Kirk 

Many thanks to our event sponsors:  Sydney's Frozen   Custard, Red Pine Realty, Blue Water Cafe, Thrivent, Puttn’Pets, and Coldwell Banker. Thank you as well to our Silent Auction donors: Mary Ofjord, Blue Moose, Tuscarora Lodge, WTIP, Maggie Anderson, Kathy Reeves, the Angry Trout, North Shore Winery, Bluefin Bay Resort, Stone Harbor, Voyageur Brewing, Hungry Jack Lodge, Poplar Haus, Chik Wauk Nature Center, Cook County Whole Foods Coop, Gunflint Mercantile, The Big Lake, Nancy Haarmeyer, and 1st & 2nd Thrift Store.

Walking in the Moment

An Interview with Volunteer Lynn Pietrick
Their visits began with the simple goal of helping ’Tom’ get a little exercise by walking together.  Lynn had recently moved to the area and was looking for a way to connect with her new community. She had seen her mother struggle to adjust to a new living situation after a stroke, so Care Partner’s goal of helping older adults stay in their homes as long as possible resonated with her. Although a bit apprehensive – her experience with persons with dementia was somewhat limited – Lynn was ready to help.

“Getting him going wasn’t always easy.” Lynn recalled, “He often struggled to stay on task, and was usually concerned about leaving his wife at home by herself. But once we got him out the door, he was so glad to be out in nature or out in the community.” As time passed, their adventures sometimes included a trip to Sydney’s for ice cream, a stop at the Coop to pick up Mulligatawny soup, or shooting a few hoops at the Y.

Lynn did a lot of listening during those visits, and found that she and her new friend had a lot in common. “If I was stumped for something to say, I’d ask about something from his past. I was learning something new about ‘Tom’ all the time, putting bits and pieces together, almost like a detective. His family and friends, of course, struggled with the loss of the person they had known, but I came to realize that I had been given a unique gift – the joy of discovering the person who was with me, right in that moment.” 

Welcome Christie!

Christie John, our new Program & Volunteer Coordinator, started just in time to be a big help organizing the Ice Cream Social.  What a great time for her to get to know Care Partners’ wonderful volunteers and community of supporters!

Christie comes to Grand Marais from Sartell, Minnesota and before that Buckingham, Iowa. She is already busy getting the volunteer program organized and is helping with marketing and special programs.  Christie is also excited about getting Care Partners new Memory Café started.


Volunteer Trainings

Companion Volunteer Training

Wednesday, October 29, 4:30-8 pm, plus
Saturday, November 2, 9 am-3 pm
Companion volunteers befriend frail elders and those at the end of life. Volunteers work within their availability and interest and receive training in safety,  comfort measures, end-of-life, dementia, elder awareness, spirituality and communication.

Senior Rides Driver Training,
Thursday, November 5, 5-8 pm
Volunteers give rides locally or to Duluth and are reimbursed for mileage. 

Chore Volunteer Training,
Tuesday, October 8, 12:30-3:30 pm
Volunteers help with occasional indoor and outdoor chores to keep seniors safe in their homes, depending on their interest.

Call 387-3788 for more information or to register.

A Totally Unexpected Need:

Diana’s Story
“It was a totally unexpected thing.  I am a 71 years old, really active and super healthy.” Diana lives on 15 acres, having moved to the Grand Marais area a few years ago after her husband died. She had recently retired and was excited about gardening, volunteering and getting involved in the arts.

Then one day, when she was on a five-foot ladder putting vinyl up on her greenhouse/hoop house, she lost her balance and fell. Diana’s leg was caught between ladder rungs. “All of a sudden there I was with a fractured leg and foot. I couldn’t bear weight on my leg for two months, couldn’t drive, get to doctor’s appointments, shop, or do laundry—basic needs you don’t even think about.”  Being new in the area, Diana didn’t have a circle of friends or family to support her.  She didn’t qualify for support and the few folks she knew were working.

Luckily she had heard of Care Partners through work. “You guys were wonderful--a life saver to me. I don’t know what I would have done.”   Care Partners found volunteers to bring her to orthopedic appointments in Duluth &  local medical appointments and to help with shopping and laundry. They made sure she was safe getting up the stairs to her house.

“My volunteer driver, Dan, was such a nice man, and made the rides to Duluth a pleasant experience.  Sharon, another Care Partners volunteer who came to help with dishes and laundry, was so friendly.   Care Partners staff were good about calling me to see how I was doing.  I am a widow now and live alone - knowing there were people I could count on and who really did care about my well-being made all the difference to me in being able to cope.”

Until things like this happen you don’t realize what you might need--what a difference a railing on the steps can make and that a wheelchair might not fit through a doorway.

The experience has set  Diana on a path to look toward the future and get more organized, because her dream and best option is to be able to ‘age in place’.

How Will You Manage?

  • What are your goals for where and how you will live?
  • What are your health care goals and choices?
  • Is your home set up to be easy to maintain & move around in?
  • Can you reduce the risk of falls?
  • Where will you find help?

Help Planning:  Care Partner’s Care Coordinator, Marnie Hovland, can provide coaching as you plan and arrange for a home risk assessment.

Thank You Dr. Delfs

Collaboration with other service providers such as the hospital, clinic and county helps Care Partners staff make things go well for our clients. Since day one, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic has provided a Medical Director for Care Partners to advise us and be our point of contact with the clinic providers.  Many thanks to Dr. Jenny Delfs for being our new Medical Director. Jenny has been a long term supporter of Care Partners. We appreciate her availability, care and depth of knowledge.


Caregiver Luncheon

Lutsen Resort
October 15, 11:30 am
with speaker, Michelle Barclay (See bio above)
Family caregivers are welcome to join us for soup and salad, a short talk on self-care for caregivers and a chance to visit with other caregivers. Cost is $10/per person.  RSVP by October 1st to Care Partners at 387-3788.

Caregiver Coffee: 2nd Fridays, 10 am at Birch Grove in Tofte.  Meet other caregivers, share resources and discuss caregiving. 

A West End Conversation on Aging Services

November 12, 1 pm

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

Light  Up A Life

The 11th Annual “Light up a Life”  offers a way to celebrate the life of a loved one during the holiday season. Each $5 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

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Thurs, Dec. 12th at 5:30 pm
Johnson Heritage Post

The indoor ceremony   includes 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.