Support & companionship on the journey of aging and serious illness

Annual Ice Cream Social at Sydney’s Frozen Custard – August 28th! Wonderful Community Support and Engagement!

Community Engagement

By Executive Director Julie Wilson

I love the rich sense of community found here in Cook County. It is something that many communities strive for—yet seems woven into the fabric of this place and its people—whether native or transplant—wherever you came from—it becomes part of you. 

Over the past couple years as we have experienced social isolation at a societal level, it gave us all a renewed sense of understanding the importance of our inter-connectedness and the importance of engagement…coming together and sharing the experiences of life. 

As Care Partners prepares for 2023, we are excited to renew our commitment to learning and providing opportunities for learning around aging.  We are all on this journey together. We seek to provide meaningful engagement and learning opportunities for all wherever you are on that spectrum of life. In 2023 we plan to continue the Lunch & Learn educational series we began in October, the twice-monthly Cook County Caregiver Support Group that meets at Birch Grove Community Center, our monthly Memory Café at the Hub, and many other collaboration opportunities around aging and advocacy. Our Senior Rides and Chores programs provide an essential service for periodic gaps or short-term needs.

If you are interested in learning more about Care Partners – our mission and the work that we do – please reach out.  We have an extraordinary group of volunteers and staff who are passionate about what they do to come alongside our neighbors. Consider joining us!  As this newsletter goes out, we are also recruiting for a part-time Care Coordinator / Caregiver Consultant for 10-12 hours per week (job share position). Perfect for a retired nurse or social worker or pastor who would like to continue to serve the community in a flexible and meaningful way.  Share this with your friends and colleagues!

Thank you to all of you who make this mission come alive in our community – through your financial gifts, volunteerism, and collaboration. Here’s to a beautiful winter ahead.

Light Up A Life

The 14th 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 on Care Partners’ website. Donations can be made online at or mailed to: Care Partners, PO Box 282, Grand Marais, MN 55604

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Thursday, December 8th at 5:30pm
Johnson Heritage Post

Join us for a time of remembrance, candle lighting, music and blessing. We hope to provide a Zoom option for those unable to attend in person. It is our hope this remembrance is accessible to all. Call us at 387.3788 to get login information.

Memory Cafe Returns

Care Partners is excited to announce the return of the Cook County Memory Café with an informational open house on Thursday, November 17 from 1:00 – 2:30pm at the Hub/Senior Center in Grand Marais.

A Memory Café is a free, casual gathering where people with memory loss and the family or friends who care for them can come together in a safe, supportive, relaxed environment. Memory Cafés are not a form of respite care. Instead, they offer a place where both caregiver and care recipient can enjoy one another’s company and interact with others who share similar experiences.

The Cook County Memory Café will meet on the third Thursday of each month beginning in November through the support of Title IIIE and Live Well at Home grants and in partnership with The Hub/Senior Center. For more information, call Care Partners at 387-3788.

From the President

Grateful! That is the word that highlights Care Partners for me. Grateful for our new Executive Director, Julie, our amazing staff, and wonderful volunteers! I am so proud to be part of this compassionate and essential group!

Care Partners’ staff and volunteers have worked so hard to continue to connect with our clients over the past couple years and have done an amazing job. As we navigate how we live moving forward with Covid, Care Partners has continued to engage with our community, meeting with clients by phone or zoom as needed, and now visiting with clients in person once again. It is so important to be able to meet again with clients.

As a Care Partners companion volunteer in addition to serving on the Board, it is so rewarding to me personally to be able to visit with members of our community who benefit greatly from in-person visits. I encourage anyone who can fit in a little extra time to volunteer as a companion, senior ride driver, or chore volunteer. I can attest to what our volunteers have said on numerous occasions: I definitely receive more satisfaction from being a volunteer than I give.

We have also been actively seeking a couple more board members. We are so grateful (see a theme here?) for our two newest board members joining the board this fall, Beth Kennedy and Suzanne Sherman. Their passion and breadth of knowledge and community engagement will be a wonderful addition to our board and the mission of Care Partners.

We still have room for another board member. If you have skills to help advance the mission of Care Partners and a few hours a month to help, please contact me at

I am so grateful for all of our supporters – those who give financially and of their time! I feel honored to be part of Care Partners and our amazing community!

Jayne Johnson, Care Partners President

Welcome New Board Members and New Staff!

We continue to see Care Partners’ mission embraced by more members of our community—and we are so grateful to welcome these beautiful humans to our family!

New Board Members

New Staff Members

Beth Kennedy
Suzanne Sherman
Betsy Blume
Care Coordinator/

Caregiver Consultant
(job sharing with Marnie)
Frances Zigmund
Senior Services Coordinator

Care Partners has THE BEST Volunteers!

We had such a fun time celebrating our Care Partners’ Volunteers in September! We took tours of the North House Folk School followed by building our own personal pizzas that were cooked in the outdoor wood fire oven!

Next Volunteer Meeting at The HUB
November 29th , 1—2:30pm

Thank you, volunteers!

Volunteer Opportunities

Care Partners depends on community volunteers to support clients through visits, calls, deliveries, rides, and chores.  We provide training and let you choose your assignments according to your schedule and interest.

Volunteer Drivers
2-hour Self-Directed Training
Give rides locally or to Duluth and be reimbursed for mileage

Chore/Delivery Volunteers
2-hour Self-Directed Training
Help with groceries, errands, or chores around the house & year to keep seniors safe in their homes.

Companion Training
Contact Us!
Companion volunteers befriend elders through visits, calls and walks. Volunteers work within their availability and interest and receive training in safety, elder awareness, communication and more. Email or call 387-3788 for more information.

Ice Cream Social – Social Never Felt So Good!

Ice Cream Social—Thank you all who came out on a rainy day to support Care Partners mission. So many remarked of how meaningful it was to gather again together.  We long for that togetherness and comradery in the things we are involved with!  Between the Ice Cream Social and the  Quilt Raffle, Care Partners raised $3347 toward our mission in Cook County.  Thank you for your support!!

A special thank you again for the generous in-kind support of Bruce Block at Sydney’s Frozen Custard for allowing us again to take over his shop on a Sunday afternoon!  And a special shout out again to Carol Harris for the years of providing an extraordinary quilt for Care Partners’ Raffle—she set the bar high for this continued support of our mission in the community.

Thank you for your support of Care Partners’ mission!
$3,347 raised during Ice Cream Social and Quilt Raffle!

“Our family is so grateful to the Care Partners staff and volunteers for their support & friendship.”

Care partners client/family caregiver

Caregiver Coffee

Caregiver Coffees are informal gatherings open to anyone who offers care and    support to an older adult.  Participants encourage one another, share resources and discuss topics related to caregiving.  Caregivers are welcome to ‘stop by’ for coffee, tea, and conversation whenever their schedules allow!

Caregiver Coffees are offered at 10:00am the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month at the Birch Grove Community Center, 9 Good Neighbor Hill in Tofte. Call Care Partners at 387-3788 to get connected.

Lunch & Learn

Care Partners is collaborating with other community organizations and businesses to bring you monthly Lunch & Learn opportunities!  On October 26th we learned about Healthy Living For Your Brain and Body: Tips From the Latest Research. Our presenter, Jenna Pogorels with the Alzheimer’s Association, reaffirmed one thing we already knew… LEARNING is good for us!  It is one of the top ways to stave off dementia or the impacts of our aging brains. Did you know your memory was as good as it was going to get at 25 years old?! 

We were hosted by Cook County Higher Ed (CCHE),  and Claire Smith with Edward Jones provided lunch as we learned.

Mark your calendars!  Beginning in 2023, we will meet on the 4th Wednesday of each month at noon!   Join us!  Keep an eye on Care Partners website for more information and upcoming topics.

We’ll see you at CCHE at noon on Wednesday, January 25th for another great topic!

Aging Well Resources is a program of the Cook County Aging Coalition created to provide a single, easy-to-access source for information and connection to aging resources. Our Care Navigator provides information assistance over the phone, helps manage the website, and assists with communication between agencies.

Funding through the Northland Foundation’s Integrated Rural Community Aging Program helped develop the Cook County Aging Coalition and supports this project. Care Partners of Cook County has managed the development with much input and support from the Coalition. Find us at or call our Care Navigator, Christie John 855-444-3910.

Making a Difference

Thanks to your generosity, Care Partners was able support 78 senior clients in the first 3 Quarters of 2022. We appreciate the wonderful volunteers and staff who hung in there in the changing conditions of the pandemic!

  • 33 Senior Rides clients received 285 rides
  • 25 caregivers received 182 hours of coaching & support
  • 22 clients received care coordination
  • 20 chore & 12 delivery clients received 186 hours of assistance
  • 17 clients received over 525 hours of volunteer visits
  • 14 clients received 121 hours of phone call reassurance
  • 39 volunteers donated over 1433 hours

A Noble Task

An Excerpt by Kathleen Dowling Singh (1946—2017), The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older

Opening deeply to the truth of our own aging is wise. Opening deeply to the truth of our own impermanence is wise. Although such opening may not come easily at first—we all know how the ego tends to resist vulnerability—it is important to do so if we wish to mindfully use the time remaining to us…

To live a life of an elder is to ripen into being that is more than simply elderly, more than just old. It involves ripening into clear-eyed acceptance of the way things actually exist. That ripening involves, for each of us, many difficult reckonings in the multifaceted, multidimensional understanding that everything that can be lost will be lost…

We all have reservoirs of fear, some large and some small and subtle, around entering this new terrain of unknown and mystery: our last years. What will aging to do me? To my body? To my mind? . . . Will I matter to anyone? Will I be a burden? How will I die?

We do not know. We have no clue what these years will hold for us. We have no clue what will happen tomorrow. The “moment that changed everything” usually arrives unannounced.

The only person who can answer the questions posed by the often painful challenges of aging is the person we will be in the moment we confront those circumstances. The shaping of that person into someone with greater wisdom and equanimity can begin in this moment.

For Singh, when we choose to ripen, to awaken as we age, we offer a gift to the world and future generations:

If we are to claim the last years of life as years that hold the possibility of awakening into equanimity and lightness, into the very embodiment of grace, we need to bear witness to the ripening of that possibility. Not only would it be a blessing for each of us, it would be a blessing for a world starving for such witnessing. . . .

Mindful of impermanence, the breath-by-breath arising and abiding and falling of each moment, we can remain in remembrance of our longing to exist in wisdom and love and compassion. We can remain in our intention to ripen into the spiritual maturity that is our birthright to cultivate. There is no more noble way to spend these years than to become an elder, to bear witness to the world as placeholders for peace, love, wisdom, and fearlessness. 

As shared in Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation on September 21, 2022


Julie Wilson, LGSW
Executive Director

Marnie Hovland, RN
Betsy Blume, Retired RN

Care Coordinators/
Caregiver Consultants

Christie John
Program/Volunteer Coordinator

Frances Zigmund
Senior Services Coordinator

Jenny Delfs, MD
Medical Director

Board of Directors:
Jayne Johnson

Nancy Starr
Vice President

Jack McHugh

Bob Karrick

Beth Kennedy
Nancy Larson
Kathy Reeves
Carolyn Schmidt
Suzanne Sherman

Grant Funding Partners

  • Cook County Public Health Fund
  • Northland Foundation
  • North Shore Health Care Foundation
  • Head of the Lake United Way
  • Federal Older Americans Act (Title III) from the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging
  • Live Well at Home grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services

Your Donations Matter!

Care Partners depends on community support.  Please consider a donation, memorial, bequest, or celebration gift to Care Partners of Cook County—online at or mail to:
Care Partners
PO Box 282
Grand Marais, MN 55604

Care Partners Services

Staff answer calls & emails during office hours: Monday-Friday, 10am to 3pm

Trained volunteers help with:

  • Chores around the house & garden
  • Delivery of groceries, mail & other needs
  • Rides locally & to Duluth
  • Friendly calls & visits

Care Partners staff assist with:

  • Care Coordination & health care planning
  • Caregiver support
  • Information & referral
  • End-of-life support

(218) 387-3788

Care Partners continues to follow COVID recommendations from the CDC and Cook County Public Health