Living on Less Fair supports families in Forest Lake School District

Alex Records gets a new bike helmet from volunteer Carla Norelius after participating in the bike safety course.

Social service agencies were out in full force to support families at the Living on Less Resource Fair for Families in Need on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Coordinated by the Forest Lake Area Partnership for Families and held at Maranatha Assembly of God Church, the event included state, county, private and non-profit groups.  Dr. Linda Madsen, superintendent of the Forest Lake Area School District, greeted visitors in the lobby.

Forest Lake chiropractor Dr. Richard Ottomeyer led the bicycle safety class.  Ottomeyer said he’s been teaching bike safety for 20 years, ever since the tragic death of a close friend’s daughter.  In that 20 years, he said, there have been no bike fatalities in Forest Lake.

A University of Minnesota Extension employee served a lunch of chicken and ramen to illustrate healthy eating on a budget.

Family Means, a 49-year-old non-profit serving the St. Croix Valley, offers caregiver support.  Volunteers come to the home where one family member is caring for another, whether because of aging or special needs, to give the caregiver a break.

Canvas Health, a private non-profit, offers mental health counseling for children and adults.  Other services include chemical dependency evaluations, evening treatment programs, and child psychiatry.  Mental health case management helps people navigate the system for optimal results.

The Disability Linkage Line a free, statewide information and referral resource that provides Minnesotans with disabilities and chronic illnesses a single access point for all disability related questions.

Community Care is a non-profit group of volunteers who work from the Forest Hills United Methodist Church.  They have been repairing cars so that low-income people can get to work since 1997.  The group also distributes food from Ruby’s Pantry.

Recycled Wardrobes provides affordable options to families and keeps clothing out of the waste stream.  The business has seven part-time employees and, because it is a small business, supports the community with property taxes.  Owner Deann Alsaker said she started the business in Forest Lake in 1990, but now has two locations in Lindstrom and North Branch.

The Washington County Housing Unit helps people who are experiencing a housing crisis, such as being evicted.

Also from Washington County was the WorkForce Center, which helps people get back to work with career exploration, résumé writing, interview training, and more.

Professional Learning Alternatives is a non-profit training and advocacy resource for child care professionals and parents.

Other services present at the fair were energy assistance, food pantries, thrift stores, senior support, and teen centers.

The Forest Lake Area Partnership for Families meets the first Wednesday of each month in the Washington County Hardwood Creek service center/library complex.