Giving Back

The TreeHouse event at Maureen and Greg Grazzini’s Chaska home featured a gathering to support local teens. TreeHouse is a youth outreach organization, with multiple locations throughout the U.S.

Imagine an energy filling a fitness room that is welcoming, inclusive and encouraging. This is the motivational atmosphere that fills Choice, Inc.’s Shape Center, the fitness room located at its Eden Prairie facility.

When Diana and Nathan Stokes moved into the cul-de-sac on Eitel Road in Eden Prairie five years ago, they were welcomed right away to dinners, block parties and outings with the group of four other families that shared their neighborhood.

There are some questions asked of local teachers that they wish students wouldn’t have a need to pose—“Where can I stay tonight?” or “Can I sleep somewhere in school?” Cassie, a 16-year-old local student, asked similar questions as a fourth grader and again for a brief time last summer.

In the years his children were growing up, Eden Prairie resident Mike Thomas was a hands-on dad, involved in everything from youth sports to church activities. As his kids moved toward independence, Thomas found he missed the opportunity to participate and grow his community.

When the Luecke family of four posed for a family portrait with newborn brother Elliot, they made sure to include a green dinosaur right in the middle of the photo.

In 2002, Steve and Becky Chepokas of Chanhassen helped their son Mitch, who was dying of cancer, give away his life savings—about $6,000—to other families in his hospital’s pediatric oncology unit. Mitch made his dad “pinky swear” that he’d continue helping children with cancer.

When communities come together, great things can happen. That’s what eight women from the southwest metro believed in August 2014 when they started planning Power of 100 Southwest, Women Who Care.

When Vasilisa Costin and her family immigrated to the United States from Moldova eight years ago, they felt like they had won the lottery. “We applied for a green card and won,” Costin says. “I was so excited to come to America. We wanted to see something new.”

Twelve years ago, the Chanhassen community gathered to help Steve Chepokas keep a promise of the most solemn kind: a pinky swear to his 9-year old son, Mitch, to help other kids with cancer and their families after he was gone.

“Are you sure these clothes are for us?” a young boy asked his mother. The bundle of new clothing, with the store tags still attached, cast doubt in the boy’s mind, since he could only remember wearing used or hand-me-down outfits.

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