From: Mike Stienessen
This spring I have had the privilege to volunteer at Woodlawn Cemetery helping out where and when I can. I have potted plants in preparation for Memorial Day weekend and I have trimmed more grass than I can describe for general grounds upkeep. I am fortunate and able to give my time and efforts to this place and consider myself a keeper of those who reside there. There is nothing special about what I am doing. Anyone could do it. But I am. I am for me. For a sense of accomplishment. To help a friend and place that needs the help. It is how I was raised. What I was taught. When someone needs help and you’re able to, you do, whether it is physical labor or financial support. Find someone or something you can be a part of and do so. I am glad that I can.
Working on the grounds, one cannot help but notice the vastness and depth of both the property and the untold stories that live here. Hundreds of markers, hundreds of families, hundreds of years, hundreds of souls all sharing this place as home. It brings me peace to know that they are all here. It also brings me an overwhelmed sense of size and scope with how much help is needed to take care of our passed loved ones.
I have been in and out of churches throughout my life and I come back to a favorite sermon from Pastor Rehm at Central Lutheran Church here in Winona. It was very impactful and thought provoking. The sermon had reached the point of the offering and bringing forward of the gifts. She took the collection plate and moved to the Altar and raised it above her head. To paraphrase: “Dear Father, we tell you how much we love you; we speak of how we follow you, support you, and give both to and for you. But [offering plate raised high] this is what we really think.” Powerful.
So, if you are reading this you may be thinking something like, “How does this relate to me? Why should I care?” Funny you should ask. Woodlawn needs your help. It needs labor and it needs financing and would gladly take donations of both time and money. It is easy to talk about helping; about making a donation, about giving up a Saturday to lend a hand. Believe me; I know. But if you have a loved one buried at Woodlawn, know somebody that does, or think you might want to make a difference to not only a living life, but those that have passed too, this is your chance. This is your opportunity to make a difference, lend a hand, get involved in a worthy cause and place that eventually we are all going to need. Pay it forward. You may start out thinking you are helping someone else. I did. But then a funny thing happens. You’ll realize you are helping yourself, too.
I hope to see you there. For your loved ones. For those who need your help. For those who no longer can. For the satisfaction of doing something instead of just thinking about it. Choose to do more.
On behalf of Woodlawn, thank you for your help.