Courageous Stories

Highlighting community stories of courage, strength and resiliency


The McKinney family chose the Child Development Center for its diversity and focus on kindergarten readiness in a supportive environment

When Lawrence and Charmaine McKinney started looking for child care for their oldest child, they wanted to find something near their neighborhood. They also wanted an opportunity to interact with a racially and ethnically diverse group of families. Read this story »

For Van Meter employees, volunteering for Wilder’s Meals on Wheels program fostered a sense of connection to home and community

Van Meter Inc. is a leading provider of electrical products and services in the Midwest. This 100-percent employee-owned business encourages volunteerism. Read this story »

Direct Housing Assistance helps Wilder participant Jamie stay stable and thriving

Jamie has two young sons and she wants them to have the same stability she had growing up. She wants them to live in the same house throughout their entire childhood. Read this story »

Wilder Research and MN8 conduct the first community needs assessment of the Cambodian community in Minnesota to learn what they need to thrive

MN8 advocates and provides direct services and support for Southeast Asian Minnesotans who are facing detention and/or deportation. Read this story »

Wilder donor Vi Hertog’s childhood during the Great Depression inspires a life of giving

Throughout her adult life, Violet Hertog has helped others wherever and however she could. When Violet, better known as Vi, and her late husband John lived in Seattle, she volunteered in food pantries. In cities like Mandan and Jamestown, ND and Duluth, she collected food for people in need. In Woodbury, she volunteered for Meals on… Read this story »

Double duty: Dan Swanson finds fulfillment at Wilder through a career in Wilder Research and volunteer work

When he was a boy, Wilder staff member and volunteer Dan Swanson saw an Indiana Jones movie. What action! What adventure! There and then he knew that was the life he wanted. And it happened. Sort of. Dan, like Indy, loves being outdoors. And, while he soon realized real research is not the type of adventure seen on the big screen, he… Read this story »

Wilder Connect provided John and Chris Kuderka with support and respite from Alzheimer's disease

When John Kuderka was diagnosed with severe Alzheimer’s Disease, the social worker assigned to his wife, Chris, and their children shared some valuable advice. “The social worker told me that I needed respite, that I needed time away from John,” Chris Kuderka said. “That was my introduction to Wilder.” Read this story »

Artist, advocate, organizer, leader and Community Equity Program alumna María Isa is ready to run for the Minnesota State Legislature

María Isa Pérez-Vega is well known in the Twin Cities as an actor, rapper, international recording artist, youth worker and cultural community organizer. This election season, you’ll see the lifelong Saint Paul resident in a new role: political candidate for the state House of Representatives. Read this story »