Courageous Stories

Highlighting community stories of courage, strength and resiliency

Community Equity Program Gives Experienced Leader Linda Garrett-Johnson a Deeper Understanding of the Legislative Process

With more than 25 years of experience advocating for public policy changes, Linda Garrett-Johnson knows how to read a bill. Even with her experience, Wilder’s Community Equity Program helped Linda deepen her knowledge of the Minnesota legislative process. “The program filled in pieces that were missing, and it helped me understand where… Read this story »

Artist, Volunteer and Activist Monica Vega Unlocks Her Changemaking Passion with the Latino Leadership Program

Monica Vega laughs when she thinks about how many people she has influenced because of her involvement with the Latino Leadership Program at Wilder. She teaches art to children, mothers and older adults at a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis. She advocates for driver’s licenses to be available for Minnesotans without documentation.… Read this story »

A Collaborative Approach to Understanding and Improving School-Based Mental Health Services

Up to 20% of youth in the United States experience a mental, emotional or behavioral health condition every year. Yet many of those children do not receive mental health services due to limited service providers, stigma, and other barriers to access. Placing trained mental health professionals in schools eliminates many of the barriers… Read this story »

Wilder School-Based Therapists Support Latinx Mental Health Through Stronger Cultural Identities

Maria Rios knows from personal experience how a strong cultural identity can help foster a sense of belonging. Maria, a Wilder school-based mental health therapist, moved to the United States from Mexico at age 7 and attended school in Woodbury with few students of her background. “I felt different, like I never fit in,” Maria says. Read this story »

Mai Kou Xiong Builds a Legacy of School-Based Mental Health Support for Hmong Students

When Mai Kou Xiong was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer last year, she reflected on what mattered most to her. For much of her career, Mai Kou has worked in elementary schools, helping youth embrace their Hmong identity, language and culture to help them succeed in school and life. “I want our students to be healthy mentally and… Read this story »

Facilitating Data-Informed Decisions: East Metro Pulse Data Parties

The Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations wanted to make a rich data resource about the residents of the east metro available to policymakers, funders and local leaders working to improve the lives of community members. Wilder Research partnered with the Foundations to develop and co-host a series of data parties to help attendees… Read this story »

School-Based Mental Health Participant Finds Hope and Healing With Persistence and Support

Emily was a smart and outgoing elementary school student. She was so high achieving that her teacher was initially reluctant to refer her to Hlub Zoo (pronounced LOO-ZHONG), Wilder’s school-based mental health service for students of Hmong and Southeast Asian descent. However, Emily had emotional breakdowns that led her teacher and… Read this story »

Wilder Volunteer Makes Child Development Center Family Events ‘Bigger And Better Than You Could Have Ever Dreamed’

Kathleen McNamara helps make the Wilder Child Development Center feel like a community. The Center, which serves about 70 toddlers and preschoolers in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul, hosts events to help families get to know one another and foster a sense of community. Kathleen, a military program specialist at Cummins, is… Read this story »