Courageous Stories

Highlighting community stories of courage, strength and resiliency


Ywj Siab Lor’s Leadership Blooms with Wilder Youth Leadership Initiative

Ywj Siab Lor is an artist and dancer and a youth mentor in Wilder’s Youth Leadership Initiative who engages with peers and others in a friendly and confident manner. But Ywj Siab, who uses the pronouns they/them/their, wasn’t as talkative at the start of their freshman year of high school. “I was overwhelmed, and I was just terrified of… Read this story »

Longtime Wilder Friends Use Planned Gift to Extend their Commitment to Community

Wilder donor and former board chair Ken Rothchild built his career in mortgage banking and real estate development during the tumultuous 1960s. In a decade known for civil rights, the anti-war movement and social change, Ken worked for and then bought the real estate business his grandfather founded in 1885. At the same time, Ken and his… Read this story »

Michigan Fitness Foundation Captures “Ripple Effects” to Increase Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

Lila Gutuskey came to Wilder Research in search of a new way to share her organization’s impact. With an evaluation tool called Ripple Effects Mapping, the Michigan Fitness Foundation found a new way to capture the impacts of their statewide work on healthy eating and physical activity in Michigan. Read this story »

Wilder Customized Living Services Helps Saint Paul Hi-Rise Residents Age in Place

After nearly a year of hospitalization and rehabilitation following knee surgery, James Johnson was ready to go home. Unfortunately, the home he had shared with his friend for 27 years needed too many modifications for him to live in while using a wheelchair. Without other housing options, James might have been at risk of premature… Read this story »

One-Day Volunteer Opportunity Turns into Ten-Year Relationship with Wilder

Mary Cahill first became involved with Wilder when she volunteered for the Minnesota Homeless Study. Her day interviewing people experiencing homelessness turned into a decade-long relationship with Wilder. Read this story »

From Meals on Wheels Volunteer to Customer, Ron Walcheski Has Come Full Circle

Ron Walcheski and his family knew he needed some changes to continue living independently after he fell while grocery shopping and broke his nose and other bones. Ron’s son, Robert, suggested he sign up for Meals on Wheels once or twice a week. Read this story »

Wilder Therapists Join the Classroom

Ashley Gramling had more than the usual first-day jitters when classes started at her school in the Twin Cities suburb of New Hope last year. Ashley, previously a middle school teacher with experience teaching kids with autism, joined an innovative project at her school that brings Wilder therapists into the classroom for elementary… Read this story »

MIGIZI Green Jobs Pathway: Preparing Native American Youth for Green Energy Careers

Learn how Green Jobs Pathway helps youth discover their cultural role as caretakers of the earth, develop their workplace skills, and complete postsecondary coursework or credentials. Read this story »