OCT 4- The Insleys had visitors from the MN Dept. of Human Services last week. On the left is Rep. Kathy Lohmer, a Board member who first introduced us to our guests, and Carol Insley, Board Chair.  Next is Alex Bartolic, Director of the Disability Services Division, and on the far right, Assistant Commissioner Jennifer DeCubellis, Community Supports Administration at the DHS. Seated is Aaron Insley. Our guests were very interested in meeting Aaron and seeing how he is cared for in his home. They saw how Granite House will use the best features of Aaron’s home, such as ceiling lifts, a screened porch, and views of the woods by the fireplace, to create a unique setting for the long-term care of younger adults with severe and permanent brain injury. We are fortunate to have the support of these and other state and county officials!    

SEPT 13--LAND HISTORY, CH. 2.  Elias McKean, one of the pioneers of the lumber town of Stillwater, Minnesota, homesteaded the Granite House property and eventually owned nearly 500 acres in West Lakeland Township. In 1864 McKean built a 22’ x 30’ one-room schoolhouse on the northeast corner of his property. In 1891 he deeded .3 acres of the land along Stagecoach Trail where the schoolhouse stood to Stillwater School District 19. The school was open to students and the community until 1940. Tom came across a 1938 aerial photograph of the property, showing the McKean house up on the hill, surrounded by trees. The schoolhouse, easily identified by the chimney on the roof, is visible at street level.      Next chapter: What happened to the schoolhouse?      

Nov 8- We have joined with GiveMN.org to celebrate the annual tradition of generosity called the Give to the Max Day on Nov 12. GiveMN is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit and an affiliate of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. In 2014, GiveMN raised more than $18 million in 24 hours during its annual Give to the Max Day celebration. Many companies support this effort and encourage employees to give to their favorite charity. Go to www.GiveMN.org  and search Granite House.  Help us to reach our goal of $25,000 with our two matching grants!  ​Give to the Max Day is a one-day giving extravaganza, where the generosity of Minnesotans shines bright. But you don’t have to wait, just preschedule your gift starting now, and it will be charged on Nov 12.  Thank you!  Let's join together and help Granite House thrive in our community!    

SEPT 27--LAND HISTORY, CH. 3. The McKean schoolhouse, on the northeast corner of the Granite House property, closed in 1940. The building was sold and moved to another nearby farm and used for storage. The farm changed hands, and when Pete Miller bought the farm, he moved the schoolhouse to his business property, Miller Excavating, also on Stagecoach Trail. Pete is still driving trucks for his business and helped dig up and remove the old homestead foundation last fall. Pete told Tom about the McKean family history on the land, and once we discovered the link to the schoolhouse, we looked a little deeper to find out more.        Next chapter: Where is the schoolhouse now?

OCT 25-Did you know that you can make a donation of stock to Granite House? Giving appreciated stock can be a very cost-effective gift, especially if you have owned the stock for at least one year. The gift is deductible at the full fair market value, and Granite House receives the appreciated amount.  And, even though there may be a significant unrealized capital gain due to the increased value of the stock, neither you nor Granite House have to pay capital gains tax because of our 501(c)(3) Charity status. For more information, see the DONATE tab on our website or send us an email at info@granitehousemn.org to request the transaction details.

DEC 20-Just 10 more days to take advantage of our fall matching grants! Our local Thrivent Financial group is matching your tax-deductible donations through Dec 31, and the Founders grant also expires on that date. Please consider mailing a check to Granite House, P.O. Box 283, Bayport, MN 55003. We are also able to receive gifts of stock-- see our website. Credit card payments can be made with our secure PayPal account on our website.
​Thank you and best wishes for a Merry Christmas from Granite House. 

SEPT 19- Today was the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance annual Walk for Thought in St. Paul.  We had a great turnout this year! 31 caregivers, therapists, friends, and neighbors came with their families for the 1-mile walk at Battle Creek Regional Park, and still others made donations. Check out those fabulous t-shirts! Our team ranged in age from 20 months to 92 years old- and we walked together with wagons, wheelchairs, and rolling walkers. It was a beautiful fall day. We connected with others who asked about Granite House, and talked with some of our contact and resource people who were also there. Thanks so much to everyone who came and donated to this fundraiser for brain injury.

See the Home Page of the website for the group photo of the team!

Nov 1- Have you seen our website recently? We now have our DONATE button ready for online donations! You can make a secure tax-deductible gift through our PayPal account with a credit card. Look for the button on the HOME page, the DONATE page, and a few other spots. You do not need to have a PayPal account, but if you already have one you may use it.
An added incentive is our generous matching grant from our local Thrivent Landmark group in Lake Elmo. They will match up to $7500 in donations, and if we exceed that, the Founders of Granite House will match up to an additional $5000. Now is the time! The CAD drawings of the residence are almost ready, and we will be moving on to blueprints soon. Please help us to stay on target with pre-construction expenses while our foundation grants for capital funding are being considered. Thank you!

NOV 15- The founders of Granite House took a road trip to Iowa to visit On With Life, brain injury rehab specialists who have a long-term skilled care facility for youth and younger adults in Glenwood, IA. Their resident profile is the same as ours, and they are doing wonderful things with sensory stimulation and therapy. We met with Administrator Dick Achenbach and Jeni Durfey, Recreational Therapy, and had a tour. The highlight was the Owl’s Nest, an amazing sensory garden, which employs plants and design elements to stimulate all the senses. Plantings are selected for color, texture and fragrance, and are placed for direct access to the persons served. Therapists use practical skills of planting and watering to achieve goals of movement and balance. They have a gazebo and a wheelchair swing—features we will have at our Granite House gardens. 
Learn more at http://www.onwithlife.org/owls-nest.aspx
 We are very excited to get started planning our own sensory garden! It was such a worthwhile trip to see a successful operation, meet other younger adults within our resident profile, and watch their staff care for them. They are currently serving 32 people and have a waiting list. What a wonderful sense of validation and satisfaction to know we are not the only ones serving this population! It’s like having a support group for Granite House.

DEC 13- Did you know that a CONCUSSION is a BRAIN INJURY? Although it is considered a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI), the effects can be serious and long lasting, especially with repeated incidents. Not everyone will lose consciousness, but most people will feel some level of dizziness, headache, or memory problems. It can also cause mood changes, sleep disturbances, blurred vision and sensitivity to light and noise. Symptoms may not surface right away, and many people dismiss these gradual changes. Most people will recover fully from concussion, but it depends on age, the severity of the injury, and the care taken afterwards. About 40% of all brain injuries are caused by falls, and most of these injuries are among our senior population. Please protect yourself and your family, and seek help if you fall or hit your head during sports activities.

​OCT 18- BIG NEWS! After almost ten months we now have our Federal Tax-Exempt Status as a nonprofit! This document, called the 501(c)(3), allows us now to create an online donation tool on our website, join up with GiveMN.org, and participate in programs such as Amazon Smile. Watch for updates as we install these new features on our website and Facebook pages. We can also apply for a Minnesota sales tax exemption, which will help our as we build and furnish the house for our future residents! The most important change with this status is that businesses and foundations can now make grants to Granite House as a registered nonprofit. Thanks again to everyone who has already made a donation. Your gifts are fully tax-deductible going back to July 23, 2014, the date of our incorporation as a Minnesota nonprofit. PLEASE SHARE OUR ANNOUNCEMENT! 

Nov 29- Just as we are getting ready for a snowstorm, we are making plans for work on the land this winter, chipping and perhaps burning piles of brush. This photo taken in October shows the building site from the west, facing the main entry of the house. Right behind Tom and Eva will be the upper level bedrooms and lower level therapy wing. To the north, on the highest point, will be the great room. You can see the river bluffs in the background —there will be a beautiful view through the woods on three sides and long views to the north and east across the river. We’ll post an updated plan next time.

NOV 22-Granite House is gaining more attention through disability and brain injury advocacy events in the area. Carol attended the Town Hall Forum at Regions Hospital on Nov 11 and the Disability Policy Summit and Town Hall Forum at the Stillwater Courage-Kenny Rehab Center on Nov 21. At both events she testified before a panel of Minnesota State Senators and Representatives about Medical Assistance reforms, and passed out our brochures and business cards. This program is a grass-roots approach to promote policy changes to benefit everyone in the state, and has proved to be an effective method for positive change for people with disabilities and those who care for them. 
This week at Granite House we are thankful for all of our friends, family and co-workers who have supported us in the past year in so many ways! It looks like we are on our way to capturing all the matching grant funds before the end of the year! Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

OCT 11- LAND HISTORY, CH. 4.  A happy ending for the McKean schoolhouse! It was rescued by a group of history-minded people in Stillwater and in 2006 moved to the Boutwells Landing campus, a Presbyterian Homes senior complex in Oak Park Heights. It was slowly and lovingly restored, down to the desks and schoolbooks by a team of historians, carpenters, and resident volunteers from Boutwells Landing. A grand opening in 2009 featured former students, McKean family descendants, and educators. Today it is the centerpiece of the Village Green at Boutwells, and from time to time it is open for visitors. Here is a link to the article which tells the story.

DEC 6- Here is the first CAD drawing of the upper level of Granite House by Larsen Architects, Stillwater MN. (Copyright 2015, Granite House Inc.) You will see the large “great room” at the top of the plan with a gas fireplace and windows for viewing. The eat-in kitchen area is across from the main entry. 
​There are screened porches both off the central area (right) and off the breakout/meeting room over the garages. Five large bedrooms will be above the lower level therapy area. Access to outdoors will be off the main entry and also the lower level by the garage. Just a few minor revisions and we are moving forward with the next step! 

DEC 27- We’ll end the year with this rendering of Granite House, where you would first see it coming up the driveway. The two porches are above garage spaces, and on the right you can see the great room. As you drive past the porch, the bedrooms and lower level therapy rooms are visible. The trees are the 200-year oaks that are being carefully preserved as we plan the house around them. Happy New Year, and thanks for your support! 2016 will be an exciting year.

NOV 13-Here's a quick update on yesterday's Give to the Max Day. Granite House received $1905.00 in donations! Thanks to everyone who participated in this event! The matching grant is open until the end of December, so you can still contribute in other ways. We appreciate your support and your faith in our mission. Lots more good news coming soon.

SEPT 6- Granite House is in the news! Follow the link to a front-page article on the ConnectWC website, a Washington County resource site for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Our story will appear on the home page of the website for the month of September, then be searchable under the archived articles, Advocacy and Support. The author of the article came to the Insley home earlier in the summer and met Aaron, saw how he is cared for at home, and interviewed Carol. ConnectWC has listings of programs, support groups, articles, and information for families.     http://www.connectwc.org/


AUG 30- LAND HISTORY, CH.1. The Granite House land: In 1844 Elias McKean staked a claim in present-day West Lakeland Township and broke 30 acres on what is now called Stagecoach Trail. McKean came from Pennsylvania in 1841 and worked for the St. Croix Falls Company. He was one of the founders of the Stillwater Lumber Company in 1843, along with Calvin Leach, Elam Greeley and John McKusick. McKean established a homestead there and in 1855 married Marcia Smith Leach, widow of his former partner. Together they raised six sons. The family lived in that home for over 100 years, until it burned down in the 1960’s. The remains of the hand-stacked stone foundation are piled at the Insley home. Anyone have any ideas for re-using these stones?                          

AUG 23- We just picked up our sign for the Granite House property. It’s printed on both sides, and we will get it up on a post in the next few weeks. Now, when you drive by Stagecoach Trail and 22nd Street you will know where the residence will be. There is still more work to be done in clearing and brush removal, and soon the building site will be ready. Large trucks are moving in and out of the property this week, so if you are interested in getting a closer look, please let us know ahead of time to be safe. You can use the carol@granitehousemn.org email to contact us.

AUG 16- The Granite House mission just got a big boost this week, with new partners and connections through the Department of Human Services (DHS) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Advisory Committee. Carol started an initial two-year term as a member this week—and met case managers, therapists, and medical professionals from hospitals, agencies, and brain injury specialty groups. The opportunity to not only share our vision but to learn from these new associations is going to be valuable as we move forward. Carol will be continuing to advocate for people living with severe and permanent brain injury while educating a growing circle of professionals about the existence and the needs of this population.

AUG 9- Just look at the Granite House land today! Most of the tree and brush removal is done, and the big oaks and maples surrounding the building site are opened up. Still a few unwanted trees to take down-- with professional help. This perspective shows the front entry of the house, with the back windows to be facing the river view. The bedrooms and screened porch will have views of the woods. The big pile of brush will be gone soon.


AUG 2- Tom and Mary Ann have made some real progress on the land with all the nice weather. They are pulling stumps and piling brush to be hauled away. We met the architect, Brian Larson, out on the property again last week and looked at the layout of the house with the different views from each of the gathering spaces. We have signed a contract with Brian and he is working on the next phase of design drawings. By the way, if you wonder about the name “Mary Ann,” search for the 1939 children’s book “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.”  


JULY 26- Another milestone- the one-year anniversary of our incorporation as a Minnesota Non-Profit Organization on July 24th.  Thanks to all of you who are now following us on Facebook-- we have reached 100 LIKES!  There are developments in progress on many fronts now, with some big news and decisions coming up in the next two months. Our support continues to grow in the health care sector with new partners and referrals. Keep posted for all the details!

JULY 19- The storm Friday night left hundreds of thousands in the Twin Cities without power. Folks like us in Lake Elmo are now into the 37th HOUR, the lucky ones running our home generators. The Granite House land is fine—no downed trees, power still on at the shed. Just shows how important a natural-gas powered generator will be for the residents, who will have multiple support systems requiring power. A bonus- the new Bayport Fire Hall opening next spring will be just 3 miles down the road on Stagecoach Trail.


JULY 9- Our promotional video is ready! You can watch it here or go to YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9480Pl3tig

Granite House video produced by Zach Peterson
Music: “Homeward Angel” by Moby, courtesy of Mobygratis.com
Copyright 2015 Granite House, Inc.

JULY 5- Take a look at our classified ad in the MN Brain Injury Alliance Enews! It will appear in the July 1 and July 31 issues of this bi-weekly newsletter. Follow the link and scroll down to see our ad. Over 6000 professionals and families within the brain injury community subscribe to this free online publication. Ads will reach many families who may be interested in our support group, our advocacy work, and the Granite House residence. Subscribe by clicking on the page header. https://www.braininjurymn.org/enews/enews-2015-07-01.html

JUNE 28- Thanks to everyone who responded to our brochure mailings in May. Donations are arriving from friends, family, and co-workers. We are so very grateful for these gifts, large and small, to help us through this first year of startup expenses. Our website isn’t ready to take online donations yet, but we can receive checks at Granite House, P.O. Box 283, Bayport, MN 55003. Thank you! Your donation is tax-deductible

JUNE 21- Here is a photo of the Granite House Board of Directors—aren’t we an impressive group?  Lots of talent, experience, connections, enthusiasm and passion for our mission.  We are so fortunate to have this wonderful team during our development year.  Check out the OUR LEADERS page under the WHO WE ARE tab on our website, to see the impressive backgrounds and interests of our team members.

JUNE 14- Another Granite House publication has made its debut! Since the residence is not yet a licensed, operational facility, certain referral sources are unable to distribute our general brochure at this time. One part of our mission is to find families who are caring for someone with a severe brain injury to join our support group. We already have a small group of parents meeting once a month at the Conservatory at Como Zoo in St. Paul. We walk, talk, enjoy the gardens, and sometimes stay for lunch. It is reassuring to know that you are not alone in this journey.

This is our new Support Group flyer, which has been approved for distribution by the Washington County Community Services and the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance. We have also given brochures and support group flyers to the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Stillwater and our main referral source, Red Wing Healthcare. Let us know if you would like one or more for someone you know.

MAY 30- Today is a real milestone! It was one year ago today that the three founders of Granite House decided to create a real home for young adults with severe brain injuries. Anna was already working in group homes and Carol and Tom were facing eventual long-term placement for their son once they were no longer able to care for him at home. It was Anna, who had been a caregiver for Tom and Carol’s son, who brought up the idea. It was instantly agreed upon, and here we are one year later with a Minnesota nonprofit, a board of directors, a piece of property, and a notebook full of plans. We have worked very hard to come this far, and have met many wonderful people in health care, government, and within the brain injury community. Thanks to so many of you for the generous gifts of your talents, time, and donations.                
Another note—next Saturday, June 6th, from 1-4 pm is the Family and Consumer Conference sponsored by the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance in Roseville. For more information look at the website at www.braininjurymn.org.    It is a great way to connect with other families and hear some very interesting speakers.

MAY 24- Our brochures are ready and in distribution! If you have not received yours in the mail, be sure to email us at info@granitehousemn.org with your mailing address and we will send you one. Thanks to Stillwater Printing for the excellent design work and to our board members for their input.

MAY 17- Here is a "bubble diagram" to show the relative floor plan and flow on the main floor of the Granite House residence. The lower level will have a therapy area, bathing suite, staff areas, and storage. There will be an entry on the main level with wheelchair access, and the garage will be connected to the lower level, near the elevator.

MAY 10- An exciting day yesterday, filming our informational video for our website and Facebook! Zach Peterson, a local videographer, spent the day filming interviews of the Granite House board members and other friends of the Insley family. The short video will be available in late June, and a longer version will be available for presentation to potential donors.

MARCH 29- There has been lots of activity at the future site of Granite House! Here is a photo of the cleared building site as seen from Stagecoach Trail, as of Feb 1st. The residence will be placed at the top of the hill, among the large oak trees. There is a small house number sign "2114" by the driveway. Note one of the large piles of branches still to be burned. Be sure to watch for new photos at our website. Any volunteers who would like to help this spring with brush clearing, piling cut brush, or moving brush when we have an all-day burn, be sure to contact Tom, Carol, or Anna. Thanks!

MARCH 29-Granite House is a Minnesota non-profit corporation with a mission: to provide support and hope to individuals and families who are living with severe and permanent brain injury. We have started a support group, an awareness campaign, and are fundraising to build a residence. Please check out our website at www.granitehousemn.org. Granite House is a state-licensed Minnesota non-profit incorporated in 2014. We will provide long-term care and maximum assistance for individuals who are not likely to emerge from a minimally conscious state, yet are otherwise stable and responsive to external stimulation.

Keep up with Granite House news even if you are not on Facebook!
We post a new update every Sunday afternoon. Here are the archived

entries for 2015, starting at the bottom of the page. 


Granite House

Granite House

Granite House

​​A family-focused long-term care residence

Granite House