May 23- A photo and recognition of another of our partners today. The Landmark Group of Thrivent Financial, here in Lake Elmo, made a generous
gift last fall as a matching grant, which inspired many individual donors to reach and exceed our fall fundraising goals. They also made a gift to support our future sensory garden and gazebo. This year they are investing their time, talent, and treasures to plan and support some fundraising opportunities to engage their own investment group and our community partners. We are so fortunate to be working with such a generous, community-minded, hard-working group of people, right here in our home town. From left to right, Gary Tangwall, Janna Haug, Kim Watson, and Todd Gillingham.

Jan 24- Another one of our partners will be Bluestone Physicians Services. Anyone who lives in a group home or assisted living residence may be familiar with them. They provide on-site primary care physician visits, offering bedside X-rays, 24-hour prescription orders, and coordination of care with our Lakeview home care services. The staff in the local office in Stillwater is eager to get started with Granite House as soon as residents are moving in. Arrangements have been made with Sarah Keenan, President, and Katherine Redmon, Projects & Research Specialist, to provide this service for our residents. How wonderful to have a primary care doctor visit during these winter months instead of taking someone out into the cold! 

March 6- We know all of you out there are wondering how you can help us, so here’s a great way to make donating to Granite House affordable! You can sign up for a monthly PayPal donation through our secure website link with a credit card. For as little as $5-$10 a month you can help us out and get a tax receipt at the end of the year. Start or cancel any time you want. We have some donors already doing it, and we smile every time we get that little email that tells us these gifts have arrived!

May 30- Just got this great photo of our Lakeview Home Care nurses and therapists. They will be providing regular visits to Granite House, bringing wellness care and physician-directed programs of physical, occupational and speech-pathology therapy to all residents. The Insleys have gotten to know many of their staff and are looking forward to continuing our relationship with them. 

Keep up with Granite House news even if you are not on Facebook!    We post a new update every Sunday afternoon.
Look on the other Facebook drop-down page for the archived entries for 2015 and the second half of 2016.

May 17- Looks like Tom has a busy week, renting a gigantic chipper at the property. He is using his excavator to grab and feed large brush and trees into the chipper, and the pile of mulch you see is just two hour’s work. What an amazing transformation from the overgrown, neglected woods we first saw almost two years ago! The locations of the new well and drain field have been laid out, and the schematics of our revised plans are in process.

April 17- Carol attended the opening day of the MN Brain Injury Alliance annual professional conference last week. Here she is with Carol Ann Smith, RN, program director for the Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis (HCMC). Carol Ann has been a valuable resource for Granite House since last summer, and is one of our best advocates among professionals who work with brain injury cases. The conference was a wonderful experience, providing both educational lectures and a networking opportunity to spread the word about our mission. Feedback from contacts made was very positive and supportive, and yielded some good referrals for expanding the base of families in need of our services. It was also gratifying to be known and greeted by name by at least 20 other professionals at the conference.  

March 20- We were captivated by the talents of the crew from Northern Arborists of Lake Elmo on a cold and windy St. Patrick’s Day. They trimmed out some of the beautiful old oak trees and felled two enormous dead trees.
Gary Wemeier’s crew gracefully hung from ropes with chain saws for most of the day, the excitement building until the final THUD when the trees came down. No wonder they say it is the most dangerous occupation of all! Gary has been on board with the project from the beginning and will stay on as we choose plantings and care for the beautiful woods on the property.

May 1- Have you received your copy of our first Donor Newsletter? They were mailed out last month to our donors, friends, partners and volunteers. You can request one by mail through our email, or view a full-color version of it here on our website.  We recap our progress from June 2014 through the end of 2015, and list our donors and our income and expenses.  


Feb 14- Our board chair Carol Insley was a recent guest speaker at the Stillwater Lions Club. She was warmly received and enjoyed lunch with the members before giving a slide presentation about the mission of Granite House and introducing our promotional video. When she spoke about the plans for the sensory garden and the volunteer opportunities for gardeners and handymen, the response was very enthusiastic. We look forward to working with this community organization once we are ready for their help. Here is a photo taken Feb. 2nd with John Baird, a Lions member who is also on the board of the Kay Clint Fund for Emerging Needs. The Kay Clint Fund is a program of the United Way of WA County-East, and was the first group to respond with startup funding for Granite House once we submitted grants following our 501c3 Federal Tax-Exempt status. 

March 13- Here is Tom with Brian Larson at Larson Architects, LLC in Stillwater. Brian has been great to work with, and brings his experience in both residential and commercial building to the project. The plans are nearly ready to submit to contractors for bids, and then we will be ready for groundbreaking in late spring. This will be an exciting summer for Granite House, so be sure to watch for updates! If you would like to receive our upcoming Spring Newsletter, please send your mailing address to

July 20- We are now on! A great way to raise funds for one big item at a time. Our goal is to raise $25,000 for a residential elevator. This is important to bring our residents to the lower level for therapy.We will have a mat table for range of motion, equipment for weight-bearing exercise, and a hydrotherapy tub and roll-in shower. Please share our link and help us get that elevator!  ​Here is the link: 

July 13- It's hard to believe that just two years ago this month we were applying for our status as a MN nonprofit organization, starting to gather our board of directors, and had just found the perfect property to build the residence. We have learned so much—most of all that we need to be patient because things always take longer than we think—and have met so many wonderful people along the way. By this time next year we will be looking at admissions and our grand opening. Thanks to you, our loyal supporters, for your faith in what we are doing!

Jan 3-A BIG thank you from the Insley family for your support to help build a home so that Aaron and others like him can live with dignity and compassionate care. We are so touched by the generosity of our friends, neighbors, family, and even strangers. The last few days were exciting as we watched our last-minute donors come through with checks, on PayPal, and donations of stock. The Thrivent matching grant and the Founders Grant were both fully matched in the late hours of Dec. 31st. A special thank you to the anonymous donor on our GiveMN site who made a VERY nice gift, dedicated to our family, and took us to the limit of the Thrivent Match. It warms our hearts to know you are out there.         

April 6- Quick! Click on the link and see the article in the Stillwater Gazette!  We’ll get a link on the website in some form once it is no longer available.  Tell us what you think! This 2014 photo is attached to the article, showing the founders of Granite House—Anna, Carol, Tom, and Aaron.

June 5- The building site has greened up and all of the dead or unwanted trees have been removed in preparation for construction. The big oaks and maples were trimmed in late winter, and many stumps and brush piles have been hauled away. On the lower right side of the photo you can just see the distant river bluffs on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River. The view from the house will be beautiful!

Jan 17-Starting today we will post a series on highlighting our partners. Let’s start with Lakeview Home Care in Stillwater. The Insleys have maintained a close relationship with them for seven years, utilizing skilled nursing visits, physical and occupational therapy, and speech-pathology therapy for their son, Aaron, in his home. This valuable service has enhanced Aaron’s health and well-being, and made a decisive difference in the ability of the family to care for him within their home. Arrangements have been made with Denise Plourde, manager, to provide this service for Granite House.  Bimonthly home care nursing visits and physician-directed programs of physical, occupational and speech-pathology therapy will be provided to all residents. 

Jan 31-Today we spotlight one of our future Granite House therapy providers, Mary Fruetel. She has been working with Aaron Insley for five years in his home, and provides massage therapy and Healing Touch. Deep tissue massage is very beneficial to brain injury patients, who often have muscle tone and spasticity issues, along with dystonia and contractures. Healing Touch therapy can help to restore harmony and balance to those whose brains are constantly changing. Aaron will go from a state of anxiety and tightness to one of complete relaxation. He will rarely smile except after therapy. Mary works out of Courage-Kenny in Stillwater and visits clients in their homes throughout the St. Croix Valley. Mary’s website link is here:

June 19-Look what Tom found hiding under the giant burdock leaves at the property! We’re seeing the tiny fawns in our own woods this week, hiding for protection while their mothers are out foraging. What an exciting time of year in the woods!

Feb 21-We have been laying the groundwork for a partnership with the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance since July, 2014. When someone is hospitalized with a brain injury, the Alliance is there with information, support, and resource referrals. They answer calls, promote awareness and advocate for people with brain injury. Executive Director David King always asks about our progress when we meet at events. We participate in their annual fundraiser, the Walk for Thought, and refer people with moderate brain injury to them. The Alliance refers families to us for our unique support group, and once we are open, will hand out our brochures. Although our missions are very similar, only Granite House can provide information and support specifically for situations where the brain injury is severe and permanent.                 

Feb 7- Music Therapy is another service we will provide to our Granite House residents. Katie Corbett, MT-BC, MAMT, NICU-MT, a board-certified music therapist at Singing Heart, will visit twice a month. She has worked with Aaron Insley in his home for two years, and the benefits are remarkable. Music Therapy is widely used to stimulate the brain functions controlling movement, cognition, language and emotion. On a more basic level it provides relaxation and sensory stimulation. Aaron responds to Katie in a unique and positive manner, tracking her with his gaze and humming along to her music. Sometimes he has a look of calmness and pure satisfaction. Katie makes house calls to group homes and assisted living residences and serves adults and children with disabilities in the Singing Heart studio in Stillwater.

May 8- Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms who are caring for their children, no matter how old they are or where they live!

March 27- WANTED! Someone who knows about salt-water fish aquariums!
We want to get one for Granite House, and would love to learn more, and possibly find someone who would volunteer to come in once a month for maintenance. The bright, big colorful fish are just perfect for our residents to focus on, track with their gaze, and engage with. I’ve seen it with Aaron at the clinic and it’s really amazing how it captures his attention. What a wonderful way to provide sensory stimulation, beauty, and relaxation.

April 24—Do you burn wood? The LAST tree that needed to be removed to make room for the construction is out! Tom has piled up MANY stacks of wood in all sizes- from BBQ size up to bonfire size. He has oak, boxelder, and locust wood. Before he gets a chipper, he’d like to extend the offer of free firewood to anyone who can come and get it! He can load up your own trailer and send you on your way. By this time next week he’ll be getting the chipper, so let us know at to make arrangements at the site in Stillwater to get your firewood!

June 12--There's a fine line between "greening up" and "overgrown," and it happens fast! Tom is out on the property with his trimmer today cleaning up the grass, thistles, and burdock. He found a patch of daisies and brought some home. Our first flowers!

Granite House

Granite House

Granite House

Granite House

June 28-Our generous partners from Thrivent Financial recently hosted a dinner cruise fundraiser for Granite House on the St. Croix River. It was a magical evening, with an opportunity for our providers, donors, and professional partners from all areas to mingle with our friends in the brain injury community and focus on our mission and goals. We are grateful to the Thrivent Community-Landmark for fully funding the event so that all of the donations can go directly to our capital fund. Pictured are board members Rep. Kathy Lohmer and Dr. Donna Koning in the center, with Thrivent Landmark members Lou and Kathy Cristan. Donations are still coming in to support this effort, and we invite everyone to join in. Watch for news about our next fundraiser in Stillwater this fall.

 Jan 10- It’s freezing cold in Stillwater, Minnesota, and a good day to stay home and shop on Amazon Smile! Granite House is an approved charity, so if you shop online, you can trigger a small matching donation from Amazon for your purchases. Search Amazon Smile, and look for the place to enter a charity. Then, every time you shop, log in through the Amazon Smile link instead of the regular one. Same shopping experience, but for every $200 you spend, Granite House receives $1. Okay, that’s not much, but if 10 people do it, it buys a book of stamps. Over the course of a year, if 100 people spend $2000, we’ll get $1000, and that can make a real difference.

April 3- Carol is here with Jeff Nachbar, a public policy associate with the MN Brain Injury Alliance. On March 29 the Health & Human Services Finance Committee of the MN House of Representatives had a hearing on proposals to benefit people with disabilities and their caregivers through Medical Assistance reform. The hearing was very interesting, seeing how our legislators work. Carol also met with Rep. Kathy Lohmer, our local state representative and a member of the Granite House board of directors, who serves on the committee.
Note to locals: Pick up a copy of this week’s Stillwater Gazette to read a front-page article about Granite House! An online link will be posted for the rest of you in next week’s entry.

​​A family-focused long-term care residence