Creating New Memories at the Minnesota Veterans Home
Kirk Larson, Amway Independent Business Owner and chairman of the all volunteer Minnesota Veterans Home (MVH) Family Council, is passionate about supporting veterans and their families and giving them opportunities to create new, happy memories.
Elected to chair in 2008, Kirk has worked to establish the Council as a non-profit entity and boost participation from 6 to 40 members. “This improvement is directly related to identifying problems, figuring out a plan to move forward, and implementing change,” notes Kirk. “When you do things as a team you can do a lot more than you can as a lone ranger. I give and listen to suggestions. Amway teaches us to do that – to listen to other people.”
The Council’s mission is to support the family members of veterans living at the MVH in Minneapolis. How?…by advocating, communicating, and educating, to ensure all the residents of MVH receive quality care. “We want family members to realize that they don’t have to be afraid to visit their loved one at the Home. We’re there for the families, to help them deal, create new memories, and make this part of their life a little easier,” says Kirk, whose father was a World War II veteran and once a resident of MVH.
In order to encourage family members of residents to visit MVH the Council organizes events for them to enjoy throughout the year. In 2012 the Council hosted Vettes for Vets, an end-of-the-summer potluck, complete with food, laughter, root beer floats, and 70 corvettes. “Last year we had 320 picnic-goers!” adds Kirk. Other events include boat rides on the Mississippi River, and a Picture Day for families and MVH residents to have their picture professionally taken.
Every month, family members of the 400 residents of MVH are invited to attend the Family Council meeting, which is often fairly upbeat. “We make sure there’s some laughter – if you can laugh at the Home, you can have a good time.”
Kirk has presented before the Minnesota Senate Hearing Committee on the progress of the MVH, which now enjoys a positive national reputation. “You have to put others first,” says Kirk. “Don’t be concerned about your ego, and do what’s right, not necessarily what feels good.
“Ask yourself, ‘What am I here for? Am I here to make someone else’s life easier?’”