Who inspires you? Minnesotans share stories of kindness
Dr. David Joesting, 80, Eden Prairie
Nominated by Carol Peckskamp, 92, Elk River
The story: On February 14, 1979, Dr. Joesting sent me a letter that I had never seen and have never seen since. I’ve kept this letter all these years, and six months ago I started trying to find it, but I had no luck. I met Dr Joesting when my mother, then in her early 70’s, was referred to him – a specialist in general surgery – after being diagnosed with breast cancer. He performed the operation and she did very well. She lived 12 years after that. But while we had insurance for the hospital bill, it was going to take me longer to pay for the surgery itself. I said to him, “If you are patient, I will pay this bill. He wrote me this letter, saying in part, “I appreciate your willingness to help…but if neither you nor your mother can afford this with relative ease, let us know and we’ll clear any remaining balance. ” And that’s what he did. I am so happy to have been able to return this letter to him. I want his children to see him and appreciate what kind of man he is.
(When contacted by a reporter, Dr Joesting, now retired, living in Eden Prairie and a grandfather of six, said he was just months away from his first surgical practice to Edina when he wrote this letter. He doesn’t remember it, but calls it “a wonderful look into the past. This letter represents what I think is the quality of care people should be receiving,” he said. “You can’t do that in medicine anymore. “)
Cindy and David Bearman, Plymouth
Nominated by Dick Schwartz, 70, Minneapolis
Cindy and David Bearman know cancer all too well. Together they faced and overcame Cindy’s battle with breast cancer, but also the hardships, heartaches and exhaustion associated with it. For this reason, Cindy and David created Cleaning Up for Cancer, a non-profit organization offering free cleaning services to those diagnosed with cancer, using non-toxic cleaning products, know-how and empathy. In “Wife, Widow, Now What? How I Navigated the Cancer World and How You Can, Too”, Rachel Engstrom writes about contacting David and Cindy – a “lovely couple who would later become family friends” . Rachel is just one of many clients of David and Cindy who not only praise the cleaning, tidying and scrubbing skills, but also their genuine camaraderie and the welcome normalcy of simple chatter they bring into the homes of the cancer patients. Although I am not a customer, I am an admirer of the couple’s compassion and the restorative gift they give to so many.
Joan Vorderbruggen, 48, Minneapolis
Nominated by Andrea Specht, 51, Saint-Paul
Five days before Valentine’s Day, Joan was putting the finishing touches on 205 baskets filled with personal care items (scented soaps and lotions, bath salts, candles, chocolates and more) which she would deliver to three emergency shelters in Minneapolis the next day. Each basket was a surprise gift for one of the heroic and mostly unsung workers who kept our shelters running throughout the pandemic. In each basket was a handwritten thank you card. Joan’s volunteer work allowed her to see how much shelter workers gave of themselves to help the most vulnerable members of our communities, and she was inspired to take action. She mobilized over 50 neighbors and friends like me to donate supplies and funds through a self-care kit supply drive, then assembled the baskets herself. To quote a mutual friend, Joan is a one-woman love machine spreading goodwill and caring for many on the front lines!
Who inspires you? Name them at starttribune.com/whoinspiresyou.