Orono Woodlands getting ready for Elvis.

Yesterday Living Well celebrated friends, family and FUN at Como Park Pavilion during our annual Family Fun Day party. It was hot, but there was a lovely breeze and lots of fans and water misters made it manageable in the shade. We had delicious food From Aesop’s Table, played games hosted by volunteers from Board Member, and VP of the Medicaid division at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Chris Reiten’s team, and enjoyed catching up with friends old and new. And of course, the ever-popular Tony Redmond performed as Elvis. He wowed the masses with his beautiful voice and incredible energy, and everyone LOVED the scarves he handed out while performing. Many have collections of scarves from Elvis over years hanging in their rooms!

This event is a favorite of just about everyone involved in our mission as it brings people together and opens the doors for connection and good old fashioned community involvement. With 36 homes spread throughout the metro, and lots of busy schedules, Family Fun Day is the one time of year we gather as a collective unit and get to spend quality time together. It is all about family—the people we serve get to spend time with guardians and family, as well as staff, volunteers and friends. It is an incredible event, who lots of laughter and smiles, and plenty of dancing.

Tony Redmond AKA Elvis always gives a great show.

Beth Tollefson, Senior Director of Program Services, has been with Living Well over 30 years and says, “Family Fun Day is one of my favorite Living Well annual celebrations. It is so fun to reconnect with people we don’t get to see every day. I get so much joy from seeing people spend time with family and friends, enjoy and dance to Elvis music, and take in the festive atmosphere. Many people really look forward to this day for many reasons—including adding to their collection of Elvis scarves.”

Sisters Mary Jo and Therese always have fun at Family Fun Day.

This family centered gathering creates an opportunity to share a meal and a day of fun with people that then organically seems to bring some people even closer. Beth notes there have been several instances of people we support getting reconnected with families they haven’t seen for a long time, as Family Fun Day is a natural way to connect and simply be together.

Beth knows it takes both energy and enthusiasm to pull this off and really appreciates all of the volunteers and support staff that helped to bring the event to fruition. It takes a lot of people to handle the planning and set up, support the games, assist with transportation and complicated parking, apply temporary tattoos, assist with food prep, and many other tasks to make the event successful. And she is grateful for all who pitched in as it’s a fun team effort that has a high impact.

Abby and David in 2011 and yesterday.

Regional Director, Ali Goepert, first started at Living Well as a teen when she needed a college job. She has been with us in some capacity since 2004, and over the years has started her own family and brought her children to various events. Ali has worked with David, who lives at Cope, since she was in college. She even vacationed with him several times, and to this day has an incredible relationship with him. David has spent holidays with her family, including the first Thanksgiving in her new house after she was married. Her daughter Abby, and son, Arron, both have grown up with Living Well as a part of their family and enjoy the work as much as their mom does. Yesterday at Family Fun Day Abby got to hang out with her friend David, and mom shared a photo of them back in 2011. The photos side by side beautifully capture the work we do here—make meaningful connections possible.

Arron and Jimmy and Ali and Justine.

Ali says, “Family Fun Day is a high energy event that brings people together. It has personally been a way for me to connect with families and people I have supported over the years that I don’t get to see on a regular basis. It feels more like a giant family reunion, with Elvis!”s Ali adds, “Living Well isn’t just my career, it has become a part of my extended family. My kids have made connections with the people we support and my coworkers. Living Well is helping to raise my kids and instill core values that I personally hold close. Yesterday Abby and Arron got to see people that they haven’t been able to connect with in years, and it was so uplifting to watch them reconnect. They also made new friends at the tattoo table they volunteered at.”

James, Elvis’ personal assistant.

And Ali agrees with Beth, saying, “This event is not an easy one to pull off. There is a lot of time and thought that goes into the preparation, and even the logistics of getting to and from admittedly cause a bit of a headache. But it is well worth it!”

Board members Kevin Pleasant, Fran McCloskey, Nicolas Tiziou, Chris Reiten, and Tony DeRose, with Sue from 3807.

To everyone involved in this special day, we say thank you. Thank you for coming, thank you for volunteering, and thank you for taking time to connect with us and the people who call Living Well home, our beautiful staff, and everyone who benefits from our services and advocacy.






We even made the news! Check out Family Fun Day on KSTP here.

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