Built on a History of Excellence

Reflection Room Renovations

Posted January 1, 2019

Several years ago, two families of Guardian Angels Care Center made generous donations to enhance the Reflection Room – a designated place for all residents, residents’ families, and Guardian Angels’ staff – to use as a quiet place for prayer and meditation. It’s available all hours of the day and all are welcome to visit.  George and Joan Zabee donated a stunning stained-glass window in memory of Joseph and Frances Zabee and Thomas Zabee.  The Wilson family donated a beautiful altar in memory of Roland and Edith Wilson. The stained-glass window and altar added such  beauty to the room and Guardian Angels will be forever grateful  to the Zabee and Wilson families for their donations.

Dan Dixon, Donita Grell,
Chaplain Joe Calandra and
Joan Zabee, current Care
Center resident and donor of
stained-glass window.

As time passed, we found our Reflection Room in need of renovations. With the assistance and sponsorship of the Friends of Guardian Angels, led by Chair Donita Grell and a group of auxiliary volunteers, the project began. After many updates our Reflection Room is once again a welcoming space for all who seek a quiet place to spend time with family or private meditation. This summer the Care Center hosted a consecration for the Reflection Room and Chapel where Guardian Angels’ Chaplain Joe Calandra resided over the blessing.
Thank you to all the Friends of Guardian Angels’ members for making these renovations possible. Your continued hard work and fundraising efforts allowed for this beautiful renovation and new items for the Chapel. We are sincerely grateful for your many years of volunteer efforts and commitment.

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Angels in Action!

Posted August 25, 2018

I remember many trips to the Guardian Angels Care Center to

celebrate birthdays and Mother’s Day with my Grandma Schlechter.

The whole family would be there. It was a large gathering.

Those are really good memories! –Ron Stricker

L to R: Kelli Horner, Adam Horner, Gloria Stricker, Audrey Horner, Ron Stricker.
Front: Katherine Horner

For Ron and Gloria Stricker, Guardian Angels has always been a part

of their family. Grandma Victoria Schlechter (Ron’s Grandmother)

made her home here and brothers, sisters, cousins, and family from all

over would join in celebrating birthdays and Mother’s Day. Gloria’s dad

moved into Guardian Angels after living in Jamestown, ND for 90 years.

“As difficult as the situation was, the move went well and Guardian

Angels staff was amazing with him,” said Gloria with tears in her eyes.

Currently, Ron’s mom Mary is living in a Guardian Angels community.

“When you go there to visit your family, you see a whole generation

of people who need care,” said Ron “Then you start to realize the

significance of Guardian Angels in our community and the importance

of ensuring they are able to carry out their mission of providing

exceptional care to seniors and their families.”

Neither Ron nor Gloria grew up in wealthy families, but their families

did teach them the importance of giving back. They are faithful church

supporters, blood donors, and always look out and care for others. This

is something Ron and Gloria passed on to their children.

“We obviously grew up with Guardian Angels always being a part of

the Elk River community,” said Adam Horner. Adam and Kelli Horner

are the daughter and son-in-law of Ron and Gloria Stricker. For Kelli,

Guardian Angels was always part of holiday celebrations and trips to

see her grandparents and even great-grandparents. Adam and Kelli

then started coming to the Guardian Angels Spring Galas and soon

realized the importance of sustaining this important mission. When

the time came for the couple to create a will, it only seemed natural

to include Guardian Angels in it as one of their beneficiaries. Kelli said,

“Growing up, generosity was always modeled for Adam and me, and

we want to set that same example for our children.”

Both the Stricker and Horner families wish more people would

understand the importance of leaving a legacy gift because it’s so easy.

Anyone, at any age or income level, can make a legacy gift and make

a lasting difference in the lives of seniors through Guardian Angels.

To make a difference with a legacy gift, contact Deb Weston at

 Guardian Angels at 763-635-4485 or visit our website at guardianangelsmn.org

and click on Ways to Give.



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Palm Sunday Reflection

Posted March 29, 2018


 Last Sunday,  the Church around the world will celebrated Palm Sunday beginning the Holy Week during which we remembered Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where he was welcomed with shouts of love only to be killed amid shouts of hate seven days later.

Today, we again pause our journey through the Psalms of Ascent to begin our reflection on the coming week’s solemnity. Today’s word of encouragement and gentle challenge comes from part of the message of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem as recorded by St. John.

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

The next day, the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out; “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel…”

The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

Here’s Your Word of Encouragement: During the years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, many cultures honored important people in public by placing palm branches in their walking path as a sign of respect. The act had a practical purpose of helping the individual being honored to keep their feet free from mud or dust from the road. Romans did this to honor kings and generals parading though town after major victories. In today’s text, the Jewish people cheering for Jesus as He entered the Holy City did this for Him because they wanted to honor Him as the military leader they hoped would set them free from Roman rule.

But that’s not the kind of king Jesus said he was in His First Coming. Jesus was the king who came to set His people free from their bondage to sins like self-worship and hate. Jesus did not come to crush the Romans who were occupying sacred land given to the Jews by God. He came to crush the kind of idolatry of self that was occupying their own hearts and the souls of their leaders. He came to put to death the kind of greed that made them seek to kill Jesus and a man like Lazarus who was an “inconvenient” living witness to God’s divine power revealed in Christ rather than themselves.

Today, I invite to rejoice because your savior is near. If you are in need of a fresh start as Spring is about to truly dawn upon us all, I promise you that if you reach out to Jesus by faith with thanksgiving and real repentance, He will answer your prayers and make His healing presence known to you.

Here’s Your Gentle Challenge: Today’s Scripture painfully reminds us that we, who hail Jesus as king one moment; may in the next, deny him, even joining with the crowd in shouting; “Crucify him!”

Will you let Jesus put to death any kind of emotion in you that resembles His opposition in today’s text?  Would you let the Lord work in your spirit this Holy Week to put to death any kind of self-interest that puts your own gain or maintenance of temporary power above the genuine wellbeing of any other human being? Will you also join me in longing to worship Jesus as He is, not as we want Him to be, embracing every good thing He has for us along with moments of struggle that draw us closer to Him?

As we recall the passion of our Lord this week, Let us go with Jesus in faith and love; so that, united with Him in His sufferings, we may also share His risen life in this world and in the world to come.

In darkness and in light, in trouble and in joy, help us, O Lord, to trust your love, to seek your purpose, and to praise your name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Blessing of God Almighty; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always.

Fr. Joe

Rev. Joseph Calandra, Jr., M.A.

Director of Chaplaincy

Guardian Angels Senior Services

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 Guardian Angels reminds you not to forget seniors this Valentine’s Day! This special day is not just for young loves and children.  Here are five ways to reach out and do something special for the older folks in your life!


  1. Bring dinner to an elderly person, especially if they live alone. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it can even be take-out. Eating is a social act and there are many physical and mental benefits to breaking bread together.
  2. Volunteer at a senior care center or do something to help a shut-in. If you have an extra hour or two per week/month, consider sharing your time with Guardian Angels Care Center, or one of the Assisted Living Communities. If you live near someone who is elderly and can’t get out often, volunteer to run some errands, shovel their walk, or even offer to watch a movie with them.
  3. Write a hand-written letter to a loved one who lives alone or is in senior care. In this age of technology, it is a treat to receive a real letter in the mail. Many seniors will not only read, but they will re-read and re-read these letters as a source of enjoyment.
  4. Shop the Guardian Angels Gift Shop for sweet and fun Valentine’s gifts (400 Evans Ave, Elk River). This gift shop, located in the GA Care Center, is run by volunteers and has an assortment of gifts for everyone on your list. Not sure what to get? Try the amazing and award-winning fudge. Proceeds go towards Friends of Guardian Angels Care Center and help to support exceptional health care and services to residents and families.
  5. Make a donation to Guardian Angels in honor/memory of someone you love. A beautiful way to celebrate someone you love is to make a donation to Guardian Angels “in honor of” or “in memory of” them. Simply visit guardianangelsmn.org and click on the Ways to Give tab. We have special cards that can be sent to acknowledge your gift. All gifts are tax deductible.

These ideas will not only make a senior feel loved and special, they will make you feel loved and special too, by doing something good for someone else.


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One Million Reasons to be Thankful!

Posted August 28, 2017

One Million Reasons to smile!

1million pic

Gala Committee Members gather in front of a sample bus which will be purchased with proceeds from this year’s Gala.

The Guardian Angels Gala committee has a million reasons to smile these days, as a recent report showed that $1,000,000 has been raised at GA Gala’s over the past 15 years!

“It’s an amazing accomplishment when you think about the investment that donors have gifted to the seniors in our community through these events. If not for these dollars, Guardian Angels buildings and services would look significantly different than they do today” said Dan Dixon, President and CEO of Guardian Angels. “Proceeds from past Galas have funded the Care Center Capitol Campaign, including the recent Bailey Lane renovation, buses, Club GA Wellness Center, and numerous pieces of equipment and furnishings that benefit our seniors and their families. We’re thankful and humbled.”

A huge thank you to the Gala Committee, volunteers, and staff who work diligently to make these events a success, and thanks to the generosity of our supporters. Linda Krieger, co-chair Debra Urista, co-chair Chris Anderson Sandie Barthel Marilyn Bina Gina Cavanna Dan Dixon Jane Houlton Carol Lager Sally Lubrant Eloise Miller Kayla Miller Dawn Moyer Charlene Sheets Terri Snyder Gail Weber Deborah Weston Debra Wilson

If you’re interested in helping with the Gala Committee or other committees at Guardian Angels, contact Deb Weston, Fund Development Director at 763-635-4485.


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Guardian Angels Gala!

Posted February 22, 2017

Join us for Guardian Angels Red Carpet Event-tickets still available!


Saturday, March 11, 2017
Courtyards of Andover
13545 Martin Street NW, Andover, MN

 The paparazzi will eagerly await your arrival at 5:30pm. You will be greeted by a cast of celebrities and
enjoy hors d’oeuvres, fabulous silent auction, games and more!
 If you wish to be a table sponsor, join us as a guest or make a donation please follow the link below!

For more information contact
Deb Weston-dweston@ga-er.org or 763-635-4485

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The Great Giveaway Award Scholarship!

Posted December 3, 2016

dec blog

Anna Kunkel with Pullman Place member Eloise Miller

In the fall of 2015, members of Pullman Place Cooperative accepted their marketing committee’s suggestion to host a garage sale and call it “The Great Giveaway.” They felt it was a good way to sort through their kitchens, closets, and storage areas to eliminate items they no longer needed, and to get people from the community to visit their beautiful building. Donations were suggested with proceeds going towards a scholarship for a graduating Elk River High School senior who pursues her/his education in the field of healthcare management. The event was a huge success and they were pleased to award a $500.00 scholarship to 2016 Elk River High School graduate Anna Kunkel. Anna plans to pursue a degree in nursing at Mankato State University. Pullman Place Cooperative members plan to host another “Great Giveaway” in the spring of 2017 to offer more scholarships.

For more informaion on Pullman Place Cooperative call 763-633-0999 orvisit www.pullmanplace.org

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Volunteers make each day brighter!

Posted September 28, 2016

When staff and residents see Andrea and  a 8 year old golden doodle, coming down the hall, they greet the dog  first.  Everyone loves Tuesday afternoons because Andrea visits  residents, staff members and visitors with her trained Therapy Dog, Summit.  Summit now knows his routine and often plays catch with his favorite ball.  They both hear wonderful stories about dogs the residents have owned.

Andrea and her husband, Ray,  moved to Elk River in 2015 from Kansas.  While in KS she became interested in and curious about pet therapy.  It wasn’t long before she and Summit were in class.

They volunteered with Victory in the Valley, an organization that supports cancer patients.  Summit brought cheer to them as they received chemotherapy, waited in waiting rooms, or visited them in hospitals.  He especially enjoyed curling up in a bean bag chair with a child.

After getting settled into their new home, Andrea found herself with a little extra time on her hands and contacted Guardian Angels about volunteering-that was over a year ago!

GACC has benefited from her desire to become part of the community! It is a mutual relationship between Summit and the residents (and staff) -he loves the residents and the residents love him!

Andrea also volunteers in the Gifts and Treats shop one time per week.   Volunteers really do make a difference!  Smiles on our face and paw prints in our hearts.  Guardian Angels Volunteers make each day brighter!

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Guardian Angels is growing!

Posted August 16, 2016

Guardian Angels believes it has a winning Otsego site

by Jim Boyle
Editor Elk River Star News
Guardian Angels leadership just wrapped up its most recent round of strategic planning, and they burst out of the board room like thoroughbreds coming out of the gate at Churchill Downs for running in the Kentucky Derby.

“We’re coming into our second 50-year run as we celebrated our 50th anniversary last year,” Guardian Angels CEO and President Dan Dixon said. “We’re so proud of the communities that have supported us and our staff, the residents, the members and the clients that have come.
“We’re committed to being there for the next 50 years as a quality senior care provider. We look forward to the future.”
The faith-based nonprofit has provided health care, housing and supportive services to seniors and their families in the spirit of Christ’s love since 1965, Dixon said.
The organization’s hub is in Elk River with its 120-bed skilled nursing unit, and it has spokes out to other locations in Elk River, Zimmerman, Becker, Albertville and Coon Rapids with at least one more coming.
As part of its strategic planning, its board of directors prioritized its next three building projects, starting first with a crown jewel of a project it will propose on the Mississippi River in Otsego.
The city, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this past year but has yet to land senior housing, will welcome the proposal. The Otsego City Council has identified senior housing as a top economic development goal.
“It’s an amenity that the city currently doesn’t have and one that the council feels is important to provide,” Otsego City Administrator Lori Johnson said. “We understand the importance of being able to stay in your community as you age and, further, that it is important to younger residents to have senior housing close to their homes to relocate aging family.”
Otsego officials have had conversations with several senior housing developers in the past couple of years, Johnson said. Otsego has been on Dan Dixon’s radar ever since he arrived in Elk River 15 years ago.

Graphic illustrations by Pope Architects  Guardian Angels is now working on the feasibility of a 100- to 120-bed facility on land it now owns in the Waterfront East development of Otsego. The facility would have a main dining room serving meal options seven days a week along with all the other amenities other sites have, including transportation. A portion of the 15-acre property it bought is being sold with the thought of a luxury apartment complex being built next door.
Graphic illustrations by Pope Architects
Guardian Angels is now working on the feasibility of a 100- to 120-bed facility on land it now owns in the Waterfront East development of Otsego.
The facility would have a main dining room serving meal options seven days a week along with all the other amenities other sites have, including transportation. A portion of the 15-acre property it bought is being sold with the thought of a luxury apartment complex being built next door.

“I had housing staff tell me, with the waiting list Guardian Angels Elk River has, if housing could be built in Otsego, we could fill it,” he said.
Dixon has found himself checking out farm fields here and there over the years in Otsego, but never really saw one that jumped out as a good fit.
When Ron Touchette, Guardian Angels’ real estate agent and volunteer for the organization showed them the Waterfront East space, Guardian Angels leadership embraced it immediately and got to work and closed on the property in recent weeks.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful piece of land, made available through others’ misfortune, really,” Dixon said of the property that was foreclosed on after the economy soured. “Other people suffered because of it. It’s available and its a significant location for Guardian Angels.”
Dixon said his organizations hopes to create a great partnership with the city of Otsego, a big economic driver for the entire Waterfront development and get Guardian Angels established before any competition has a chance to gain a foothold on the area.
The hope is to build a facility in 2017. The idea sits will with Otsego Mayor Jessica Stockamp.
“I believe Guardian Angels has earned an excellent reputation in the area and we would be excited to welcome them to a new site in Otsego,” she said.
Waterfront East, although originally planned as a retail hub, is being considered for other uses.
“The market has changed significantly since Waterfront East was originally platted, and the city needs to respond to those market changes,” Johnson said. “The Planning Commission and City Council will determine through the application and review process if senior housing fits with the new vision for Waterfront East.”
She said it’s easy to see why Guardian Angels was attracted to the site, noting it’s a beautiful location along the river next to a city park. Plus, it has restaurants and retail in very close proximity, Johnson said.
“It appears to be a good fit for the location,” Johnson added.
Next on the strategic building plan for Guardian Angels would be an expansion of Engel Haus in Albertville. It has filled the 63-bed facility and has land it can expand on. Guardian Angels hopes to do that in 2019 or 2020.
And the third project would be to construct a four-story senior housing facility at the site of The Gym and Flowers Plus, which Guardian Angels recently purchased for $750,000 to help it complete its Elk River campus in the next five years or so.

Otsego project first on deck
Dixon and his board did not want to lose out on the opportunity to serve Otsego, and when presented the idea of the riverfront property, the organization got right to work.
Guardian Angels is now working on the feasibility of a 100- to 120-bed facility on the land it now owns to see what the logical breakdown of units would be for independent living, assisted living and memory care.
“We want to go four stories tall so we gain the views of the river as amenities for the seniors,” Dixon said.

Graphic illustrations by Pope Architects  This aerial perspective shows Guardian Angels and a potential neighbor in relationship to the Mississippi River. These are the hopes of the senior housing provider, which will submit application to the city of Otsego later this year.
Graphic illustrations by Pope Architects
This aerial perspective shows Guardian Angels and a potential neighbor in relationship to the Mississippi River. These are the hopes of the senior housing provider, which will submit application to the city of Otsego later this year.

The facility would have a main dining room serving meal options seven days a week along with all the other amenities other sites have, including transportation.
The project, like Guardian Angels’ projects in Albertville and in Coon Rapids with Autumn Glenn, would feature the latest remote monitoring technology. E-Neighbor technology helps staff monitor the seniors in their daily activities and helps detect health concerns before they are even known by the staff member or the senior.
It notices things like lack of motion, lack of movement, the number of times a refrigerator door opens, the medicine cabinet gets accessed and the number of times a resident gets in and out of bed.
“It can alert the caregiver to check the unit,” Dixon said. “No longer does the loved one end up on the bathroom floor with not being able to summon help or a nurse.
“The technology helps us maintain a higher quality of service and helps us to work smarter.”
The plan also calls for making use of the riverfront and to construct a foot bridge over the mile-long retaining pond that parallels the Mississippi River.
The long-range plan is to expand the facility 200 to 250 beds.
“The future is here,” Dixon said. “The baby boomers are coming. The expectations (are) for quality, less cost and for the latest technological advancements.”
The senior housing provider, which employs more than 600 and provides services for more than 3,000 people annually, is also looking at selling a portion of the 15-acre site it bought to a developer of luxury senior apartments.
Among the ideas that have been presented by a suitor are a fourth-story restaurant with views of the river and a pool as well as a food co-op and assorted retailers on the first floor to accompany the senior housing project.
Guardian Angels is working with Pope Architects on drawings of both facilities, which would be linked by a skyway of some type. Meanwhile, it is also vetting the possible purchaser of the land targeted for senior apartments.
Guardian Angels has begun talks with Otsego city officials about industrial revenue bonds that would be needed to be sold to finance the project.
Guardian Angels will be selecting a contractor and will go before the Otsego Council later this year to begin the process for gaining project approvals.
“A year from now in July, we would like to have the bonding completed and the footings going in before freeze-up,” Dixon said.
That would also bode well for the next two projects.
“There’s a rhythm and a momentum and a sense of urgency to the population explosion that we’re having,” Dixon said. “We feel like we can do a project every other year, and with our infrastructure and staffing we manage though it.”

For more information please contact Kari McHenry, Marketing Director, @ 763-241-4466 or kmchenry@ga-er.org

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The Grace Crucifix

Posted July 7, 2016


Guardian Angels Care Center has been literally “graced” with a marvelous crucifix. Located in the skyway reaching across the resident dining room, the activities room/chapel and the gift shop on the 300 Wing, the crucifix was crafted out of olive wood by German craftsmen from Oberammergau, Bavaria. I refer to it as the Grace Crucifix because of the peace its presence brings and the fact that it was donated to the Care Center by the family of Virginia Grace Heed Wagner, who left this world on November 3, 2015 at the age of 90. Revealing Christ as the ultimate giver of forgiveness, grace and peace, one of the crucifix’s many blessing is its size (53” tall and 37” wide), which requires one to look up.

One of Virginia’s daughters, Margaret Wieker writes, “The crucifix symbolizes our gratitude for the physical and spiritual care our beloved mother received from Guardian Angels staff. We will forever be grateful for the meaningful and spiritually restorative relationship Virginia established through pastoral visits from Chaplain Quill and chapel services, as well as the gracious care she received from Nurse Sandy and her loving aides Debbie and Anna.”

The crucifix shipped to the United States in the 1950s, spent 60-plus years in a private estate in Duluth, Minnesota prior to its new home at the Care Center. “The significance of Duluth was not lost on our family, as Virginia and her four siblings were raised on Woodland Avenue in Hunter’s Park, where she attended school at Stanbrook Hall. Virginia’s heart was bound to her hometown of Duluth and the rich memories it provided. We feel that our mother’s memorial and the crucifix were destined to come together and create a deeper meaning. Virginia’s fine arts education, appreciation for things of beauty and long-lasting involvement in her church made the crucifix a natural choice for her memorial. We feel particularly blessed for the dignity and compassionate care Virginia received at Guardian Angels.”


Virginia Grace and the love of her life, Edward Gardelle Wagner. Circa 1947

No doubt the Grace Crucifix has found a wonderful new home and the story of our interdependence rooted in God’s grace with love and kindness will last through eternity. Come! Share in the wonderful experience of forgiveness, grace and peace expressed through the beautiful Grace Crucifix at the Care Center.
Peace and Blessings, The Reverend Margaret Quill, Chaplain.

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