C21 Atwood



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CENTURY 21 Atwood shares the #relentless story of Master Sergeant Ted Johnson, Duluth, MN.

The feeling of community and support that Wounded Warriors United MN provides is probably incomprehensible to most. Most civilians, that is. Ted Johnson understands the importance and need of creating this community, and how it has dramatically and positively impacted Veterans in Minnesota. This is the beginning of the story and why Ted is our #relentlessneighbor.

“Sharing stories helps. Understanding is so important. Getting together and being in each other’s company makes us understand that we are not alone.” 

Ted is a Duluth, MN native, and is active in the military, full-time today. He is in the 148th Fighter Wing, Weapons Loader. He left for the Marine Corps Boot Camp 10 days after his high school graduation. Duluth, born and raised, Ted has experienced much in military life including being deployed to Iraq. Right after boot camp, Ted came to get to know someone from that boot camp closely. Shortly after, that person tried to take his life.

“Civilians do not go through or share the same intense experiences we do. Leaving your family, unsafe environments, responsibility to what you do, what you see that others cannot imagine”. 

Deployment revealed the unimaginable, and shortly after, Ted had another close friend take his life. Those life experiences led him and some close fellow veterans to start the Wounded Warriors United Minnesota chapter in 2016. 

“Only vets understand what other vets know.” Ted is relentless because he wants to help other veterans have positive options for their future lives and to help them have better outcomes emotionally. WWUMN takes veterans on outdoor excursions 10 to 12 times a year and is active through a lot of word-of-mouth promotion. “All are welcome – veterans we know, people that reach out through social media, word of mouth, active, retired, medically retired. All are welcome”. In one of those first outings, Ted remembers a participant telling him, “My brother has not smiled in I don’t even know how long. To see him laughing and enjoying himself and not worrying about anything else, is awesome.” That, right there, is what a community like this can do. 

WWUMN covers all costs for the participants. The goal is to leave everything behind with no worry, and not a concern about a single financial aspect. “Everything is better when you get in nature with fellow veterans. We can understand each other without having to tell the whole story.” Ice fishing trips, goose hunts, wake boating, hunting, anything outdoors! As Ted describes – the comradery that is built within a couple of hours of meeting people is impressive. 

“Being able to provide that experience of sharing without judgment. That leads to understanding and better emotional health.  That is awesome.  Through shared understanding, life will have a positive trajectory again. Getting through the highs and lows of each person’s unique experience and building momentum to have more highs together. It is ok if you make a phone call to help your mental and emotional health”

This #relentless neighbor post might help us all understand veterans, even though we may never share the same experience.

If you would like to learn more or donate to the Wounded Warriors United Minnesota chapter please visit their website at www.wwumn.org and make sure to follow them on Facebook @woundedwarriorsunitedminnesota. Spread the word to and share their posts with all of the fellow veterans in your life.

Please help us in honoring Major Sergeant Ted Jonhson, our outstanding CENTURY 21 Atwood Relentless Neighbor of the Month.

Relentless Neighbor of the Month Holly Karsjens

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CENTURY 21 Atwood shares the #RELENTLESS story of Holly Karsjens, Albert Lea, MN.

“We need to do this because it is good for everyone’s soul. That is the language of humans.”

This is a story in the making, and though we are sharing the beginning you will want to know what happens for months to come. It is a story of what humanity looks like. Holly Karsjens is on a #relentless mission to accomplish expanding all communities in Albert Lea, Minnesota and her progress so far proves that we are all stronger together. Compassionate, independent, outside-of-the-box thinker?  Check, check and check. Her marketing background, leadership, event planning experience, and collaborative art space studio in Albert Lea including dance, yoga, art, and music for kids and adults, really got her involved in the community. Especially as an advocate for other businesses. Like many other entrepreneurs, she had to close the doors on that business in March of 2020. 

“The phone call heard around the world” as she explains it. The art studio was the start of something different, the start of people coming together in unique ways. How do you keep building a community when the community can’t be open?

At that moment, in March of 2020, Holly accepted a position with the Albert Lea Convention And Visitors Bureau, which was combined with the Main Street Program Director position. She had an idea of the challenge she was facing, but it led to an opportunity to create so much more than she expected. Holly’s background was a great match for the CVB and Main Street Organization, a perfect fit for all that was needed and all that was to come. It was also an “Oh, you want to have events and tourism, but we are in a pandemic!” kind of moment. Holly was a positive force that was needed.

“Making a great community impacts positive change. Little things can make big impacts, a ripple effect.” 

This ripple effect that Holly is creating is attached to broadening what community means. Attached to comfortable conversation embracing new and modern thought perspectives.  “Growth means exploring different thought processes, being open at the heart of the community.” It can be a bumpy road while exploring that type of change. Holly likes to say to her colleagues and community members, “…you can be mad at me today, but I know you will come to our future events. By me doing these things it makes it a safer space for your kids and grandkids, and it’s expanding what community means.”

What has been evolving because of Holly? Just a little bit…  Albert Lea’s first ever PRIDE event coming up in 2023!  This year's Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day events and working on public art features. Before she began this impactful role, Holly earned the 2018 Citizen Of The Year award and uses that for inspiration. It is her compass, her standard of what she must accomplish for the future. “Main Street is building, rejuvenation is happening in downtown. The CVB is having great events and we are able to market them. We are breaking boundaries and elevating community growth.”

Albert Lea, MN is feeling the positive effects and it is validated by the comments of community members. During that Mexican Independence Event that just happened on 9/16 people came up teary and emotional because they now feel like the community is making space for them.  People have written letters. Heartfelt, open dialog like, “…hey, I never really felt seen in our community but now I do know.”  “I have been worried because I see and hear things people say, but because you are in leadership it is changing, slowly moving ahead.”  Holly knows she is finding ways to get beyond divisiveness.

Just keep moving is this year’s mantra. Community outreach is building. “Build the things so that the future leaders can continue to expand on them. When people speak of this community I want them to have an endearing feeling of fond memories. When people speak positively about the community they are more inclined to be kind, and be a part of culture change while embracing each other.” 

Holly has visualized and executed the premise that expanding the view of a community means more for businesses, more for the business leaders in the community, and more for bringing people together and enlightening perspectives. “If there is nothing here, no one is going to come and visit.”

Built on Holly’s driving force that the residents of the community are #1 and the visitors #2, it all comes back to “Humans are the piece that matter.”

Visit the CVB and Main Street Organization at WWW.EXPLOREALBERTLEA.COM or WWW.ALBERTLEAMAINSTREET.COM to see what Holly and the Albert Lea community are building up next!

Relentless Neighbor of the Month Trisha Anderson

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CENTURY 21 Atwood shares the #RELENTLESS story of Trisha Anderson, Partners for Housing, Mankato MN.

DIFFERENCE MAKERS – Helping the community one person at a time makes a great impact.

Difference makers impact individuals in all sorts of ways, big and small. Trisha Anderson of Partners for Housing in Mankato, MN understands that it can be [...]

Relentless Neighbor of the Month Dani Murdoff

Relentless Neighbor of the Month Dani Murdoff

Century 21 Atwood shares the #RELENTLESS story of Dani Murdoff, Herman, MN.
“KIND IS COOL, in all the little ways and big ways too!”
There are people in need in every community, and it can be hard for them to ask for help. So hard in fact that it could be your neighbor, your friend, your child’s schoolmate, and you may not even know they [...]

Relentless Neighbor of the Month Pat Woratschka

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Relentless Neighbor of the Month Pat Woratschka

CENTURY 21 Atwood shares the story of Pat Woratschka, New Ulm, MN.

“I try to deserve their respect, and treat them with dignity and respect”

Congratulations to the December 2021 CENTURY 21 Atwood #relentless Neighbor, Pat Woratschka, from New Ulm, MN.

You know Pat Woratschka, he has lived in New Ulm, MN all his life, and he is your [...]