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  • Writer's pictureNielsen Studios Inc

Updated: Jun 1

American Faces No. 85

On a recent chilly March morning, in an unassuming warehouse space in Fridley, MN, we found Reverend Shawn and Reverend Jamie Morrison, ministers ordained with the Free Methodist Church denomination, surrounded by crates and barrels full of donated shoes. Together, they operate Good in the ‘Hood, a non-denominational not-for-profit organization providing food, shoes, basic foot care, holiday help and hope to local communities in the Twin Cities.

The Morrisons are on mission together: to influence, inspire and impact individuals, families and entire communities for good. ‘’For good’ is a play on words to imply both noble deeds and to promote perpetual impact,” says Shawn, “We want to do what we do, for good, for as long as possible.”

They’ve actually been ‘doing good’ a pretty long time. The two have been married 35 years, and serving together even longer. “We’re a lifetime and a million miles from where we started,” says Jamie.

They went to school together at Bethany College of Missions in Bloomington (now Bethany Global University). Following graduation, Shawn worked as an outreach evangelism director, preparing students to serve in local communities and in cross-cultural missions. Jamie also attended the college, and joined the school as a student advisor. They later pastored together at churches in Bloomington.

Together, they pursue their shared vision for Good in the ‘Hood: changing lives together, doing simple acts of kindness with the community rather than merely for the community. “It’s not just doing good,” says Shawn, “But helping people grow and share, encouraging and inspiring people to move forward in life.”

The Morrisons have developed an organic perspective on ministering to the community, and mentoring their team of staff and volunteers. They call it a “greenhouse of grace.”

Jamie says, “Much like a greenhouse offers a safe place for plants to grow, promotes plant growth, and prepares plants to be successfully transplanted into the real world, in serving humanity, it’s our goal to be safe, promote personal growth, and prepare people to successfully live in the real world.”

Their vision for inspiring kindness and desire to help others grow, cultivated among their many volunteers and partner organizations –and they would say, nourished by God’s blessing – has yielded a bounty in acts of kindness, demonstrating God’s love to the community in practical ways.

In 2022, Good in the ‘Hood distributed more than 3 million pounds of food over multiple sites to more than 133,000 hungry, hurting people. They provided over 24,000 pairs of shoes/boots to shelters, schools, and the underserved. In all, since the ministry’s inception in 2003, Good in the ‘Hood has been able to inspire intentional kindness and bring basic resources and practical expression of genuine care to more than 1,000,000 people.

Through it all, Shawn and Jamie have developed a deep respect for each others’ strengths. “As Executive Director, Shawn’s about the big picture. He builds the house,” Jamie says, “I make the house a home.” Jamie serves as the Director of Operations and HR. “She provides the traction to keep us moving forward,” says Shawn, “And she’s the anchor to keep us from drifting.”

As they reflect on the Good in the ‘Hood team, their partners, volunteers and community, Shawn and Jamie agree, “We’re better together.”

They say they’ve learned to build trust and community by employing “four L’s” – look, listen, learn and love.

With that formula, we can all be better, together.

Photos by: Nielsen Studios

Writing/editing by: Scott Whitman

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  • Writer's pictureNielsen Studios Inc

American Faces No. 84

We’re in The Butchery, an independent meat market in Maple Lake with owner-entrepreneur Doug Lindenfelser. He’s calling out to customers by name as they come in, and breaking off our conversation every few minutes to run back behind the counter and help fill orders. It’s a warm, welcoming atmosphere, with beautiful meat displays and a nostalgic feel. Just the look of the place stirs thoughts of family, friends and backyard BBQs and makes me want to fire up my grill.

Doug looks the part too, with his checkered flannel shirt and butcher’s apron – he’s clearly a man in his element; enjoying the moment, breathing the bacon smoke, living the dream.

Who’d have guessed that just three years ago, by Doug’s own admission, he “knew zero about running a butcher shop, or cutting meat, or making sausage.”

“I was working as an art director and designer in a large corporate wholesale business, and I just hit a wall. I needed to make a change,” he says.

Doug’s an artist and a creator, and he enjoys serving people. He knew he wanted to build his own business, likely something involving retail, where could apply his creative skills in design and marketing and connect with customers.

“I didn't care what it was,” says Doug, “It could have been a t-shirt store or a hotdog stand, whatever. I just wanted to do my own thing.”

The quaint roadside meat market in Maple Lake came up for sale, and Doug took the leap. In 2020. It was a tough year to launch a new business. Doug rolled up his sleeves and dove in with a passion.

“First thing I did was re-brand the business. I changed the name, put out a sign that said ‘new ownership’ and redesigned the whole shop,” says Doug, “There was an opportunity to put my own stamp on it, totally create the retail experience and market the shop the way I wanted.”

Of course, there were a few things to learn about running a butcher shop as well. It’s a small operation, bringing in wholesale boxed meat from local suppliers, then cutting and preparing the retail products – smoked meats, sausage, bacon, steaks, roasts and about anything you’d want to throw on a grill. Doug was able to purchase the rights to the previous owner's award-winning sausage recipes, which gave him a good start. And he called in some expert advice from a 40-year butcher shop veteran. It turns out the meat business runs in the family.

“My Uncle Gordy runs Hackenmueller's Meat Market in Robbinsdale,” says Doug, “He talked me through a lot of questions as I was getting started. But at first he said, ‘Don’t do it’ – it’s too hard, it’s tough work, long hours, you won’t have time for anything else. He was right, it’s hard work.”

Doug says the community rallied to the new business, responding to his customer-centered efforts to provide a great retail experience, exceptional product quality and friendly service.

“We really hang our hat on service and taking care of people,” says Doug.

Along the way, Doug has secured relationships with local suppliers, allowing The Butchery to offer high-quality locally grown products, an appealing draw for discerning local customers.

Doug says all their pork is sourced from local producer, Glencoe Pork Company, and most all their beef is sourced wholesale from nearby Midwest suppliers. They also have a unique beef product only available locally.

“We recently partnered with Eden Valley Wagyu – the only source of certified 100% Japanese Wagyu beef in Minnesota – to be their exclusive retailer,” says Doug, “You can only purchase their product directly from their farm, or from us.”

Today, The Butchery of Maple Lake is hopping, with displays packed with fresh products, and customers coming in every 5 minutes. Doug now employs seven other people (four full-time), and keeps the shop running full-speed six days a week through the Summer.

“Starting Memorial Day it’s game-on, with Summer grilling season and all the cabin traffic,” says Doug, “I dropped down to five days a week for now, just so we can catch our breath.”

He may be trying to catch his breath, but Doug is clearly having fun.

“I always told myself that when I start my own business we’re going to have fun,” says Doug, “I really enjoy the people – my team, and my customers – building those relationships. And I know my customers appreciate that I appreciate them.”

Doug’s story is great encouragement for anyone wanting to pursue their passion. He’d probably tell you to take the leap and chase your dream. But if you’re wanting to launch a business he offers this simple advice: be ready to give it everything you’ve got.

“When you own your own business you have to put in the time and the work,” says Doug, “You get out of it what you put into it.”

Wherever you may be, do what you can to encourage and support your local entrepreneurs or small business owners. And if you're out Maple Lake way, stop in to The Butchery, grab some steaks or sausages for the grill and say hi to Doug. We’re pretty sure Doug’s welcoming smile, the great grilled meal, and the alluring scent of bacon smoke will bring you back. Grill on!

Photos by: Nielsen Studios

Writing/editing by: Scott Whitman

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  • Writer's pictureNielsen Studios Inc

Updated: Mar 1

American Faces No. 83

John Parks loves the hunt. There’s a conspiratorial gleam in his eye when he talks about his latest find. His friends and fans call him Johnny Junk.

“People started calling me Johnny Junk when I was a kid,” says John, “The guys in the local gas station would give me old spark plugs and junk parts. I was always dragging stuff home.”

His dad loved old cars. His mom collected antiques. “I didn’t have a chance,” he says.

Johnny Junk & Co. in downtown Anoka, Minnesota, looks like a man-caver’s dream, full of vintage beer and gas station signs, car memorabilia, old RC airplanes and antique “big boy toys” of all kinds. The store’s an homage to John’s long-time passion for automotive and motorcycle artwork and the small-town culture of yesteryear.

“As a kid, I’d go with my dad to car shows and swap meets and ask him to drop me at the gate. I’d buy stuff right off the trucks as they came in, picking the cool stuff before anyone else saw it,” says John.

Eventually he’d collected so much that John’s family suggested he open a store, just to help clear out the stash. But he says as much comes in the doors as goes out. “I have more stuff now than when I started,” he says.

John’s regular gig is commercial design, plus hand-lettering and custom pin-striping on hotrods and motorcycles. He also makes customized period signage, re-creating the signs his customers grew up seeing in their hometown or the family cabin.

The Johnny Junk & Co. store, filled with John’s custom replica artwork, beloved automotive memorabilia and vintage signs, is an easy blending of old and new. It has a comfortable nostalgic vibe that invites folks to hang out and visit for a while, like they used to.

Maybe that’s why John claims the store is “just a hobby.”

“I like taking time to hear people’s stories about the stuff they bring in. I probably don’t spend as much time as I should negotiating prices,” says John, “If I really had to make a living at it I wouldn’t be having as much fun.”

As you go about your day, take time to stop and visit with someone new, take in the moment, and hear a story. You may just meet a guy like Johnny Junk, and find the treasure of friendship in surprising places.

Photos by: Nielsen Studios

Writing/editing by: Scott Whitman

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