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Oak Crossing raises funds to benefit residents

Bertha Anderson, from left, Marlys Oswald and Jeanne Teiken, members of the Oak Crossing Family Council, hold the “Scattered Leaves” quilt, created and donated by Janelle Erickson and Jean Livingood, which is up for raffle during the Party in the Park celebration on July 19. LIBBY LARSON/RECORD

While outdoor picnics offer the promise of sunny skies, soft grass and gentle breezes, all too often the reality presents chilly rain drizzles, soggy picnic blankets, and pesky ants.

For a fun community picnic environment, food, fellowship and entertainment, without some of the outdoor headaches, check out Party in the Park.   

Essentia Health Oak Crossing Family Council is hosting the 21st annual Party in the Park on Friday, July 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Holy Rosary Parish Center.

“When we first started, we were outside. You could never depend on the weather,” said Bertha Anderson, event coordinator. Anderson serves as treasurer of the council and has worked with the event since the beginning.

Oak Crossing serves as a home to almost 100 residents in both permanent and transitional housing. Holding the event indoors also ensured that the residents that attended Party in the Park would be more comfortable.

“We’ve been in Holy Rosary for many years. It’s worked out really well, and that’s the only thing that’s changed,” Anderson said of the event. “We still carry our theme out — an outdoor picnic.”

As part of the picnic atmosphere, barbecues, chips, pie and ice cream will be served with a beverage for $6 per person. Community sponsors and members of the Oak Crossing Family Council donate the meal.

“Party in the Park is our main fundraiser. We receive some funds from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans,” Anderson said. Family members of residents also provide memorials.

Traditionally, around 300 people attend Party in the Park. Twenty-five volunteers bring the event together, preparing and serving the food.

“Off the Wall Band” and “The Front Row” will also provide musical entertainment.

In addition to the meal, Oak Crossing is selling raffle tickets for a quilt made and donated by Janelle Erickson and Jean Livingood. Tickets are each $1, and attendance at the event isn’t required to win. Raffle tickets may be purchased in advance at the front desk of Oak Crossing or at the event.

New this year is “Split the Pot.” Participants can purchase tickets for $1 each. A drawing will be held, and the winner receives half of the proceeds.

“The main purpose of our fundraisers each year is to purchase something that will enhance the lives of the residents,” Anderson said.

Twenty-one years ago, Party in the Park funded the first van for the nursing home. In the past, funds from the event have also gone towards buying a piano, aquarium, televisions and music players, and most recently constructing and furnishing a chapel space, which Anderson said is “a beautiful addition to Oak Crossing.”

The chapel’s construction was finished in 2009, and proceeds from the last few years of Party in the Park have provided seating, an altar, hymnals, stained glass windows and other supplies. Residents are now given the opportunity to attend both Catholic and Protestant services in the chapel space, and memorial services are also held for each resident who passes away.

“We’re proud of it,” Anderson said of the chapel.

“Everything we do is to benefit the residents, to make their lives more comfortable,” she said.

This year, funds are being raised with the intent to purchase towel warmers for the spas in Oak Crossing.

Anderson encourages any friend or family member of an Oak Crossing resident to consider joining the Family Council. The group meets the first Thursday of each month, excluding January, at noon in the chapel space. Lunch is provided.

For information about becoming involved, or to purchase an early raffle ticket, visit Oak Crossing, an extension of Essentia Health St. Mary’s.

Article written by Libby Larson of Detroit Lakes Newspapers