The art of doing something

In this day and age of a widening gap between the haves and have nots, you’re either doing something, or you’re doing nothing.

The growing homeless camp along Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis is a monument to people doing nothing.

Joanne Senander did something, which is why her obituary in today’s Star Tribune by reporter John Ewoldt is a perfect example of how you want to go out of this world.

She did something.

“Jo was an embodiment of love in action,” her minister said.

After she retired, she dedicated herself to helping the poor. With her family scattered to the winds, she started volunteering at St. Stephen’s homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, eventually organizing the Thanksgiving Free Store, for which she shopped all year for clothing and goods the homeless would need.

In recent years, 500 to 700 people received free clothing and personal items. Senander and her volunteers shopped all year for the event. They waited for Menards’ annual $1.99 sale on gloves and the 70 percent-off sales at Kohl’s to pick up items.

Senander and volunteers usually sought out sweatshirts and coats in larger sizes. “She knows the people who wear them stuff them with extra layers of newspapers to be more ‘thermally sound,’ ” one person wrote in Senander’s winning nomination for KARE-TV’s “Eleven Who KARE” award to volunteers.

She rarely talked about how she became devoted to such work. But she was likely influenced by divorce from her first husband, who left her with five kids under the age of 7. Senander later married Don, who adopted the kids, and the two added a sixth child, Kriss, in 1961.

She died earlier this month. Cancer. She was 86.

You’ll likely not be able to read the obituary without thinking, “what will mine say?”.

  • Guest

    “When you did that for the least of these, you did that for me” Matthew 25:40

  • Kassie

    Please explain how the growing homeless camp is a monument to people doing nothing.

    Part of the reason the camp has grown so large is because people ARE doing something. People are bringing needed supplies and food. The city has set up outhouses with hand washing stations. All kinds of volunteers are offering their services. It has become a safer place for homeless folks who are usually scattered throughout the city. The number of homeless in the city hasn’t increased due to it, it has just been concentrated in one location.

  • bri-bri

    The camp is on Hiawatha Avenue, not Minnehaha. (Easy mistake to make, I’ve lived in the neighborhood for ten years and still mix ’em up.)