Friday, December 21, 2012

Saint Mary’s Gifts for Winona grateful for Winona’s generosity

After picking up her family’s presents through the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona program, a grandmother stopped to ask where she could direct a thank-you letter. Her beaming granddaughter had received the shoes she’d been wishing for — ones her grandmother said had been too expensive for their family’s budget.

One mother wrote that the Gifts for Winona program allows her to teach her children that Santa really does exist; she tells her children that God elicits Santa’s help in delivering gifts each Christmas.

And another mother explained that although there hadn’t been enough money for a tree this year, her children would still be able to enjoy their Christmas, thanks to the kindness of others.

They’re thank-yous that truly deserve to be passed along to the entire Winona-area community. It’s because of the generosity that flows through this town that Saint Mary’s University’s Gifts for Winona program – now in its 11th year — is able to fulfill the wish lists of hundreds of children and seniors.

This year the program helped each of the 1,465 individuals and families who registered, and we couldn’t have done it without you. Because of you, everyone received specially wrapped packages, but also the knowledge that someone truly cares.

Though the many people purchasing these gifts may never see the excited faces of the children or seniors receiving them, we are always inspired that the donations continue to flow abundantly, anonymously and caringly. We humbly thank you.

As we count our blessings for the past and upcoming years, we should also remember those less fortunate whose material blessings are a little harder to come by this year. We hope and pray that 2013 will have many wonderful things in store for these families.

The Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona volunteers extend an extra special thanks to all of you, including:

• the program’s additional partners, Winona Radio, Winona Post, and Winona Volunteer Services;

• the many SMU shoppers, wrappers, data-entry volunteers, sorters and organizers, including many students, who put in long hours without complaint;

• the many sponsoring businesses, schools, churches and organizations who helped groups of 10 or more;

• every individual who took a tag off a tree or donated money;

• Fleet Farm, Steve and Regina Craney, Walmart, Wells Fargo Bank, Merchants National Bank and Cars & Credit for their generous donations;

• the Winona Public Library, Walmart, the three Severson-Sinclair stations, the Winona Post and Security State Bank for sponsoring giving trees;

• referral agencies who provided support;

• the staff and patrons of the Valéncia Arts Center for allowing us to take over the building for one of the gift distributions, and Frances Passe at the Resource Center in St. Charles for helping to distribute gifts;

• and the area media for helping spread the word about this program.

We continue to be very blessed to be part of such a caring community.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SMU business students raise money for fellow student

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University business students and the SMU College of Business donated $525 to the medical fund established for SMU student Sabrina Bushlack-Larson, 21, of Mapleton, Minn. Sabrina was critically injured in a car accident on July 16, 2012, after the taxi she was riding in was struck by a car that police said ran a red light. A biochemistry major and three-year regular for the Cardinal volleyball team, Bushlack-Larson suffered a brain injury that initially impacted her speech, balance and mobility.

Each semester, undergraduate entrepreneurship students manage a not-for-profit retail store located in a small corner of the basement of Toner Student Center. Aptly named the “Cardinal Corner,” students choose products to sell in the store, garner donations from around campus, and sell items for on-campus organizations as part of a course within the entrepreneurship major. Each semester the members of the class choose a different beneficiary to receive the store’s profits. Students chose Bushlack-Larson’s medical fund because they felt it was important to support a fellow student.

SMU’s entrepreneurship students continue to choose charities that are near and dear to the heart of a fellow classmate, or charities that benefit the SMU community. Profits from previous semesters have been donated to the Winona Area Humane Society; Haiti Medical Mission of Wisconsin; Taylor Richmond Benefit Dance recipients; Dom Dziecka, a children’s orphanage in Chotomów, Poland; and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Minnesota.

Individuals who would like to donate Bushlack-Larson should contact the Goodview branch of Wells Fargo Bank. For more information on the Cardinal Corner or to present your request to the class to be considered as the charity of choice for the semester, contact Jana Craft, at (507) 457-1491 or Become a fan and receive the latest updates at

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

MCA announces winter semester open house

WINONA, Minn. — The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts will host its winter registration open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the Valéncia Arts Center, 1164 W. 10th St.

Here are five reasons to stop by:

  •       Visit the facility, tour the studios and classrooms, and meet our talented instructors and staff.
  •         Check out the dance attire boutique, where students can be fitted.
  •         Learn more about the new visual art and theatre division programming.
  •        Speak with members of the Friends of MCA and learn more about hands-on volunteer opportunities.
  •       Visit with members of the Winona and MCA community and meet new people who love the arts as much as you.
Class days, times and tuition vary. Financial need-based scholarships are available. For a brochure and a complete listing, go to, e-mail, “like” the MCA on Facebook, or call (507) 453-5500.  Interested students may register online, by mail, or in person at MCA’s Valéncia Arts Center.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts is an affiliate program of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

The MCA offers programming in dance, music, visual art, and theatre year-round. Classes, lessons, workshops and camps are offered to children age 3 and older through adults.

SMU Jazz combos to give concert as final exam Sunday at Acoustic Café

WINONA, Minn. — Members of the Saint Mary’s Jazz Workshop and Jazz Combo I will take their “final exam” from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Acoustic Café, located at 2nd and Lafayette streets.

Come relax and enjoy some jazz in this casual setting as the students perform jazz standards, along with a few holiday numbers.

Jazz Workshop Combo, directed by Dr. John Paulson, and Jazz Combo I, directed by A. Eric Heukeshoven, feature students in small group settings where improvisation is emphasized.

The finals jam is free and open to the public!

For more information, contact Heukeshoven at (507) 457-7292 or

Monday, December 10, 2012

MAFA program to celebrate 10th year with free concert, reception

Jazz musicians Eric Heukeshoven, left, and John Paulson, right, are hosting and performing at a free concert Saturday – in appreciation for the support the Music Access for All program has received in the past 10 years.    
WINONA, Minn. — The Music Access for All program in Winona will celebrate 10 years of service with a free concert of jazz and Christmas selections Saturday, Dec. 15, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Maplewood Townhomes Community Center, 1756 Kraemer Dr. The John Paulson-Eric Heukeshoven Jazz Duo will perform, and light refreshments will be served. This public event is being held in gratitude to the Winona community for all of the support MAFA has received.

In December of 2002, Saint Mary’s University professor Dr. John Paulson founded the MAFA (Music Access For All) program at the Maplewood Townhomes with the goal of getting instruments, music and lessons to students in need of assistance. On Christmas Eve that year, he obtained instruments for three girls in the same family and experienced the joy of watching their faces as they opened their instrument cases for the first time. Shortly after the program began, one of his best friends A. Eric Heukeshoven, also from the SMU Music Department, expressed an interest in helping with the program.  For several years, the two men taught lessons Saturday mornings at the Maplewood Townhomes Community Center and hosted winter and spring concerts to show off what their students had accomplished.  Their goal was to ultimately get the students into public school music programs to continue and expand on what they had learned.

Currently, they work through area music teachers like Paula Bratten of the Winona Middle School and place instruments with students in need of assistance. Donated instruments are checked over by Bob Ogren of Leithold Music in La Crosse, and they are then stored there until they find a new home. The program depends completely on cash contributions and instruments from the community, and many people have come forward to help.  If you’d like to donate an instrument, or you know of a student in need of assistance getting one, contact Paulson at or (507) 454-4948.  Checks can be made out to Saint Mary’s University/ MAFA and sent to Eric Heukeshoven at Campus Box 1473, Saint Mary’s University, Winona, MN 55987.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Saint Mary’s Gifts for Winona due Wednesday, Dec. 12

      WINONA, Minn. — The deadline is fast approaching to return gifts to the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona giving trees. Because the community distribution is early, gifts MUST be returned to giving trees by Wednesday, Dec. 12!

         Those individuals who have already taken tags should return their packages (with tags securely fastened) to the location where they got the tag. Trees are located at the Winona Public Library, the three Severson-Sinclair locations, the Winona Post, Walmart and Security State Bank in Lewiston. Donors are asked to spend about $35 per person. Grocery card trees are also located at HyVee and Midtown Foods.

         If you got a tag from a church or different organization, please check your tag for the date your gifts are to be returned.

         To ensure that the large number of gifts may be properly sorted and recorded, meeting the deadline is a priority.

         Tax-deductible contributions can also be made out to Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona and sent to 700 Terrace Heights #8, Winona, Minn., 55987. These funds are used for remaining tags or last-minute gifts.

         Families who have applied for Gifts for Winona should check their mailboxes for instructions on where and how to pick up their gifts.

         Several community partners including the Winona Post, Winona Radio and Winona Volunteer Services join Saint Mary’s University in helping to make this program a success.

Monday, December 03, 2012

SMU invites audiences to two performances by Trouble

WINONA, Minn. — Due to popular demand, vocalist Vanessa Trouble has added a second performance as part of the Saint Mary’s University Off The Page series.

Now there are two opportunities for audiences to take in classic holiday tunes with a jazz twist.

As her original concert on Thursday, Dec. 20, sold out within weeks, a second concert is now planned for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21. Both events will be held at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, 800 Riverview Dr.

Saint Mary’s is proud to welcome this Winona native home for these special holiday shows. Trouble has been singing and producing shows with numerous artists for over a decade. The New York City artist has honed her vocal and performance skills all over the country and abroad, fronting various jazz ensembles in New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Atlanta, New Orleans, London, Paris, Ireland, Norway and Asia.

Tickets for the Dec. 21 show are now available; the cost is $15 for adults or $12 for students and seniors. Call the Performance Center Box Office Monday through Friday at (507) 457-1715 or order tickets online at