I am honored to introduce to you a couple I met 16 years ago. When I first opened the home in Minnetonka, Steve and Mary Mattson listened to the dream and vision I had for Gianna Homes and the model of care I felt called to offer to those with memory loss. At the time the concept of a residential care home like Gianna Homes was far outside the norm of long term care models in Minnesota and was not readily accepted and was actually highly criticized. However, Steve and Mary immediately believed in the model and the more social approach to care that I was envisioning for those with dementia. They committed in very tangible ways to supporting our organization by financially helping out with the initial remodel and addition that we did that first summer.
Over time Steve, a successful businessperson, became my ‘go-to person’ for solid and candid business advice. Many years ago I put this question to Steve after a time when they had again shown significant generosity to our organization: “Steve, why are you so generous to us, so kind?” He said to me: “Anne Marie, God put you and I together for some reason – so that together we could do something beautiful for Him in this world.” How true that has been as I look back on the many lives we have touched in the past years. I am truly blessed to call this amazing couple my ‘friends!’
At the end of May this year, Steve and Mary had one of those moments in life where that. Steve was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumor and since then their lives and that of their family has taken a different course than they had planned. Steve’s journey over the past many months has been challenging as the tumor has relentlessly and rapidly continued to grow.
Over the summer and fall in 2015, I have had the honor of ‘hanging out’ with Steve as he recovered from two brain surgeries. I’ve learned so much about him, his personal mission of stewardship and how to live with peace in your heart and acceptance of what is. As Steve would tell you he and Mary have been richly blessed with the richness and goods of this world but they matter little to them in comparison to the relationships with his family, friends, the children of Haiti and among the list are the residents and families of Gianna Homes who he and Mary love dearly.