Happy Women’s History Month!

Volunteer Insights

Happy Women’s History Month!

Happy Women’s History Month from CommonGround Minnesota! This month, we are sharing the women who inspired our heroes – our CGMN volunteers. Take a look at what women have impacted our volunteer lives below.

Katie Brenny

Great Grandmother Lee (aka Gold Shoe Grandma)

Where to start with this story. She was every bit classy yet amazing. She taught me three rules in life:

1. Use and learn your manners.

2. Never pass up an opportunity to use the restroom.

3. Learn how to play the piano to bring smiles to others.

She taught me what challenges in life are, she shared that God is in control and just pray to him. She was known for always wearing pearls and having always snacks in her purse. She never passed up an opportunity to build relationships with others and could make house clothes look fancy. She gave me so many words of wisdom – but the ones that I use today: PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens), and no one can ever take your first name nor your education from you.

Their sponsor family in Kenya, Africa

Abby is a student and my family is blessed to cover her tuition for school. Her grandmother has such an amazing story about faith, family and farming. Her husband left her with many children and now she is raising her grandchildren. She has been through so much and it is inspiring to me to just share the love and joy with others no matter what you are blessed with.

Joan Ruskamp

Joan Ruskamp from Nebraska, who got me started in CommonGround, has been a mentor to me from being a follower of God to being a leader in the beef family all the way to sharing the love of beef on trade mission trips.

Sarah Kern

Grandma Eileen

Grandma was one of the original owners of our farm. She worked right alongside my grandpa, milking the cows and mucking stalls. While she was a hard worker, I will always be most inspired by the way she loved and connected with her grandchildren. Always remembering who our friends were, what our plans for the week had been, and our favorite snacks were always in the cupboard. She called, sent me letters, saved me newspaper clippings, brought me books, and always had time for a chat. She wasn’t one for saying “I love you” very often, but she sure knew how to love well in all the little ways that mattered.

Sara Hewitt

Mom – RuthAnn Borchert and Sister – Becky Zoubek

Both my mom and my sister are two women who inspire me daily. They have been through many challenges in their life, but have overcome each one with grace and strength. They remind me daily that I can do hard things, that being a Mom is the most difficult yet rewarding job, to re-center and ground myself, and pull on my faith in God during the unexpected.

Barb Liebenstein

Margaret (Peggy) Louise Byrns

I am very fortunate to have many women in my life who have inspired me, certainly my Mom and Sister who ran and run a 3rd generation greenhouse in Northern MN. My 92 year old Mother in law who still drives and volunteers for so many things. But my greatest inspiration has come from my Grandmother, Margaret Byrns. Though we lost her 7 years ago I think of her every day.

She worked so hard all of her life in order to keep our family’s small business going. She’d get up in the middle of the night during bitterly cold winters and run out and put wood in the stoves that helped keep the greenhouse warm during the growing season.

Gram was never famous or rich but if you asked her, she didn’t need those things. She made meals for everyone during the busy days of truck farming, greenhouse, and sod farm work. She instilled faith in my sister and I along with a work ethic that never quits. My Grandma lived to be 93 years old. I miss her smile and quick laugh, but am so grateful we had her in our lives for so long.

Lauren Biegler

Friend – Kate

My friend, Kate, is someone who definitely inspires me. She is one of the most talented, brilliant, kind, and creative people I know. She is an amazing wife and mother and also finds time to be an equally amazing employee at work. She is an encourager and is always in my corner, giving me ideas I may not have even thought of and can always find a way to turn a negative into a positive.

I also admire her so much for the advocacy, time, and love she pours into her kids – but especially her little firecracker of a daughter who has cystic fibrosis. She’s a fellow mother of a child who needs a little extra time and attention – and she does it with such grace and strength. She inspires me to think bigger and harder at so many things I may not have otherwise. She is a friend anyone would be blessed to have!

Rachel Gray


The first is my Mom while she was fighting breast cancer. She was amazing.

Granddaughter – Audrey

I am so inspired by her. She motivates me to be better and make sure I can take care of this place for her.

Grandmother – Audrey

She was a true farm woman. She took care of her family during WW2 and was a welder in a factory and came home to farm alongside my grandfather. They all inspire me to be a better farmer, mom, grandma and woman.


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