Tamarisk publishes a bi-annual newsletter to keep our volunteers and supporters up-to-date with all the latest news and information.

Below is a list of some of the more current newsletters in PDF format. Just click to download and view. Feel free to send them to family and friends who you think may be interested in Tamarisk.

If you would like to subscribe to receive our newsletter, please fill out the “Subscribe To Our Newsletter” form at the bottom of the page.


Support Tamarisk Today

Your donation helps us continue to support families facing terminal illness at no cost to them.

Donate Now


Tamarisk has been featured in several newspaper articles. Click on the tabs to read excerpts from these articles. Click the Read More link to read the full articles.

“Andover Nonprofit Provides Practical, Emotional Support

Article by: Anna Pratt
Special to the Star Tribune
February 11, 2014 – 1:13 PM

When Barb Otterness and Jan Rickbeil get together each week, they might fold laundry, make supper or just sit and talk.

These are little things, but very meaningful to both women. Otterness, a part-time preschool teacher, visits Rickbeil as a volunteer through Tamarisk, an Andover-based nonprofit that provides nonmedical assistance to people dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

Eight years ago, Rickbeil, 52, was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a debilitating disease for which there’s no known cure. It’s getting harder and harder for her to get around, and her speech is greatly impaired.

Rickbeil’s three children, whose ages range from 17 to 22, act as personal care assistants to her while her husband works. When Otterness stops by the family’s home in Cedar, it gives everyone a much-needed break, Rickbeil said during their get-together last week, via a computer program that reads aloud her typed-up words.

Jeanne Haus, program manager for Tamarisk, said that’s what the organization is all about. Its mission is simple yet profound,
she said: “We’re there to provide comfort and support to people” as they near life’s end.

Read More

“A Helpful Hand to Those During Their Greatest Time of Need”

Originally published in ABC Newspapers’ Opinion section
Thursday, July 24, 2008
by Eric Hagen, Staff writer

When Pat McKeever was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago he and his wife Juanita McKeever moved from South Dakota to Anoka to be closer to their family.

Juanita McKeever found that she still needed help from others to provide 24/7 respite care for her husband, who is now 73 years old, and she found this help from a non-profit organization named Tamarisk, which provides companionship for children and adults with medical conditions.

The name “Tamarisk” comes from the Bible story of Abraham offering comfort to strangers crossing the desert. He gave them water and offered them rest under the shade of the Tamarisk tree.

Through Tamarisk, which is based out of Prairie Oak Community Church in Andover, the McKeevers met their own angel named Tom Hakala.

Hakala, 67, meets with the McKeevers once a week for about three hours. After he retired in 2002, he wanted to follow through on a commitment to himself to volunteer and after working for a couple of different groups, he eventually heard about Tamarisk.

Read More

“Tamarisk: Serving Others Through Illness”

Originally published on North Metro TV
Wednesday, April 19, 2018
by Danika Peterson, News Director

Rita Felling is a single mother. She shares her Fridley home with her children.

“I have three sons. My two youngest have a one hundred percent fatal muscle wasting disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” said Rita Felling.

Rita has seen several cases of Duchenne through her life, but didn’t expect it to reach her children.

“I had three brothers with this disease. I grew up being told I was not a carrier. My first son was born, and we had him tested right away. He didn’t have it, so we hung on to the fact that I’m probably not a carrier,” said Rita.

Then Cody was born.

“He didn’t roll over the way he was supposed to,” said Rita. “Everything that he was supposed to do was delayed.”

He was officially diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at eighteen months old. Josiah was born a few years later. He also has Duchenne.

“Young men who have this disease don’t live past their late twenties. My sons are in their early twenties, and are entering the last phase of the disease,” said Rita.

The Fellings have medical aides that help with basic case for Cody and Josiah, but Rita was a parent who wanted more for her boys. While searching for opportunities that might be right for them, she found Tamarisk.

“What Tamarisk does, we offer non-medical companionship to those in the end stages of a terminal illness,” said Kathy Dahl, the director of development at Tamarisk.

Through Tamarisk, the Fellings were paired with volunteer Beverly Anderson. Beverly has been a Tamarisk volunteer for ten years. She visits three homes once a week, simply to be a friend.

“She has enriched my sons’ lives in so many ways,” said Rita. “She’s been a grandma, a grandma that we didn’t have.”

While spending time with the Fellings, Beverly will often build Legos or solve puzzle with Cody and Josiah. Legos and puzzles are a few of the things they have the strength to do. Bev is happy to take part in any activity that makes them happy.

In other homes, volunteers do a variety of things.

“It really will vary, depending on the family’s needs, or the companion’s needs,” said Dahl. “Sometimes that volunteer is there solely for the family, and they just need support, they need someone to talk to.”

During Beverly’s visits, Rita has the time to catch up on medical paperwork, or mow the lawn, or sometimes just take a nap, knowing that her children are cared for and loved.

“We offer all of these services free to everyone,” said Dahl. “We truly believe that no one should walk alone at this time in life – regardless of your income, where you live, what your circumstances are – we just want to meet you where you are.”