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Steve Bergerson, who wears many hats, talked with other drivers during testing f1 / 2
Steve Bergerson selected his tools before going into Ole and Lena’s Sweet Reveng2 / 2

Steve Bergerson is a busy man.

But Bergerson, 47, wasn’t too busy to email his “Many hats” submission to the Brainerd Dispatch’s Labor Day section contest. He also wasn’t too busy to answer questions for this interview since the Dispatch picked him as the prize winner when it asked: How many hats do you wear?

And Bergerson, a teacher in the Pine River-Backus School District, definitely wears a lot of hats — 17 to be exact.

What’s your favorite “hat” to wear?

“That’s easy. Being a husband and a father. I have the greatest wife in the world and I am blessed that she said ‘yes’ 21 years ago. My children are also a vital part of my life. Watching and helping them learn and grow is fun and rewarding. My second favorite hat is having the privilege of teaching kids at school. I’ve been able to experience so much in my life, and now I get to use everything I’ve learned to relate to my students and help them learn.”

Any funny stories/adventures about any of these jobs that you can share?

“Lots of them, but I remember a call from an elderly couple around midnight. They desperately begged me to come over and fix their refrigerator because it was making a terrible noise, and they couldn’t get to sleep. When I got to the house, the refrigerator was making a strange kind of chirping sound that was very annoying. I didn’t recognize the sound, but spent about 20 minutes trying to track it down while the customers watched me in their bathrobes. In the course of my investigation I accidentally unplugged the refrigerator and the noise continued with no power. About five minutes later, I found the ‘new fangled electronic timer’ that their grandchildren gave them for Christmas in a drawer next to the refrigerator. We all laughed. I didn’t have the heart to charge them for the call, and I got a bag of cookies from the lady.”

How did you end up with so many “hats?”

“My parents tease me that I don’t switch jobs; I just keep collecting new ones. For example, I used to own and operate a good sized refrigeration company in Hibbing as my full-time job. After that, I was a full-time senior pastor in Menahga. Now that my full-time job is teaching, these others have become less, but I still stay involved. I love learning, teaching and helping others; so when there are needs that I can help with, I volunteer if I can.”

Volunteering must be rewarding as much as you do it. What’s so rewarding about it?

“Hard work, doing your best and helping others is a big part of Christianity and is part of what makes this country great. I believe God gives everyone certain talents and skills and that it is our duty to share these gifts with others. There is a certain amount of satisfaction that comes from being able to help someone who has a need. Also, I learn something new every day.”

How do you find time to sleep?

“I get about six hours of sleep each night, which is enough for now. As I get older, I might need to readjust my schedule.”

When was the last time you slept in? And was it later than 6 a.m?

“In the summer, I get to sleep in from time to time.”

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?

“Not very often. There are times I wish I could do more than I do, but I’ve actually hung up some hats over the years and I know how to say ‘no’ when needed. Also, my family is very strong and supportive. We usually have at least one day each week to relax and enjoy time as a family. I also have many hobbies that take my mind off of everything and help me relax.”

How do you schedule everything and keep it straight?

“We use Apple’s Calendar App. Everyone in the family has a different color on the calendar. When an event is scheduled on the calendar, it is immediately visible on all of our computers, our iPhone and iPad. Everyone in the family knows what everyone else is doing all the time. Also, my wife is ultra organized and makes sure our schedule is doable.”

Have you always been this active and busy?

“Yes. I hate being bored with nothing to do. Although there are times when things slow down and I immerse myself in a good book or two.”

Were you in every sport and activity in school?

“No. I was very involved in band, swimming, computers and technical aspects of school plays. The rest of my time I spent being a kid, hanging out with friends, dating, hunting, water skiing, camping, etc.”

What advice would you give to others who want to be more involved in their community?

“Just do it. There are so many places to volunteer your talents and to learn new skills. Schools, scouting, local family centers, youth centers, food shelf, church, sports, public safety, Civil Air Patrol, senior centers or helping a neighbor are a few possibilities. Getting involved helps expand your mind, and fulfills a basic human need to be a contributing member of your community.”

What have you personally gained from being so involved in the community?

“Lots of friends and the satisfaction of helping my community be a better place to live.”

If there’s anything else you’d like to add, feel free.

“There are still so many things I’d like to learn to do: Fly a helicopter, finish my pilot’s license, be a doctor, race motocross and start a Teen Challenge boys center in Minnesota. If I could live 1,000 lives, I’d learn to do everything; but since I only have one life, I have to pick and choose.”

And what will this man of many hats do with the $100 cash prize?

“I am uncomfortable answering all these questions but my wife insisted that I do it, so she is getting the $100 prize,” Bergerson said.


Colorful hats

My hats come in pretty colors. The most important job I have is being a mother/stepmother to four kids ranging in ages from 14 to 10 — three boys and one girl. Being a significant other is another very important job for me, because without each other no matter what other hats we put on every day would be a lot harder to get through. I am also a daughter/daughter-in-law, sister, aunt and friend. These hats take up some of my time but are the ones I enjoy the most.

My jobs for pay include a full-time position at the clinic in Brainerd, a part-time position promoting for a health and wellness company and filling in as a server/bartender, general Jill-of-all-trades at one of the local restaurants. — Amie Ramsdell, 31, Brainerd.

Young man is a busy man

I am the owner/operator of Nouis Home Care where I’m the administrator, accountant, food manager, HR director and the compliance coordinator all in one. I own Major League Lawn & Landscape, a large grounds maintenance company where we do snow and ice removal, lawn care and parking lot maintenance. We cover the five-state area of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.

I flip houses. I’ll have another one done by the end of July.

I’ve done contract work for the DNR, re-establishing native grasses at wildlife management areas

I am the father of two, husband of one.” — Roy Nouis, 34, Little Falls.

The new ‘normal’

One of the headlines in an AARP Bulletin is “Surviving Job Hell — Working Three Jobs to Make Half Your Old Pay.” Did I write that? I am currently working a bit more than full time, but at four part-time jobs. I think of my life as juggling balls in the air and I can’t let one drop. What would happen if one did drop? What happens if I get sick or one of the companies I work for cuts back? I can’t even let myself go there.

Because of the economy, I am doing this at the stage in my life when other people are retiring, or at least slowing down. I gave up my job as I wanted to have time for my grandkids and help my husband with paperwork. Because of the housing market falling apart, our new reality (I think they call it the “new normal”) for us is that we will never be able to retire.

I try to put a positive spin on this by starting my day writing five things I’m grateful for. Here are a few things I have written many times:

1. I am fortunate to have found jobs that allow me flexibility to be able to juggle them all.

2. I don’t have to play word games to keep my mind alert because my mind is working all the time — even in my sleep — to be sure I don’t overlook something important. I think of it as avoiding the “Big A.”

3. I work with really nice people in each of my jobs. 

4. I am never bored and wondering what to do next.

5. I can take time to help drive or attend grandchildren’s events. It takes a bit of re-arranging, but I can do it.

6. I am not tied down like I was when I had my “career” as I can juggle hours.

7. It keeps me young as I’m always moving.

8. I am able to work one of my jobs from my home office occasionally and I love that.

So there are advantages in working like this, but I would rather be doing it because I want to do it and not because I have to do it. Yes, it would make more sense to get one full-time job, and I have applied for a few, but my age is against me. So, it is what it is. I say that a lot and I don’t allow myself to look back and obsess. —  Name withheld at the writer’s request

‘Crazy with all I do’

I am responding to you about the hats because I am sometimes crazy with all I do. I am a 48-year-old mother of an 8-year-old and 18-year-old. Sports, school, jobs, hormones. Need I say more? I am also the full-time CFO of Schmit Towing, our family business of 28 years in Minneapolis, with 15 trucks and 20 employees doing about $1.8 million per year in sales. I am also the owner of Pot O’ Gold Promotions, a promotional products company that provides marketing and promotional products to approximately 15 regular customers per year plus some others. I am also the owner of a Nisswa rental property and a member of the chamber that rents our cottage out during the vacation season. I am also the daughter who takes care the best she can of my aging parents on both sides. I volunteer for VBS at Timberwood Church and contribute and volunteer with Minnesota Teen Challenge, Calvin Christian School and New to You Thriftique. I love all that I do but am often overwhelmed as I have some physical limitations as well. — Sue Schmit, 48.

Husband acknowledges hard-working wife

My wife is too humble, but she works extremely hard. Her name is Shelly Richardson, age 35. She is a mum to three boys, Liam, Callum and Kieran (ages 3, 20 months, and four months respectively).

Shelly works full time as the programs manager for the Children & Families division with Northern Pines Mental Health Service, supervising 80-100 employees covering all the area schools.

Shelly also is a faculty member for St. Scholastica (Brainerd Program at CLC), teaching four classes this fall in the Social Work Bachelors program (this a year-round program).

Finally, Shelly is in her second year of her doctorate program (Doctorate of Social Work, DSW).

Shelly is Brainerd born and bred and lives in Brainerd. — John Richardson, husband of Shelly, Brainerd.

Seven hats are worn

Hats one and two are both mom and dad! I am a divorced single mother to three children, ages 4, 8 and 11. I am fully responsible for raising and nurturing three children, providing them the love and care and financial provision of both a mother and a father. I am responsible for every single household chore from washing dishes to lawn mowing to all household and car repairs and winter snow-shoveling.

Hat three is that of a full-time office worker. I am employed full time (40 hours per week).

Hat four is the one I wear to take care of my health. I work out at the gym at least three days a week.

Hat five is chauffeur as I drive my young daughter to and from summer school during my work lunch breaks.

Hat six is the role I take at church as a participant of the Single Mother’s Support Group, helping (and receiving) encouragement from other ladies in my situation is so important to me.

Hat seven is student as I take online college classes. — Kalaya Roberts, 30, Brainerd.

How many hats am I wearing?

I work full time (40 hours plus per week) for the MN DNR Enforcement as a conservation officer.

During the summer months, I also work two days per week at the Golden Eagle Golf Course in Fifty Lakes.

During the month of September, I referee volleyball games both junior high and high school as I have been certified with the MN State High School League for many, many years!

During the winter months, I assist with scorekeeping for high school hockey (both boys and girls) games when they play at the Hallett Center ice arena in Crosby.

On Wednesday nights from September through April, I teach confirmation class at St. Alice’s Catholic Church in Pequot Lakes.

I have been on the Ice Fest Committee in Breezy Point as well as the Frozen Fore Committee on Gull Lake for at least five years, starting pond hockey at both of these events as a fund raiser.

I was certified as a volunteer firearms safety Instructor long before being hired by the DNR in 1998 and continue to teach classes with my “team” every late summer/fall.

I play hockey on the Brainerd Adult Women’s team every Monday night during winter season! —  Nikki Shoutz.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889