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Brotherhood aims to raise awareness, prevent child abuse

Kings of Hearts members Luke Nacey (left), Caleb Hall, Caleb Johnson and Jed Johnson give a check last year to Bridges of Hope Executive Director Kassie Heisserer and Ashley Sweet, operations specialist at Bridges of Hope, to raise awareness about and prevent child abuse. Submitted photo1 / 2
The Kings of Hearts is a local fraternal order founded in 2018 with a mission to raise awareness and help charities around the issues of child abuse. John Franzen (left), Jed Johnson, Greg Fagereng, Caleb Johnson, Seth Warwas, Cody Stange, Luke Nacey, Tom Kowalke, Shane Humphrey, Marc Hummel, Caleb Hall and Patrick Zerwas. Submitted photo2 / 2

It's trauma that involves the youngest of victims, but it's a community problem that a local fraternal order hopes to raise awareness about and prevent the violence from happening.

The Kings of Hearts fraternity will have its inaugural fundraiser from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at The Burn for Bridges of Hope and to end adverse childhood experiences.

"They approached us," Caleb Hall said of the nutrition-based business in Baxter. "They were looking for local organizations that were trying to get involved and be present in the community, and they had heard about us just from us trying to spread our message."

Fraternity brothers strive to "take good men and make them better," whose motto is "a voice for the voiceless," and values "honesty, integrity, secrecy, brotherhood," among other things.

"We've had a huge support from the community, from The Burn, and people really appreciate our message and our mission. And I think that they like to see that there is a group willing to stand up for what's going on in the community," said Hall, a co-founder of Kings of Hearts.

Hall is an account representative/vice president of social marketing at Bang Printing in Baxter.

"We've had offers to help out with other things, but there's a lot of other great organizations that can have a helping hand at that, and we really want to stay focused on the child abuse in the community."

Almost 40,000 children in the state were suspected of being abused or neglected in 2016, which represents a 25 percent increase from the prior year, according to a report released two years ago by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

"Raise awareness for the prevention of child abuse has been our main focus," Hall said. "I haven't seen any strictly men's groups that are willing to take a stand on the particular subject of child abuse ... and are willing to be a voice and a face in this particular community."

Struggling and impoverished families stressed by unemployment and addiction without social support are particularly at risk, according to the Human Services Department.

Hall is the former president of Kings of Hearts, which meets twice a month. He said all of the fraternity's members are "hand-selected," with about a six-month background check and discussion beforehand to decide if those interested in joining the order should be welcomed.

His goal last year, when the fraternal order was founded, was to raise $1,000 but the fraternal order raised $750 with internal donations from the order's members, which now number at a baker's dozen.

"Our 2019 goal is to raise $5,000, and we believe we're on track for that," Hall said in part because of Saturday's fundraiser, of which $5 of each ticket sold goes directly to the fraternal order to benefit the Brainerd-based Bridges of Hope.

"The Burn—opening up their doors, to be able to offer a great, delicious health shake—they are actually going to split the proceeds with us, 50-50—and then we're going to take those funds and in turn invest them into raising the awareness about child abuse for the community."

According to the 2017 report released by the Human Services Department, of the more than 39,500 children who were the subject of suspected abuse, 16,400 were part of child maltreatment investigations, a 43 percent increase over the previous year.

"Part of the self-healing communities model is bringing together new ways of solving problems by looking at how we can build solutions around existing resources," said Amy Wyant, Bridges of Hope Self-Healing Communities Project co-coordinator in August.

Community organizations took a new tact in August dealing with issues such as suicide, juvenile offenses and dropout rates by partnering with Bridges of Hope for a "self-healing community."

"We also have a meeting with the sheriff's office next week at some point, and we're going to be talking about how we can assist them," Hall said of his brothers. "You can say so much about standing up to child abuse, but we want to know what we can physically do."

The self-healing communities model aims to build a community's capacity to improve outcomes for health and social issues by reducing and preventing adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"We're going to be attending the adverse childhood experience conference on Monday, April 8, and I think that's where we're going to have a strong arm in getting more involved," Hall said of the fraternity and the free, public event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

For more information about the Kings of Hearts or to become a member, email koh.fraternalorder@gmail.com.

Kings of Hearts fundraiser

What: To raise awareness about child abuse and to prevent it.

When: Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 30.

Where: The Burn, 7822 Fairview Road, Suite 100, Baxter.

Cost: Tickets are $10, includes a Burn shake, tea and aloe shot.

More info: https://bit.ly/2FIp5f2

Frank Lee

Voted most likely in high school ... "not to be voted most likely for anything," my irreverent humor (and blatant disregard for the Oxford comma) is only surpassed by a flair for producing online videos to accompany unbiased articles about Crow Wing County about, say, how your taxes are being spent, by your elected officials, on issues or topics that matter to YOU.

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