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Answering a call to serve, artist combines passions for the greater good
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Abigail Dorn has always felt a strong desire to serve in whatever form that takes, from mission work in other states to assisting at her church, community events and much more.

One day, while watching a video on YouTube, she came across an advertisement for the nonprofit, Charity:Water, about the need for clean water around the world. It broke her heart to see the poverty, desperation and hunger on people’s faces, so the recent high school graduate from Kenyon asked God for guidance on what she has to give and how she could help.

“I wanted to do something about it, I didn’t want to be the kind of person who heard it and moved on with their life,” said Dorn.

She remembers hearing an “impression spoken on her heart” in the form of the single word, art. Over the last six months, Dorn has been hard at work establishing her new nonprofit, Arts With Love. With a deep passion for both people and art, Dorn particularly appreciates how both combine in this new venture.

Over the last six months, Abigail Dorn has been hard at work fulfilling a desire to help others through a newly re-ignited love of art. Dorn, a recent high school graduate from Kenyon, established Arts With Love, a nonprofit with proceeds benefiting five charities she selected. (Michelle Vlasak/southernminn.com)

Essentially, Dorn sells handmade, original design watercolor cards locally and online with 100% of the profits given to five select charities twice a year.

Dorn explains the charities were hand-picked because of their “dependability and commitment to help children and families in need.”

The five charities are:

• Charity:Water — The nonprofit is committed to bringing clean water to individuals across the world who have absolutely no access to this basic resource

• Free International — The organization works to end human trafficking in the United States

• International Justice Mission works to end human trafficking globally

• Convoy of Hope is a faith-based, nonprofit organization, that helps empower others to live with greater independence and freedom from poverty, disease and hunger

• Compassion International, which is committed to helping children flourish.

Dorn hopes to add more charities to that list in the future.

Though she doesn’t consider herself a business person, as soon as she started creating her nonprofit, she felt the Lord put all of the right people in the right place. She was able to come across connections to help her with various aspects, like social media and tax papers, without even searching for them.

Although the nonprofit is just beginning, Dorn has partnered with several local businesses to sell her cards in their stores, along with her online shop. Fleur de Lis Gallery in Faribault, Carrin Kath LLC in Owatonna, From the Heart Gifts (pop-up shop) in Cannon Falls and Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls are current locations where those interested can find cards. Her cards are coming soon to Area 57 in Wanamingo.

Though she will be moving to Colorado Springs in the next few weeks to participate in a six-month missions program, Dorn will run her charity remotely.

Looking forward to taking her service to the next step, Dorn is thankful to have art back in her life. Admitting she was always really insecure as a child with everything she did, Dorn found the insecurities greater with art, because it was so easy to compare herself to others. Through a long process and a few art class, Dorn says God brought it back around to the other side.

“Now I enjoy art, and now I can give it to other people and bless people through it. It’s a whole turnaround from where I was five years ago, even,” said Dorn.

Each of “Arts With Love” designs are hand-crafted, original designs which include both seasonal and year-round options. Along with the online shop, cards are available for purchase at local businesses in Faribault, Cannon Falls and Owatonna. (Michelle Vlasak/southernminn.com)

Not wanting to undermine her struggle, Dorn says she grew a lot through her struggle and knows there was purpose in it. Dorn also appreciates the feedback she’s been given, particularly when people tell her what they like about the cards and how they connected with certain designs.

Step by step

Corie Jo Dorn, Abigail’s mother, feels her daughter always had the desire to serve others, but may not have always felt sure how to do it.

”When this came up, it felt really big, but she took it step by step,” said Corie Jo. “She has really taken ownership and leadership of it.”

Though it was over 20 years ago, Corie Jo said what her husband, Andie, brought back after working overseas for two years was a defining moment for their family.

”He’s always been a good voice to remind us that the rest of the world doesn’t live like we do,” said Corie Jo. “That shaped our family’s approach and desire not to take things for granted but to find things to help and serve locally and beyond, internationally.”

Seeing that youth nowadays have so much influence and the ability to do so many things, Corie Jo encourages them to “go out and do them.”

Josiah Bachtle, youth pastor at River Valley Church in Faribault, where the Dorn family has attended for many years, says he, too, finds it extremely important to serve the local community and give back. He says it’s even more important to reach out to a world that is hurting and in need of assistance.

As a church, Bachtle says they focus on the fact that their hearts are global and that they care about the world around them. Through Kingdom Builders, Bachtle says they gave away $6.5 million last year alone to organizations all over the world. Causes include combatting human sex trafficking, disaster relief and aid for orphanages.

Being able to work with Dorn for the last two years in River Valley’s youth group, Bachtle noticed she really grabbed a hold of that concept and ran with it.

“She’s fresh out of high school, showing people around her and in her life that it’s never too early to change the world, one art piece at a time,” said Bachtle.

As for the nonprofit Dorn created, Bachtle believes that the development is not random. He credits her parents with instilling a desire to serve in all their children.

“Every single one of their kids has that heart to help others, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them go out of their way to help someone else out,” said Bachtle. “As a youth pastor, I’m so excited to have students like Abby. It really shows how powerful these young kids are. They can really change the world.”

Harness racing quickly turns into a tradition for one Kenyon family
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From the trainers, owners, breeders and grooms, it’s all hands on deck to get a horse ready to compete in a harness race.

Though the race itself consists of a mile run — about a 2-minute journey down the track — horses require months upon months of preparation and training beforehand. For Justin Anfinson, that means working seven days a week and hoping all of his hard work pays off at the race track.

Justin Anfinson, of Kenyon, races down a dirt track during a previous harness race. Though he doesn’t drive in races anymore, Anfinson instead invests his time in training and preparing horses for races. (Photo courtesy of Justin Anfinson)

Horses start training at a young age, he says it takes a lot of practice and preparation to get the horses to do the correct things and going the right way.

A Kenyon native, Anfinson is an owner, trainer and breeder of harness horses. He was elected president of the Minnesota Harness Racing Association in 2019, after about eight years of serving on the organization’s board of directors.

The MHRA represents all of the drivers, trainers, owners and grooms who work in the Minnesota Standard bred industry. Organized in 1951, the association continues to “promote and protect the welfare of the horses they race and those involved working with these extraordinary animals.”

Harness racing has become a passion of Anfinson for many years. He followed in the footsteps of extended family and is continuing the family tradition with immediate family members.

Growing up watching his grandfathers, uncles and cousins train horses for harness racing in Cannon Falls, Anfinson decided he, too, wanted to try it out for himself while in high school. He would attend county fair after county fair watching his family, and took occasional trips to the track at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. Now, Anfinson travels to various fairs in Minnesota and Iowa, and races his horses at Running Aces in Forest Lake.

Anfinson’s family has been in the business since the 1970s, and he started training about 17 years ago while attending Kenyon-Wanamingo High School.

He now lives in Kenyon with his own family, and trains on his family’s Kenyon farm. Outside of training runs on the farm’s dirt track, Anfinson doesn’t drive horses himself, but rather focuses on training the Standardbred horses, both his own and others’.

While the race itself is an adrenaline rush, Anfinson personally enjoys the challenges that come with training.

“I like working with young horses and the challenges they give you, fixing them and figuring it out and hopefully winning,” said Anfinson.

He says his family also enjoys attending races, and most family members own at least a few horses.

Brian Anfinson, Justin’s father, too, enjoys the challenge of racing. He also helps train the horses for races, and races in Iowa on the weekends.

“I like seeing the young horses each year and how they are going to do,” said Brian. “I also like to win, that’s all part of it.”

Brian says that his entire immediate family is involved in harness racing to some degree.

From May through September in Minnesota, Justin can likely be found on the road or at a fair/race. This fall, Justin will leave for Kentucky until the first of the year for more racing action. The rest of the year, he works on getting the horses getting ready to race.

One of Justin Anfinson’s horses, Luna Love So Good, pictured right, appears in the Nicollet County Fair harness racing in St. Peter. (Philip Weyhe/southernminn.com)

The horses typically earn anywhere between $4,000 and $15,000 a race if they do well. High-profile finals races can pull in as much as $50,000.

With harness racing a growing sport in Minnesota, Anfinson says it’s growing. The money, he said, is an added bonus and brings in more racers. When the money gets better, the number of horses racing increases.

Along with races at Running Aces track in Forest Lake, races take place locally in areas like St. Peter, Cannon Falls and Wheaton.

COURT REPORTS: Poor park job leads to drug charges for driver
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Careless driving is to blame for a Northfield woman’s arrest on drug and impaired driving charges.

Arielle Love Gillis, 23, was arrested Saturday after a Faribault police officer reportedly saw her drive over a small concrete barrier as she was attempting to park in the city’s downtown.

While speaking with the officer, Gillis reportedly gave him the name of another person, something Gillis later said she did so the officer wouldn’t discover she doesn’t have a Minnesota driver’s license. The officer also suspected Gillis was impaired by a controlled substance. In addition to needle marks on Gillis’ arm, he observed her eyes were bloodshot and watery, and that her pupils were constricted, according to court documents.

The officer reported that Gillis slurred her words, spoke erratically, was unsteady on her feet and walked back and forth, swaying her body weight, and asked her to perform field sobriety tests, which she failed.

Following her arrest, officers reportedly noticed a syringe cap on the front passenger seat of the vehicle. During a search of Gillis’ pickup, officers found three pipes with suspected methamphetamine residue, hypodermic needles and a white and brown rock-like substance consistent with heroin.

After speaking with investigators, Gillis allegedly admitted heroin was inside the vehicle and estimated the amount to be 1 gram. Defendant said she used heroin that day and claimed her heroin use did not affect her driving.

The suspected heroin weighed 4 grams with packaging. One of the three pipes was field tested, and tested positive for methamphetamine.

Gillis was charged Tuesday with felony third-degree drug possession, fifth-degree drug possession and giving an officer a fake name, both gross misdemeanors, and misdemeanor driving while impaired.

Judge Karie Anderson set Gillis’ bail Tuesday at $20,000 with no conditions.

According to Minnesota court records, Gillis has twice been convicted of petty misdemeanors. Once for possession of paraphernalia, once for possession of a small amount of marijuana.

In other reports:

• Tisha Nicole Whitcomb, 40, of Faribault, was charged with third-degree possession of methamphetamine after a Faribault police officer, who knew there was a warrant for her arrest, approached her vehicle on Monday.

While speaking with Whitcomb, the officer reportedly observed a torch commonly used to heat drugs before they’re consumed sitting on the passenger seat of her vehicle. A second officer performed field sobriety tests, all which reportedly indicated impairment. Following Whitman’s arrest on suspected driving while impaired, a K9 officer alerted to a portion of the vehicle where officers reportedly found three hypodermic needles, four glass meth pipes with residue and a scale with residue. The pipes and scale all tested positive for methamphetamine.

Whitcomb has two convictions for fifth-degree drug possession, one DWI conviction and one convictions for refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test.

Judge Kari Anderson set Whitcomb’s bail at $20,000 with no conditions Monday.