On the Street: February 26

A new foster care coordinator is welcomed, two local businesses join Parent Aware program and Alexandria realtors receive special recognition

Martha Gutierrez

New foster care coordinator to serve area families

Martha Gutierrez joined Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota as the new therapeutic foster care coordinator, serving west central Minnesota.

On an average day, there are approximately 9,300 children and young adults in care, according to most recent statistics from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Lutheran Social Service recruits foster families, provides specialized training and in-home support to families and offers intensive mental health services to promote healing and address each child’s unique needs.

Previously, Gutierrez worked for the County of San Bernardino Department of Behavioral Health for more than 30 years before she retired from her position as a social worker. She earned her communications degree from the University of California, San Bernardino, with an emphasis in human communication and a minor in public relations.

Gutierrez also worked as a health scholar with the Research Infrastructure in Minority Institute. Her research included the influence of community aesthetics on health and wellbeing, as well as factors in access to healthcare and healthcare outcomes.


Gutierrez said that more foster parents are needed. Ideal foster parents have love and patience for children, a willingness to learn about the unique needs of each child, a flexible work schedule and stable housing.

To learn more about foster care, including who is eligible to become a foster care provider, how to become licensed, the children in foster care, foster parenting options and resources available to foster parents, visit or call 320-424-3859.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota.

Today, with 2,400 employees and 10,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service supports one in 65 Minnesotans.

Statewide, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults.

For more information about the work of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, visit .

Two local businesses join Parent Aware program

A group of area childcare programs recently earned their Parent Aware Ratings, including two in the Alexandria area: Calvary Lutheran Preschool and Alisha Hoekstra's Family Childcare Daycare.

The mission of Parent Aware is to help families find quality care and education for their children. These child care programs all volunteered to go beyond health and safety requirements and further support child development.


The experiences children have during their first few years of life will later shape the adults they become, making it especially important for all children to have access to quality care and early education.

With few exceptions, any licensed child care provider is eligible to go through the Parent Aware process and receive a rating. Through this program, childcare providers may receive coaching, training, grants, higher reimbursement rates and the ability to accept Early Learning Scholarships. More than 2,900 programs in Minnesota are rated, and a full list is available through an online search at .

Alexandria realtors receive special recognition

Edina Realty recently announced that realtors from the Alexandria office were being recognized for outstanding sales performances, market knowledge and customer service as members of Edina Realty’s Executive, Chairman’s, Master’s, President’s or Leadership Circles.

Membership in the company’s circles places them among the top agents as follows: Executive Circle, top 3%; Chairman’s Circle, top 8%; Master’s Circle, top 14%; President’s Circle, top 28%; and Leadership Circle, top 42%.

These realtors received the recognition in their respective circles: Stu Wood, Executive Circle; Sue Palmquist, President’s Circle; Julie and Shawn Olson, President’s Circle; Gloria Iverson, President’s Circle; Christy Schmitz, President’s Circle; Nicole and Mitch Doering, President’s Circle; Wendie VanKirk, President’s Circle; Gail Freitag, Leadership Circle; and Chris Pinatiello, Leadership Circle.

Edina Realty is one of the nation’s largest real estate companies with more than 75 real estate offices and more than 2,300 realtors throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

The company closed more than 30,000 real estate transactions and $9.98 billion in sales volume in 2020. For more information, visit .

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