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You May Have Heard of Festival of Trees Put on by Fraser... But Who are Fraser Limited?

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  • You May Have Heard of Festival of Trees Put on by Fraser... But Who are Fraser Limited?More>>

  • Fraser Celebrates 13th Festival of Trees

    Fraser Celebrates 13th Festival of Trees

    For the 13th year in a row, Fraser is hosting their Festival of Trees. An annual event to help families in our community have a joyful Christmas. 155 trees in all have been sponsored and decorated by
    For the 13th year in a row, Fraser is hosting their Festival of Trees. An annual event to help families in our community have a joyful Christmas.

For a non-profit to make it 120 years running they really have to have to be tapped into the community that they're serving. Fraser Limited does that by covering demographics across the board here in Fargo. From special needs child care services to homeless youth intervention to disability care for adults, they have all of their grounds covered to help with what they call the "journey to independence." Valley News team's Eric Crest digs a bit deeper to find out how this local non-profit continues to better our community.

It took 120 years to get to this point. Today Fraser Limited helps nearly 1100 people every year down this journey called life. Every road is a bit different with it's own bumps and barriers. But from kids to the elderly they're trying to pave a road not just for comfort, but for a gratifying destination.

"We try to see where there is going to be a gap in services and then we look at our mission and try to determine if we can help meet those needs," explains Sandra Leyland the Executive Director of Fraser Limited.

Fraser's mission starts with our most impressionable... children... Their child care center has nearly 200 kids with about 25 percent requiring special needs.

"All children are gifted they just open their gifts at different times," says Leyland.

These integrated classrooms are a huge draw for some parents trying to teach their kids about diversity. Moms like Danielle Arnold of Fargo, "they don't see differences and so the more they're around people and children with differences growing up the more they understand that it doesn't matter."

Arnold says letting kids in on a life secret, that all of us are different, carries so much weight into becoming an adult that she sent both of her children there.

"They have people with special needs who help with lunch and those are their friends too. That's their friend Mary, it's not that person with down syndrome," says Arnold.

Down the road of adolescence into early adult hood. Fraser has a hand in helping those folks demographic too. In 2012 they helped more than 600 young adults at the hardest time of their young lives.

"I couldn't pay the bills and I got thrown under the truck. I was sleeping in my truck for awhile," says Chris Christensen who is currently staying at one of Fraser's facilities while he figures out how he can manage to get an apartment of his own.

"I was homeless and staying at churches," says Sakimah Hoglund who also avoided the homeless shelter by visiting Fraser.

Fraser calls it permanent supportive housing and it's for specifically for 18 to 26 year olds. They try to help you obtain a job, a career plan, transportation needs, even your next apartment while you utilize their housing. It's not your typical shelter.

"They don't rush you, they let you go at your own speed physically and mentally," say Christensen.

These young adults are put up for one month at no cost, but after that, there's a monthly fee. But more importantly Fraser tries to make sure another path is provided.

"We're not going to tell you that you have to do it our way. We're going to offer you alternatives. We're going to offer opportunity. You're going to have a chance to decide what you want your future to look like," says Leyland.

"I didn't like asking for help. I feel like if I can't do it myself, I shouldn't do it. But they helped me," says Hoglund.

"It's a place you can literally say it's home. But it's only temporary. They don't want you to sit here stay a year or two from now. They want to see your results cause they thrive on it I think," says Christensen.

Finding a job gets a bit easier with some guidance. So does getting into college. Both goals achieved by Sakimah Holund who graduated early from high school and always planed on going to college.

"They helped me get all those things that I had no clue how to get any of it," says Hoglund who now attends NDSU.

But counselors and staffers aren't going to make you make choices. They're just going to lay all of the tools on the table so these kids can build their lives back up.

"Sometimes it's as simple as helping them get a drivers license. Helping them obtain birth certificates for school. And sometimes it's much deeper," says Leyland.

"They didn't change me, I changed myself because I wanted to adjust to what they're doing," say Christensen.

While making life altering choices on your own, like going to college or getting your first apartment sounds pretty intense for an 18 year old once homeless. Intense might be the wrong word for progression.

"It was like I'm moving on with my life... Intense like good," says Hoglund.

Our last stop on the Fraser road trip deals with caring for adults with disabilities.

"I got my own place you know. My own apartment," says Jacqueline Dukart who moved from Dickinson to Fargo to stay at a Fraser facility that is home to nearly 100 special needs adults. Nine homes in Fargo for adults that are given the tools for independence.

"I get up and I get ready to go to work at the WAC," says Dukart.

For many independence comes in the form of a job that can be hard to obtain without support.

"It's better than if you'd sit there like a bump on a log all day long and do nothing," says Dukart.

"We want them feeling secure enough to make a decision that effects their life that they won't regret. One they're proud of and moves them forward instead of stagnant," says Leyland.

So while the company and guidance of others helps us all down this road called life. The folks that shared their stories of growth and progression because of the guidance and education they received at Fraser, hopefully doesn't fall on death ears.

"You learn so much from children and adults with special needs. Their outlook on life and all the petty things that we worry about," says Arnold.

"They call me their adopted granddaughter you know and so I kinda like that," says Dukart.

"I know that tomorrow I'm going to have some place to go," says Christensen.

"I didn't really know what to do with the whole college application thing," adds Hoglund.

This little non-profit in Fargo continues helping to redefine what a journey towards independence really means.

"We'll let them get comfortable, we'll let them put themselves back together. But they have to have goals," says Leyland.

Check out Fraser's website for heaps of additional information about how you can help with their mission or to see if they have a program that might suit someone you love. The link is below.

http://www.fraserltd.org/default.aspx

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