Lending a helping hand- Milaca woman’s to-do list completed by casino staff, community volunteers

Photo by Jeff Hage, Union-Times Phylis Krueger sits in a lawn chair and watches as her to-do list is shortened by volunteers of Grand Casino’s Lend-a-Hand program which took on projects for about six hours on Monday, Aug. 28. Photo by Jeff Hage, Union-Times Curt Neumann paints Phylis Krueger’s garage. Neumann once worked for Fransen Decorating in Milaca. Photo by Jeff Hage, Union-Times A crew install gutters on the south side of Phylis Krueger’s Milaca home. Photo Provided The Lend-a-Hand crew is pictured at the Phylis Krueger home in Milaca at the end of the work day. Photo by Jeff Hage, Union-Times Jim and Jesse Gerads of Milaca-based Jim’s Mille Lacs Disposal level the ground where a dead pine tree and dilapidated shed had been located in Phylis Krueger’s back yard. Photo by Jeff Hage, Union-Times Crews carry a board after cutting to size for Phylis Krueger’s garage.
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Photo by Jeff Hage, Union-Times Phylis Krueger sits in a lawn chair and watches as her to-do list is shortened by volunteers of Grand Casino’s Lend-a-Hand program which took on projects for about six hours on Monday, Aug. 28.

Phylis Krueger had a week vacation planned for this week at Breezy Point near Pequot Lakes.
But 25 visitors stopped by her Milaca home and delayed her travel plans until Monday evening.
Those visitors were community volunteers from Milaca-based Jim’s Mille Lacs Disposal and Koch’s Hardware Hank and employees of Grand Casino Mille Lacs, who spent six hours on Monday, Aug. 28 giving Krueger a home makeover through Grand Casino’s Lend-a-Hand program. In its 13th year, Lend-a-Hand is a program developed by Grand Casino Mille Lacs’ facility department as a way to give back to the community. A department committee receives nominations from Grand Casino associates, interviews the nominees and selects a person for the makeover.
A former driver for Mille Lacs county Development Achievement Center (DAC), Krueger spent 17 years doing what she loved – helping people. On Monday, Aug. 28, she took great pride in watching people help her.
“This is fantastic,” Krueger said, as she sat in a lawn chair watching members of the crew build ramps leading to her house and garage. Krueger was nominated for the makeover by her daughter-in-law, Ann Krueger, a slots supervisor at Grand Casino Mille Lacs. Phylis Krueger’s son, Jacob, also works for Grand Casino Mille Lacs, in housekeeping.
Ann Kruger said she knew Phylis would be the perfect fit for a home makeover.
“We knew her to-do list, and it was too large for family to help her get done,” Ann Kruger said.
There were also some things around the house that Phylis needed for her own physical safety, Ann Kruger said.
Phylis Krueger has lived in her 1920s home by herself since her husband Charlie died unexpectedly in October 2013.
Two years after Charlie’s death, Phylis needed hip surgery. In October 2016, she had back surgery.
She’s also had both her shoulders and both her knees replaced.
Since the surgeries, getting around has been more difficult for Phylis than it used to be.
“It’s hard carrying the groceries up the steps,” Krueger said.
That’s why the Lend-a-Hand crew was busy constructing a pair of ramps. They also replaced weathered wood panels on her garage, painted the garage to match the color of the house, removed a dead pine tree from the back yard and made repairs to the sidewalk around her house. New rain gutters were installed on the exterior of the home. Inside her home, the ceilings were repaired and painted where water damage had taken its toll, carpets were shampooed, an inoperable freezer was removed from the basement. Her pantry was modified so it would be more safe. The kitchen and dining room received a deep cleaning, as well.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Krueger said.
Krueger said the gift she received from Grand Casino Mille Lacs changed her life. The repairs have taken a big load off her mind. She said the project washed away many of her worries had will allow her to concentrate more on her health and her family.
“It’s a big relief for me. It’s taken a lot of worry off my mind,” Krueger said.
Todd Christensen, vice president of Facilities for Grand Casino Mille Lacs, concurred.
“We were happy to take on this project for Phylis. We know the work we completed today will have a direct impact in her healing. She will be able to worry less now that her list is complete.”
By day’s end, when the hard work was completed, the Lend-a-Hand crew topped the project with a special parting gift- a hand-crafted birdhouse that was mounted to the stump of the dead pine tree removed from the backyard.
“They tried to put a lot of love into it,” said Sarah Barten, public relations manager for Grand Casino’s parent company, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures.