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Auggie Social Worker Driven to Support

SaraKaiserMany single moms work hard to juggle child care with maintaining a home and working a regular job (or jobs), only to find they have no safety net when something goes wrong. What happens if she gets sick? If her son has trouble in school? If she loses her job? Who can she count on to back her up?

Sara Kaiser ’08, a social worker for Rice County (Minn.), has seen first-hand the need for daily support for single moms. She knows there are many resources available to help them and their children, and she is passionate about helping them make those connections, and in creating extra support. In recent years, a variety of her experiences—working for the police department, staffer at a mental health practice, social worker at an apartment complex, and volunteer at a women’s center—have given her a solid background for her current social work. In addition to helping countless families, she has convinced the mayor of Northfield to designate a month for “Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness,” and she has worked in collaboration to create a young moms’ support group, which features guest speakers, simple conversations, and activities like cooking and scrapbooking, and negotiated with local churches to offer childcare and free dinners for the Friday evening gatherings. She has discovered, particularly in her internship at the Northfield Women’s Center and her work at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, that she has found her life’s calling, and she is pursuing a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

With parents who were always giving back in the community and helping others (her father was mayor of her hometown, Medford, Minn.), Kaiser says she was just “raised that way.” When she read a newspaper article in 2008 about an 18-month-old who needed a liver transplant, she was touched and flew to Omaha for the operation, donating one-fourth of her liver. Unfortunately, little Ava Cowell died several days later, but Kaiser has no regrets.

A single mom herself, Kaiser is grateful to have grown up in a close-knit family and knows how reassuring it can be to have a supportive family, involved and willing to “be there” for her two children, ages 8 and 3. She values seeing her parents weekly, and knows they will show up for her kids’ sporting events and other activities as often as they are able.

Kaiser recalls her early days as an Augsburg student, not sure of “what she wanted to be when she grew up.” She is especially grateful for the help of her academic advisor, Timothy Pippert, who helped set her on her path. Her ties to Augsburg are likely to remain strong, due in large part to the man she is now dating, Mark Goers ‘10, a police officer and Auggie who earned the same degree as Kaiser did.

—Cheryl Crockett ’89