Thumbs up to a Mankato couple acting on their instinct to help children in need no matter where they live.

Justin and Kelli Neumann returned from a mission trip at an orphanage in Thailand last year and decided their work needed to reach beyond that trip. They and a few others from the mission group established the GROW Thailand Christian nonprofit this year to support the Kae Noi Orphanage.

Looking at the children’s photos and profiles on the nonprofit’s website, it’s no wonder the Neumanns’ hearts ached for the orphans, most of whom escaped conflict and poverty in neighboring Myanmar.

One girl’s father was involved in a drug cartel and died and the mother couldn’t support her. Parents of two boys sold them for less than $30 U.S. dollars and another family retrieved them for placement in the orphanage. Children with no support system or education are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking in Myanmar and Thailand.

Donations to GROW Thailand ( will go toward the children’s education and needs such as food, shelter and medical care. Thailand’s government funds some but not all schooling for youth, while the orphanage leads Bible studies, Sunday school and English lessons. The nonprofit also hopes to raise enough money to buy a vehicle to get children to advanced medical care.

The Neumanns’ decision to take action after witnessing the orphans’ needs and finding out what they have gone through is inspiring to anyone wondering how they can make a difference.

St. James diversity

Thumbs up to the community of St. James for hosting their third annual Multicultural Fiesta on Sept. 14.

St. James has a large immigrant population — some 35% — and the community has worked hard to embrace its diversity.

There is no better way than to get people together at a fun event and get to know each other. The lineup of entertainment and activities is centered around the idea of celebrating all immigrants, from the Scandinavians who founded the community to the more recent Hispanic and Latino immigrants.

The organizers’ goal for the event is simple but important: understand each other, respect each other’s differences and learn more about each other’s culture.

Disorderly GOP

Thumbs down to GOP Rep. Matt Grossell, R-Clearbrook, for his drunken disorderliness in May at a St. Paul hotel bar and the willingness of GOP former Speaker Kurt Daudt to blame Grossell’s removal from committees on the DFL.

Grossell was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, but a police report showed Grossell had threatened the officers who arrested him, pointing out he was a legislator and said “it would be hell to pay” for his arrest.

In an often tawdry explanation of Grossell’s behavior that night, the police report also noted he was treated at an emergency room, demanded he be given “crocs” shoes and called the emergency room nurse a “sick bitch.” He has since attempted to apologize to all involved.

Upon the information contained in the report, DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman this week removed him from his positions on the public safety and judiciary committees, noting she did so mainly because he threatened authorities and used his position of power to suggest he is above the law and would be dealing with issues directly affecting the state’s law enforcement community.

In a remarkable statement referring to Grossell’s removal, former Speaker Kurt Daudt, who noted Grossell’s status as a former Clearwater County sheriff deputy, told Minnesota Public Radio Grossell’s removal was politically motivated.

Daudt’s out of line defending one of his party who was far out of line.

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