Small Change; Huge Impact

November 23, 2021

Cooperative’s Operation Round Up® Program Supports Non-Profit Member Quiet Oaks Hospice House

Nestled among the trees in Stearns Electric Association’s southeast territory, Quiet Oaks Hospice House provides a welcoming home for individuals facing terminal illness. Established in 2008, Quiet Oaks provides compassionate care to those most in need in the final days of their life.

“Quality end-of-life care is what it’s all about at Quiet Oaks,” Kristin Darnall, director of development, said. “Our great team of nurses, staff, caregivers and volunteers are proud to provide incredible support for our residents and families during their time of need.”

In December 2005, Dan and Judy Whitlock were looking to donate their 10-acre property outside of St. Augusta to a worthy cause. At the same time, community members Joe and Mary Bauer, were working with a group of other families to create a hospice house in Central Minnesota where families could find comfort in end-of-life care for their loved ones.

The stars aligned and in 2006, the Whitlock’s gift officially became the home of Quiet Oaks. After a couple of years spent fundraising and constructing an addition to provide housing for residents, Quiet Oaks Hospice House officially opened in October 2008.

Today, 38 employees, 240 volunteers and several other community supporters continue to allow Quiet Oaks the ability to fulfill its mission to provide high quality, personalized care, comfort and dignity to residents and families in the remaining days of their life. A total of eight residents can receive care at a time and the home also has three complimentary guest suites for families who wish to be close to their loved ones in their final days.


“Quiet Oaks Hospice House offers much more than care and support,” Linda Allen, executive director said. “We are creating memories for families.”

Some of Allen’s favorite memories during her tenure with the organization include:

  • bringing in mini horses so a grandmother could share an experience with her visiting grandchildren;
  • ordering a new, portable bed for a bedbound resident so she could sit outside and enjoy the wind on her face one last time;
  • building a firepit outside so another resident could roast marshmallows with her family through the window of her room.

“It’s like we are fulfilling a bucket list,” she explained. “Our nurses are so good at crafting memories and making the experiences for each of our residents truly special.”


“Ever since the beginning of our organization, we have had a great base of community support and donors,” Darnall said. “We wouldn’t be able to make ends meet without all of the support we receive.”

Stearns Electric’s member-consumers who round up their monthly bill through the Operation Round Up® program have supported many endeavors of Quiet Oaks Hospice House over the years.

Funds have been used to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to nurses, doctors and caregivers at the home, and also used to help ease the burden of payments for residents who reside at the home.

Regarding the generous donations of Stearns Electric through its members, one of the nurses at Quiet Oaks said: “Providing funds to individuals who otherwise could not afford to come to Quiet Oaks is a priceless gift. Allowing someone to die with dignity without the financial burden is so important. Additionally, assisting with the purchase of PPE in order to provide the care that patients need while staying safe has been so helpful, especially these last several months during COVID.”

“Your pennies matter! When you choose kindness and choose to give, it makes a huge difference,” Darnall continued. “Your impact, though small, is so significant for our organization.”


“We realize that in our culture, people don’t want to have the conversation about death until they are forced to. At Quiet Oaks, we want to help individuals and families prepare before they need to,” Allen explained. “Through our efforts, we are trying to help families understand that death doesn’t have to be sad or scary. Instead, we hope that through our family and community support programs, we can show people that it is a natural part of life.”

At Quiet Oaks, support and care go beyond the conversations. Some of the services Quiet Oaks offer include:

  • a beauty parlor for residents to get their hair done or beard trimmed;
  • access to warming blankets for residents and guests whenever they need, day or night;
  • double hospital beds in every room so individuals who are visiting can lay down with their loved ones;
  • a special Veteran Program, where all veteran patients are treated with a special ceremony to commemorate and honor their time served;
  • meeting spaces, outdoor gardens, playsets and more for residents and families to enjoy while spending time together.

“Our nurses have been instrumental in helping us provide the resources to our residents to set us apart from other caregiving facilities,” Darnall explained.

“One of our caregivers, Dr. Patrick Lalley, is very passionate about this and has shared his skillset with nurses and staff. He and his wife even took sabbatical a few years back to travel the world and study differences and experiences with death across multiple countries to help normalize it for our residents and families,” she continued.


Quiet Oaks has plans to continue educating others about death and hospice care into the coming years.

A Capital Campaign fundraiser is in the works now, in which money raised through the campaign will partially be used to create a Center for End-of-Life Care, which will help educate the greater community about Quiet Oaks and the benefits of hospice care.

Additionally, the campaign will help create financial stability for the organization, allowing Quiet Oaks to build its savings, make capital improvements and pay off remaining debt.

“There are many ways to get involved with Quiet Oaks Hospice House, whether it’s through your time, talent or financial generosity,” Darnall explained. “We host volunteer orientation once per month for individuals and corporate sponsorships are also available.”

“The support we get from this community is phenomenal. There are no words to express how grateful we are,” she concluded.


Through the Operation Round Up® (ORU) program, Stearns Electric Association gives our member-owners the opportunity to give back to the community. The rounded-up funds (between 1¢ and 99¢ monthly) are placed in a trust fund that is administered by a trust board appointed by the Cooperative’s elected Board of Directors. Operation Round Up® funds are given to local civic organizations and worthy causes through an application and selection process. Applications are available at under the “Community” section.