• Employment Strategies
• Nutrition Basics
• Personal Finances
• Life & Empowerment Coaching
• Mental Health Support Groups

Gather and Grow Waconia Food Shelf Prosper Program graphic

Nutrition Basics

  • Each month will be a new informational class on various nutrition topics to help participants prepare healthier meal options.
Andrew Akhaphong is a registered dietitian nutritionist for Mackenthun’s Fine Foods standing at a table at Gather & Grow

Andrew Akhaphong

Andrew Akhaphong is a registered dietitian nutritionist for Mackenthun’s Fine Foods, a locally owned grocery store, and a strong supporter of our program and community. Akhaphong’s role is to educate our community with sound nutrition information to manage chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure and support overall well-being. Other services he provides include shopping assistance, product education, allergy navigation, and cooking education.

What makes being a registered dietitian nutritionist different from other nutrition professionals is Akhaphong is licensed by the state of Minnesota to practice Medical Nutrition Therapy. Medical Nutrition Therapy is a medical intervention that uses nutrition to dig deep into your personal and medical history, including medications and blood work to support your health.

Personal Finances - The Basics Class

  • Based on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, this class will cover budget topics to help participants have a strong starting point to begin using a budget and handle their finances better.
Darby Bitzan standing at a table in Gather & Grow

Darby Bitzan

Darby Bitzan grew up in central MN on a dairy farm. He currently works in Plymouth. He is married to Angi Bitzan; they have three children and have lived in the St. Bonifacius/Waconia/Watertown area for over 17 years. Several years ago, Darby and his family went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course and started teaching the curriculum shortly after. He is driven to help enrich the community by supporting those who want to take control of their (financial) lives.

Employment Strategies

  • Participants will access their values and career preferences
  • Create a quality resume
  • Prepare for interviews
  • Network with potential employers.
Rita Kaluzam, PHR and a Human Resources Partner standing at a table at Gather & Grow

Rita Kaluzam

Rita Kaluzam, PHR and a Human Resources Partner with over 15 years of experience. She currently works for DuPont as an HR Site Leader as well as acting as a consultant on US and Global projects for the company. She is especially passionate about Talent Development & career exploration, as well as training opportunities and Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the workplace. Rita has designed and facilitated career management & development courses throughout her career and is excited for the opportunity to bring these concepts to the Waconia Community.

Life & Empowerment Coaching

  • Participants will work one-on-one with a certified Life Coach for a period of up to nine months working through accessing their life and setting goals to improve in areas they identify.
Gretchen Lohmann, life coach standing at a table in Gather & Grow

Gretchen Lohmann

Gretchen Lohmann, five years ago, I hired a life coach and it literally changed the trajectory of my life. Before I began coaching, I didn’t feel like I knew what I enjoyed anymore; I didn’t feel like I was really connected to ‘me’ anymore. For so many years, I had a plan and a direction, but somehow, I allowed everything around me to influence what I did and how I felt, rather than being in control and in the driver’s seat. I had lost my sense of self.

The rediscovery of my ‘self’ through coaching impacted my family, my job, my kids, and me in wonderful ways. I am filled with joy as I think about the transformations possible for my clients through coaching and am honored to be a guide on their journey.

Mental Health Support Groups

  • Gather and Grow’s Prosper Program will host regularly scheduled support groups covering various topics. All are welcome to attend. It will be a safe place to be accepted and heard with a chance to create community.
Angie Cruzen Food Shelf Executive Director of Gather and Grow Waconia Food Shelf and and Mental Health Peer Support Specialist at Gather & Grow

Angie Cruzen

Angie recently earned her state certification as a Mental Health Peer Support Specialist. Peers draw upon their own personal lived experiences of suicide, mental illness and recovery to provide authentic engagement and support for people seeking mental health care. Her passion is to help others discover ways to individually work through personal mental health struggles in their own way. She looks forward to hosting a variety of mental health support groups on a range of topics for the amazing people in our community.

Scroll to Top