Walking Along Beside

I often forget how little culture can mean when it comes to relationships.  Even if we come from two different continents, upbringings, languages, our ways of connecting can be so similar.  We can understand one another so easily if we only seek to do such. And we only find how similar we truly are if we engage in experiences with one another.  I forget in a place like America, where hip hop was born and women’s empowerment is strong, our ideals and influences are from the very continent these women of Sarah’s come from.  Here in America, African traditions have been explored, borrowed, assimilated, and appropriated. I believe our world is much closer than we think. And I believe we are all much closer to being friends than we believe.  It’s only a matter of loosening your fists, glancing over, and listening.  Letting your eyes be opened and assumptions dropped.  We can celebrate each other; we can celebrate the world. Read on….

Summer Notes from Sarah’s…

2018 Madonna Della Strada and Robert Hobbins Community Service Award Winners Announced

On Friday night, May 11th, 2018, The Ignatian Volunteer (IVC) Community gathered to celebrate the work that all of the IVC volunteers do to support all of our service partner organizations including Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women. This special evening recognized the distinguished service of Mary Himrod, a long time IVC volunteer at Sarah’s with our Madonna Della Strada Community Service Award. Sarah’s was recognized as well with the Robert Hobbins Community Service Award. Congratulations all!


Thank you to everyone who attended and supported Sarah’s “Welcome Home” Breakfast Buffet and Benefit.

A special thank you to all those who volunteered their time and talent with set-up, décor and clean-up. Sarah’s also extends our deepest gratitude to Kate Meyer, CSJ Consociate, who created our beautiful table and stage décor, and to Michael Ziomko, a friend of Sarah’s, who created special clay bowls for each guest. Sarah’s accomplished our financial goal by raising approximately $33,000! Again, thank you for your generosity!

SAVE THE DATE: Sarah’s “Welcome Home” Breakfast Buffet and Benefit
Wednesday, June 12 2019 8:00am-9:30am
Anderson Center, Hamline University

Former resident, Sheilla Matanhire shared:
“Truly speaking, Sarah’s was there for me in everything that I needed, a home, food, and resources. Everything was provided for me, and I had privacy in my own bedroom. Everyone at Sarah’s speaks one language—the language of love, peace and unity.”


Your support is needed now more than ever! Sarah’s encourages you to attend our Breakfast Buffet and Benefit on June 20th to hear more about the impact of Sarah’s in our community and our world.

Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women cordially invites you to attend our 2nd Annual “Welcome Home” Breakfast Buffet and Benefit on Wednesday, June 20th from 8:00AM -9:30AM at the beautiful Anderson Center on the campus of Hamline University. While enjoying a delicious breakfast buffet, you will hear the latest news on the impact of Sarah’s in our community and in our world. Brief remarks will be given by Cheryl Behrent, Sarah’s Director, Cathy Steffens, Sarah’s Leadership Liaison, Sheilla Matenhire, former resident, and Margaret McGraith, member of Sarah’s Advisory Council. CSJ Consociate, Lisa Moriarty, will return as our emcee. If you have not received an invitation via email, please contact Martha West at 651-696-8672 or communityrelations@sarahsoasis.org. The event is free and open to the public. An RSVP is requested for planning purposes. We look forward to seeing all of you there. Sarah’s will always be your home!


The Impact of Sarah’s

Sarah’s holds a unique place as a one-of-a-kind transitional home in Minnesota serving primarily immigrant women who are struggling to become established in our community. Housing women who face similar challenges allows Sarah’s to tailor its community-based service model toward the needs of residents. The women of Sarah’s gain strength and resilience living in a community of women who are going through comparable experiences.  

Since 1996, Sarah’s has served over 650 women from 70 nations. Sarah’s stands as a testament to the impact of the CSJ mission: always moving toward profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction.  During the last year, Sarah’s served 43 unique women. Of those 43, 13 moved on to permanent housing, 18 secured employment (full or part-time), 22 furthered their education (high school, ELL, college) and 4 gained work authorization, asylum, permanent residency or began the U.S. citizenship process. All 43 unique women experienced healing, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.

Your support is needed now more than ever! Sarah’s encourages you to attend our Breakfast Buffet and Benefit on June 20th to hear more about the impact of Sarah’s in our community and our world.

~Martha West, Community Relations Associate


Neighborhood Connections  2018

Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women has been part of the fabric of the Highland Park neighborhood for more than two decades. In the spirit of deepening our relationship with those who live in our neighborhood, a few members of Sarah’s staff met with a few neighbors, and in the warmth of a neighbor’s kitchen, Neighborhood Connections was born. Sarah’s goal in Neighborhood Connection is to see how we can serve our “dear neighbors.” Many at the meeting were thinking only of ways they could serve us so it came as a surprise when they realized our aim was to serve them. One neighbor remarked, “All your ideas are about what you can do for us!” It was a great opportunity to share our CSJ mission:  “Moving always toward the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction.”

Since that time, a couple of neighbors joined us for a community meal and participated in our house meeting long enough to invite the women of Sarah’s to join in the annual neighborhood Christmas caroling event. Several of Sarah’s residents expressed interested and suggested adding dancing to the singing!  Another neighbor has stopped by to tune Sarah’s piano located in the dining room, and a couple of neighborhood youth will attend our residents’ December 20th holiday party to play songs and lead singing. Future ideas included neighborhood attendance at our January career networking event, and Sarah’s as the possible host site for our 2018 neighborhood national night out.

We invited our neighbors to enjoy our yard in the warmer months including our two labyrinths, and in colder months, to use our chapel for quiet contemplation and prayer. We are excited about our new Neighborhood Connections, and the opportunity to enter into the lives of our neighbors in a more intentional way.

written by Martha West, Community Relations Associate


December 2017

The 15th Annual St. Catherine University Charity Ball will be held this year on Friday, December 8th from 7:00PM-9:30PM in the Rauenhorst Ballroom, located in the Coeur de Catherine. The Ball began fifteen years ago as a way engage St Kate’s students in a multi-faceted holiday experience. It originated as a festival of trees, and evolved into the celebratory event that we know today. The Charity Ball gives St. Kate’s students a chance to dress up, engaging in the excitement of the holiday season, while at the same time, giving them the opportunity to expand their perspective during this season of giving.

The Charity Ball has been a benefit event for Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women for fourteen of the past fifteen years. Supporters and allies of Sarah’s are excited to continue in close relationship as the beneficiary of such a wonderful event. Creating an on-campus event, hosted by St. Kate’s students, and supported by the wider community of Sarah’s is what one would expect from organizations living out their charism of loving the dear neighbor without distinction.

written by Martha West, Community Relations Associate


Sarah’s 2017 Report to the Community


Welcome Home!

The current residents of Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women hosted their annual reunion on Saturday, July 29th, 2017. In attendance were many of Sarah’s current and former residents, staff, and volunteers as well as friends and family. One of the highlights of our reunion was celebrating Cheryl Behrent’s 10-year work anniversary. A special card was made for Cheryl and signed by everyone. She also received a small ceramic house symbolizing Sarah’s “welcome home” spirit.  Cheryl painted the house with Sarah’s signature purple and green colors, and then everyone signed it. As always, volunteers, staff, and residents worked to make the house beautiful and welcoming with floral arrangements from the yard, international dishes, and a cake that said ‘Welcome Home.’

Everyone at Sarah’s is excited about entering our 22nd year of ministry. Our current staff is Cheryl Behrent, Director, Faith Clark, House Manager, and Martha West, Community Relations Associate. Sarah’s is thrilled to welcome MacKenzie O’Kane as our St. Joseph Worker for 2017-2018. We are also excited to have Sarah Brenes from The Advocates for Human Rights as our new Advisory Council Chair. Sarah’s is blessed to have such a wealth of talent on our staff and council!

written by Martha West, Community Relations Associate


Sarah’s Director, Cheryl Behrent, celebrates a decade of ministry!

Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women congratulates Cheryl Behrent as she celebrates her 10 year work anniversary as a staff member. In July of 2007, she joined Sarah’s as the Associate Director working with Maggie Kvasnicka, CSJ, who was Sarah’s Director at that time. Cheryl shares her reflection on joining the staff at Sarah’s and on her last 10 years:

The work of Sarah’s has grown and matured in the last 10 years. Since 2010, when I became Director, Sarah’s has engaged countless compassionate volunteers who have shared their lives and valuable time and energy with us. CSJ Sisters and Consociates have deepened their relationship with Sarah’s, and we’ve been fortunate to have Sisters from other communities be part of the

Cheryl Behrent, 2013 recipient of the Virginia McKnight Binger Award for Human Service presented by McKnight Foundation
photograph by Mark Luienenburg

fabric of life here as well. Sarah’s Advisory Council has grown and diversified over the years to include service provider representatives, and former residents. The staff at Sarah’s has evolved over the years, and we are blessed to have a wonderful staff assisted by committed volunteers who love Sarah’s and uphold Sarah’s mission as well as the mission of the CSJ community.

I am excited to dream about all the wonderful future possibilities as we enter Sarah’s third decade. I remain deeply commitment to Sarah’s and to the women who come here to work, live and be part of our community. I am honored to accompany survivors of injustice, war, torture and discrimination as they become “thrivers” through Sarah’s ministry. No matter the challenges, we can do anything we put our minds to do. Moreover, our community-based program model connects us with others who are working hard just like us to support the women of Sarah’s.  I invite you to deepen your relationship with Sarah’s by visiting our home for a tour or for a Wednesday evening meal. I also hope you will plan to be part of our two annual events: Sarah’s June 2018 “Welcome Home” breakfast benefit, and the St. Kate’s Charity Ball to be held in December 2017. Volunteering at Sarah’s offers many possibilities for engagement as well.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done in the last 10 years and the difference Sarah’s makes in the lives of the women who have called Sarah’s home. I give thanks for the last ten years of ministry and the many women who have been welcomed home here–finding hope, peace, safety, love, and beauty. I pray always for Sarah’s women and I thank God for they ways they have touched my life and how amazing and wonderful it is to be part of Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women.