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Boreal Community Media

Meet your Cook County business owner: Ash Kwasniewicz

May 19, 2023 06:04AM ● By Editor
Submitted photo - Ash Kwasniewicz.

A Boreal Community Media exclusive - May 19, 2023

How did you "land" in Cook County?
Right out of High School, I started working at a day program for people with special needs while also going to college at night. After saving up some money I decided that since I was young there was no better time for adventure so I spent my early twenties doing a considerable amount of traveling while seeking out seasonal jobs in various beautiful places. After spending a few seasons caregiving for an elderly couple in Hawaii and working at various resorts in Alaska I set my sights on the Gunflint Trail. I was captivated by the abundance of fresh water, the vast wilderness, and the plethora of work to be had.

Without a job or housing secured, I embarked on a road trip with the hopes of landing a position for myself amongst the majestic waters of the Northwoods. Shortly after arriving, I got my start on the Gunflint Trail at what was then known as Cross River Lodge. After a few seasons enjoying the Boundary Waters as a resort employee, I decided it was time to further my skills and once again pursue my passion for helping others. It was then that I decided that I would take advantage of a program offered through North Shore Health and spent a winter getting certified as a Nurse’s aide. I then shifted my professional focus to once again working with the elderly and people with special needs as an In-Home Support Provider through the Cook County Office of Health and Human Services. 

Living and working on the Gunflint Trail presents both blessings and challenges. What are some of each for you?
I would say that isolation is probably both the biggest blessing and the greatest challenge related to living in a place such as the Gunflint Trail. The stark remoteness of this area is what makes the wilderness what it is and there is a dangerous beauty in wild places that I am drawn to. I guess living in an area this remote allows me to constantly test myself and my abilities which I see as immensely rewarding, however getting gas or groceries can be a chore at times. 

With your busy schedule, how do you enjoy days off? Is there a favorite spot in the County that is dear to your heart?
I always make sure to carve out at least one or two days a week for myself usually spent focusing on self-care. I love reading, doing yoga, and cooking. It’s important to take rest and recuperation very seriously as I find it vital for my well-being. I learned in my very first job out of high school while working with folks with special needs that it is impossible to help or take care of others unless you are also able to take care of yourself. I also enjoy going to the YMCA by myself or with clients and I'm particularly fond of the aquatic area. It always feels like a special treat when I wake up a little early and head down the trail before work to get a jacuzzi & sauna session in.

Many love life in Cook County for the sense of community that they feel here. For anyone considering moving to start a life here, what words of wisdom would you share with them?
This place is full of opportunity. You can be anything you want here, dream big and don’t settle. Also take it in and slow it down. Savor every day and consider yourself blessed to be able to call this place your home. 

What is your favorite season in Cook County? What are your thoughts on the long, long winter this year?
I love late summer into early fall. The change in the sunlight's hue from the hot yellow in summer to the cooler oranges of fall makes things glow a deeper shade of gold. The air feels like it thins to a crisp and is refreshingly cool to inhale. I’m originally from Arizona so I relish the slightly brisker temps of fall. That being said I think I may have had a brief bout of SAD this winter season for the first time, but as soon as that sun started to shine again I perked right back up. I think a lot of people experienced something similar with the seemingly endless cold and snow up the Trail. 

You recently announced the launch of your business, Sage Care. Can you share what this is all about and how someone interested in your services can contact you? 
Sage Care is a business I started in order to provide in-home support to a wide variety of people with a special focus on those with special needs, the elderly, or anyone else that might want assistance in completing everyday tasks.

First, a prospective client and I sit down to formulate a care plan tailored to their specific situation and needs. Then we can schedule times for me to come to the client's home and assist them with a wide variety of tasks that they may have trouble accomplishing themselves. These range from self-care to housekeeping to general chores to various outings in the community. I also provide child care by the hour with a focus on children with special needs but I am very happy to take on any clients.

Beyond the services I provide I really want people to know how passionate about this type of work I am. Starting a business like this is something that I have been thinking about for many years now and Sage Care is the culmination of my lifetime interest in helping others live a more comfortable and satisfying life.

Ultimately, I want to help make people’s lives better.

You can reach me by phone at (218) 264-9766 or by e-mail at [email protected].  I also have a website where you can learn more about me and the services I provide, www.sagecaremn.com