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About J. Shane Mercer

I am the digital marketing specialist at The Village Family Service Center. Keep up with Village news and events at https://www.facebook.com/thevillagefamily and on Twitter at @VillageFamily

Photos, video from FM Wine & Dine 2014

If you missed FM Wine & Dine 2014 Friday (or if you just want to relive it), here are some photos and video from the event. Thanks to everyone who attended, volunteered, etc.!

The event benefits Nokomis Child Care Centers and Big Brothers Big Sisters FM, both of which are programs of The Village.




Looking for some deals online? Try these websites and apps

Editor’s note: This post is from The Village Financial Resource Center’s “Real Money” blog.

Think back to a time when having an extra $1,000 would have made a major difference in the circumstance you were facing. How would the situation have played out differently if you had $1,000 to draw upon? Could you have avoided using a credit card and paying interest, taking out a payday loan, or having to borrow from family or friends? Whatever the situation, when you need to borrow money for unplanned expenses, it usually costs you in more ways than one.

The standard recommendation is to have a liquid savings account containing three to six months of your monthly expenses. Determine this amount by tracking what you spend. Don’t forget about your periodic expenses-the expenses that occur throughout the year, but not necessarily on a monthly basis. Periodic expenses include auto/home maintenance, gift buying, traveling, propane, medical deductibles, etc.

Three to six months of expenses in savings can feel like a very lofty goal for most families. However, having this amount in savings will protect your household from a tailspin if faced with periods of unexpected unemployment, seasonal income shortages, medical expenses, and major repairs.

Adequate savings provides you with a stable financial foundation. Just as a house is only as stable as the foundation it is built on, so are your finances.

Electronic Couponing and Deals
You can save money using the Internet through a variety of websites and mobile apps. Here are some of our favorites.

Websites (All of the websites listed here are also available as apps.)

  • Freebies2deals.com – Created by a mom from Utah with established connections to the best freebies and deals each day. She gives great advice and also matches up store coupons with manufacturers for you. This is a great time-saver for people who want to get the deals of a crazy couponer without spending the time.
  • Zulily.com – Deals on clothing for babies and kids and other stuff.
  • 1saleaday.com – Various products on sale
  • Woot.com – Daily deals
  • Retailmenot.com – Coupon codes and deals
  • eBates.com – Just about every online retailer is on this site. Once you have an account, you can search by product or retailer, find discount codes, and receive cash back on all your purchases. You get a free $10 gift card to the place of your choice just for signing up!

Mobile Apps

  • GeoQpon – Coupons you can scan at the register
  • Shopkick – Find coupons and earn points toward gift cards
  • Smartphonemate – Earn credit at Amazon.com just by having the app open on your phone ($3/month) or tablet ($5/month)
  • Gasbuddy – Lists all gas stations in the area, along with prices. You can update the prices as well and earn entries for a free gift card


RDO Caters Taters: How many potatoes does it take? Find out in this video

The Village is so happy that RDO has chosen Big Brothers Big Sisters as the benefiting charity for this year’s RDO Caters Taters event on Nov. 6. In the video below, you can get all kinds of information about the event, including an answer to that all-important question: “How many potatoes does it take?”

Children impacted by domestic violence to undergo play assessments

On October 6, Anna Marie’s Alliance will begin a partnership with The Village Family Service Center to assist with the child component of their domestic abuse safety planning. Safety planning will be held at The Village’s St. Cloud office, and Village staff will participate by assessing the impact of domestic violence on children through the use of play assessments.

A play assessment will consist of therapists spending time with the child/ren in free play while looking for themes of the play that might relate to any concerning events and issues in the child’s life. Anna Marie’s staff will also be meeting with the children and teaching safety planning as well as assessing their current hopes, fears, and dreams.

Following the assessment, Village and Anna Marie’s staff will share their findings with the mother, and discuss options for future services, if necessary.

Safety planning is held for women who have an active Order of Protection or Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO) and are hoping to have it modified by the judge.  It consists of learning about relationship dynamics where domestic violence has been present, and aspects of power and control, as well as learning about and making a solid safety plan for the future.  It is held in a small group format while the children are meeting with therapist and advocates.

The Village was chosen to participate because of its expertise in dealing with children and trauma. All of The Village’s St. Cloud staff is trained in evidence-based interventions for children and adults who have been impacted by a traumatic event.

Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence can be very traumatic to children and impact them throughout the rest of their lives. Counselors at The Village give children and adults the opportunity to process and work through the trauma. The collaboration with Anna Marie’s will provide a more seamless entry into mental health services for women and children victims of domestic violence that need additional support.

For more information about the partnership or the impact of domestic violence on children, contact Amber Morrighan at The Village Family Service Center, 320-253-5930 or Patty Hackett at Anna Maries Alliance, 320-253-6900.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to kick off ID theft awareness campaign in Fargo

FARGO – Identity theft is a serious crime with a rising number of victims. To help people safeguard their personal information, The Village Financial Resource Center and Record Keepers, LLC, are sponsoring an identity theft awareness campaign.

Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota Attorney General, will kick off the week with a press conference 10 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 7 at The Village Family Service Center, 1201 25th St. S., Fargo. Stenehjem will talk about the impact of identity theft on North Dakotans and an identity theft expert from The Village will be on hand to share ways consumers can safeguard their financial information.

Then, The Village and Recordkeepers will offer free shredding and hard drive recycling

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem

in both Bismarck and Fargo.

There will be free shredding and hard drive recycling events in Bismarck and Fargo:

  • In Bismarck, free shredding and hard drive recycling will be 10- a.m. – 4 p.m. Oct. 7 in the parking lot of Record Keepers, 2624 Vermont Ave.
  • In Fargo, free shredding and hard drive recycling will be Oct. 8 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and Oct. 9 (8 a.m. – 1 p.m.) in the parking lot of The Village Family Service Center, 1201 25th St. S., Fargo.

Bring your outdated financial records, including bank statements, old checks, credit card statements and offers, and other items that contain personal and financial information for free shredding donated by Record Keepers, LLC. Material is limited to four banker boxes or shopping bags, and two hard drives (removed from the CPU). Food pantry donations are welcome.

For more information, contact Joshua Huffman at The Village Financial Resource Center, 701-451-5003.

The Village Financial Resource Center is a nonprofit community service organization that provides confidential financial guidance, counseling, money management education, and debt management assistance to consumers. More info at helpwithmoney.org.

Still looking for volunteers for one-day Big Brothers Big Sisters event

The BIG Blast is 3-9 p.m. Thursday (time is flexible), and we would love to have your help as we try to get 500-1,000 flyers up in the Fargo-Moorhead area. The aim is to get the word out about mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you can hang up a flyer, you can help Big Brothers Big Sisters!

For more info about volunteering for The BIG Blast, check out this post.

For more info about the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program, check out our website.


Volunteers needed: ‘Big BLAST’ aims to distribute up to 1,000 flyers for FM Big Brothers Big Sisters

Local Big Brothers Big Sisters organizers hope to distribute 500-1,000 flyers across Fargo-Moorhead during The BIG Blast, 3-9 p.m., Oct. 2, and they’re looking for volunteers to help with the effort.

Organizers hope to have 50 to 100 volunteers for the event. The aim is to encourage people in the community to become mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The BIG Blast kicks off at the Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave. S. in Fargo. From there, volunteers will fan out to various parts of the city to hang up and/or hand out posters.

Door prizes include a flatscreen TV, Fargo Force Tickets, various gift certificates and more. For more info on The BIG Blast, visit bbbsfargo.org.

To volunteer, email smercer@thevillagefamily.org or call (701) 451-4938. Hashtag for the event is #bigblast.


Big Brothers Big Sisters is a program that facilitates mentoring relationships between youth and adults. BBBS in Fargo-Moorhead is a program of The Village Family Service Center. More info at bbbsfargo.org

Free document shredding offered at The Village Oct. 8 and 9

Identity Theft Awareness Shred Days are set for Oct. 7 in Bismarck and Oct. 8 and 9 in Fargo.

Bring your outdated financial records including bank statements, old checks, credit card statements and offers, and other items that contain personal and financial information for free shredding donated by Record Keepers, LLC. You can also have old hard drives destroyed, and an identity theft expert will be on hand. Coffee, juice, and cookies will be served.

The Bismarck event is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Oct. 7 in the parking lot of Record Keepers, 2624 Vermont Ave. in Bismarck.

The Fargo events are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 8 and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Oct. 9 in the parking lot of The Village Family Service Center, 1201 25th St. S., in Fargo.

Material is limited to four banker boxes or shopping bags, and two hard drives (removed from the CPU). We will also be accepting food pantry donations. For more information, contact The Village Family Service Center at (701) 235-3328 or (800) 450-4019.