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A Heartfelt Gathering: Navigating Community Support Amidst Loss

by Katrina Pettis, Grand Forks, Grand Forks Children's Museum

Members of the board of the Grand Forks Children’s Museum frequently visit the surrounding communities to provide updates on the museum’s progress. On Sunday, November 5th, the team traveled to Mayville to host a scheduled event at the Mayville Golf Club. This was an opportunity to share updates, discuss the positive impact and commitment to the surrounding communities, and gather community support for a fundraiser benefiting the museum.

Little did we realize that this day would unfold into a mixture of excitement, sadness, reflection, and the realization of the profound interconnectedness within our communities.

The Mayville Golf Club provided a perfect and picturesque backdrop for our event. The anticipation was palpable as we geared up to share our growth and achievements over the past year. However, life has a way of introducing unexpected challenges. This community was grappling with the sudden loss of Katie Richards, a woman deeply embedded in the hearts of many as an influential UND basketball alumnus, community leader, friend and neighbor and a dedicated mother to four children. The news reverberated through our town, prompting a collective pause as we came to terms with the void left by Katie’s untimely departure.

The impact of Katie's loss was keenly felt, rightfully shrouding any excitement for the museum messaging, and prompting a shift in the dynamics of our event.

While we had anticipated a large turnout, only a few dozen attendees attended. Naturally understand that in times of tragedy, we must often prioritize our own and our families' healing. It was a poignant reminder that our community, though resilient, is bound by threads of shared grief, sorrow, and empathy. With our realigned expectations, Kim Woods, Director of Fundraising, took the stage. In a moving address, she acknowledged the heaviness in the room and paid a heartfelt tribute to Katie. Kim's words resonated with each attendee, offering a sense of solace, comfort, and unity in the face of tragedy.

As an organization dedicated to serving our community, we recognize the need to adapt and prioritize the well-being of our friends and neighbors. The Grand Forks Children's Museum is not just a building; it's an entity intricately connected to the lives and experiences of those we seek to serve: friends, neighbors, and our communities.

Our Sunday gathering, initially planned as a celebration of progress and community growth, became a testament to the strength and resilience embedded in the fabric of this town. As we navigate the path forward, we share a renewed commitment to supporting one another through triumphs, tragedies, and tribulations.

Together, we stand with Mayville, united in the shared tapestry of our community.


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