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Benefit to help victims of mold bloom

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Mark and Melody St. Marie had been living in their dream location of the country in rural Big Lake for nearly 25 years. 

It was 1995 when Mark and Melody purchased their 10-acre hobby farm in rural Big Lake. The young family raised farm animals and explored acres of land. Mark and Melody commuted to their jobs in the Twin Cities, which allowed the St. Maries to keep their dream alive.

The dream of living on a rural hobby farm took a hit in 2004 when Mark contracted Lyme disease. A year later, the disease had left Mark disabled. Then, in August 2019, the lives of Mark and Melody and their son Kenny, changed drastically. 

Their dream came crashing down. The home on their 10 acres, built in the late 1970s, was overtaken by a mold bloom.

A fundraiser for the St. Marie family will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 12 at McPete’s Sports Bar & Lanes, 590 Humboldt Dr, Big Lake. The fundraiser will be outdoors at McPete’s where social distancing will be achieved.

The St. Maries need help rebounding from the avalanche of misfortunes the family has faced after having to leave their home and most of their belongings behind due to a serious problem with mold. The family has had to relocate to an apartment and face the struggles of not only continuing to pay their monthly mortgage and utilities costs, but now monthly rent payments as well.

 “It was like it happened overnight,” Melody said. “There was mold on our cupboards, our walls and our furniture. Our doctor urged us to move out immediately and take nothing with us but our clothes, but we took several months to educate ourselves on the best course of action, and had three separate professional mold inspectors evaluate our home.”

The prognosis has not been good.

Mold has been found in every room on the main level and several rooms on the second level. At a minimum, extensive remediation is necessary. Rebuilding on the site may be the reality facing the St. Maries.

The damage to the home, the loss of belongings, and resulting health effects, has been a challenge, but there is an even larger challenge. The St. Maries’ home insurance policy specifically states that damage from mold is not covered.

That’s where the September 12 fundraiser comes in.

“We’re hoping to raise enough to refinance our home and mitigate the mold damage,” Melody St. Marie said. 

Suggested donation for the benefit is $10 per person which includes lunch catered by S&S Chicken Magic. RSVP to Scott at or text 651-235-1578.

Live music will be provided by Phil Halstead. Dozens of items will be up for bid in the silent auction. In addition, dozens of donated jewelry items and accessories will be for sale on a first-come, first-served basis. People can shop without participating in the meal if they choose.

The St. Maries have already experienced an outpouring of support from Big Lake and its surrounding communities in the form of generous donations to the silent auction. “It’s been very heartwarming,” Melody said. “There is something for everyone.”

People who can’t attend the September 12 benefit but want to help the St. Marie family can do so on the family’s GoFundMe page at

Reach Jeff Hage at


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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