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Grad gifts courtesy of Aveda founder

"When Lois Mineau first tried to interest Aveda Corp. last summer in working with the Hennepin County Home School on a vocational program, she didn't get much of a response. Undaunted, she tried another channel.

"I DO NOT WANT YOUR MONEY," she wrote Horst Rechelbacher, Aveda's founder and former CEO. "I am, however, asking for your wisdom and your insight on how to approach the cosmetology academic community in the Twin Cities."

Mineau was just doing her job. As a coordinator with the Home School and the county's Juvenile Detention Center, she recruits volunteer services from the community. She expected an e-mail reply at best.

Five days later, her office phone rang. It was Rechelbacher's assistant, asking if she was free to talk to him that day.

He told her that he wasn't familiar with the school, that he wanted to see the Minnetonka campus. When he found out it offers residential treatment and a high school education to offenders under age 21, he grew even more interested, she said.

Last August he visited for three hours and spoke to a school assembly. "He told me he wanted an ongoing relationship," Mineau said.

In November he told her he was contributing $50,000 to the school's scholarship fund. The school made plans to use $6,000 of it for scholarships this year.

Give it all away, Rechelbacher told Mineau two weeks ago. He said he planned to give the school $50,000 every year.

"I couldn't talk," Mineau said. "A volunteer coordinator who can't talk is a real problem."

On Friday Rechelbacher addressed the Home School's class of 2011 and awarded $5,300 scholarships to each of 10 graduates headed for post-secondary education. Most of it came from him.

"This is the first time someone has stepped up ... in making a connection to the Home School and making this kind of commitment," Superintendent Fred Bryan said.

And it was all because Lois Mineau was just doing her job."

This article was published first on startribune.com.