Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

New song identifies ongoing need

'One Common Hope' sparked after 2012 flood


The community pulls together during the 2012 flood.

Helping people after the flood of 2012 has sparked a new song, “One Common Hope.” And, one year later, that song brings awareness to people that there is still a need for help.

After the devastating flood, people flocked to the affected areas to help friends and the people in the communities. Two of those people were Rory Butkiewicz and Mary Rose Varo.

“I, like so many other people, was stranded for a few days,” said Mary Rose in a telephone interview. “I was feeling bad for everyone.

“After a few days I was able to get out and went to help. I worked in homes in Moose Lake and Barnum. People were coming from all over.

“It all was very meaningful, and very sad for the people who were affected.”

Mary Rose found a message on her answering machine when she returned home from her friend, Rory. He suggested that she write a song about people helping people.

Mary Rose has written several songs: “Unsung Hero” commemorated the lives of the fallen heroes, “This Old Farm” commemorated the Butkiewicz Century Farm, “Light Up the World” was written for the luminary ceremony for Relay for Life, “Walk with Me Tenderly” was written for cancer survivors, and “Walk On” was written for the caregivers of cancer survivors.

Rory has recorded the songs at his This Old Farm Studio.

The message on the answering machine planted a seed in Mary Rose’s mind.

“I was still immersed in the experience of helping people after the flood,” she related. “I said that I’d pray about it. I went out to mow the lawn.

“Within minutes, I saw the word ‘common,' and it became one common faith, one common hope, one common love, one common trust. The words had started to come.

“I mowed a third of the lawn, and then I had to go in and write down the words. Within a week of the flood, I had one verse and a chorus written.”

Mary Rose is well known for accompanying herself on the guitar as she sings her songs at public appearances but this song took her in a new direction.

“I wrote this for the piano, I couldn’t do it on the guitar,” she said.

Mary Rose started to write the second verse, and then Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.

“Our tragedy felt small compared to that,” she said. “But I liked the commonness of everyone sharing.”

Meanwhile, the words kept coming, and Mary Rose was able to write a third verse.

Another dimension was added that she wasn’t prepared for.

“When I finished it, I said that it sounds like it needs a choir,” she remembered. “But I’m not a choir director. I contacted the churches and said that a choir was being formed. And the people came.

“Every Sunday night, we practiced (at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Moose Lake). Some couldn’t come one night but others came. There were always 14 people. I was moved every week. They were sharing their gift. They came in and put it out there. They were all singing together, ‘One Common Hope.'”

As “One Common Hope” developed throughout the year, it came time to record the song. Mary Rose and Rory enlisted the help of Bill Taylor.

“He could understand just what I wanted,” said Mary Rose. “I would explain what I wanted in a certain part, and he could bring up that sound.”

Mary Rose applied to the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council for a grant to cover Bill’s services and other expenses.

The grant was approved, and many hours were spent to record the song.

Mary Rose’s niece, Maggie Unzen, sang the bridge that Mary Rose wrote in the song. Rory’s video recording of the crew from the Challenge Incarceration Program, who marched in the Fourth of July parade and sang a cadence that they had written, is included.

Through their experience in helping people right after the flood and since, a long-term need has become obvious. The song brings awareness to the need still out there for flood victims, one year later.

“The ultimate goal was to raise money for flood relief,” said Mary Rose. “We are going to use this song to make an appeal.”

“One Common Hope” can be downloaded from Mary Rose’s website,, for $1. People can give by increasing the amount for the song. All donations will be handled through the United Way for Flood Homes with Hope.

Bob Hunt contributed his talents to set up the website.

Donations are still a way for people to come together to help others in the community and area.

“The need hasn’t stopped,” said Mary Rose. “It will never be too late to help.”

Mary Rose also used her many contacts to gather photos for the video about the flood to accompany the song on the video. She contacted friends on Facebook, the AFSME Council, the Duluth News Tribune, and the Aitkin Independent Age, and was sent photos from throughout the region, as well as the local area.

“Everyone is listed in the credits on the video,” said Mary Rose. “I’m so grateful for all of those photos.”

As she looks back on the past year, Mary Rose sees the journey that the flood brought about.

“It’s been quite an evolution,” she said. “I’m excited to give my gifts to help raise awareness.”

The eight-minute video has been shown at the Lake Theater and at the Moose Lake Area Music Festival Street Dance, Rebuilding Hope. Watch for future showings. The video can be seen on YouTube, “One Common Hope.”

For a CD of “One Common Hope,” contact Mary Rose Varo at (218) 644-0920, or visit to download the song and donate or to donate.


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