On Thursday, April 26, more than 200 people gathered in the Great Hall for a Community Dinner. In attendance were school administrators, counselors, city officials, grandparents, grandchildren, social workers, single parents, business people, families in crisis, community volunteers and neighbors. The mood was energetic as guests dined on chicken, potatoes and quinoa salad. Conversation swirled around health, the weather, and current events.
SEEING THE NEED: EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS TALK ABOUT GROWTH OF THE CRC
Special guests for the evening included the executive directors of the Community Resource Center for the past seven years.
Together, they shared the story of starting with a closet of basic supplies and food for those who struggled with homelessness and were looking for help. Certain there must be more resources for people in need, former Executive Director Kellie Cardinal shared “I didn’t always know how we could help, but we were determined to help people figure things out.” “And that’s how we started, by listening to the needs in the community, providing assistance with shelter, basic supplies and case management.”
Liz Schreier talked about the difference the Community Resource Center brings with hospitality in mind. “We saw families needing childcare while they were in with a case worker, so we made that happen” Schreier said. “We saw children wanting to pick out their own coat and people in need of clothes for an interview, so we opened the Clothesline, a 100% volunteer run clothing distribution center.” Schreier talked about hospitality and the people served by the Community Resource Center. She shared two voicemails from guests during her tenure- one who was provided temporary housing in a hotel for a few weeks as she worked with case workers to determine her next steps and another from a woman who received a tent and assistance to camp while figuring out what was next. “With no room in the shelter at the time, it was all we could do.”
Listen to guest messages by clicking on a photo below.
TREMENDOUS GROWTH. TREMENDOUS NEED.
Current Executive Director, Jenny Mason, shared statistics from the past seven years, including that the CRC has helped more than 3400 families since its inception. In 2017, the CRC saw a 16% increase in the number of families served and served 5687 dinners through the weekly meal program. “It’s tremendous what’s happening here” said Mason, who started her role as Executive Director 7 months ago. “But, we know we can be even better with all of you” she added. “As of today, there are 898 kids who are homeless in our community- that’s up 3 from when we printed our placemats on Monday!” said Mason. “I think together we can do even more, with our new shelter opening in Hugo, the partnerships in this room, and the support of this congregation.”
ST. ANDREW’S COMMITS TO EXPANDING COMMUNITY RESOURCES
Pastor Mike Carlson spoke of St. Andrew’s capital campaign plans to expand the Community Resource Center services in the Great Hall to help families “get back on their feet.” He shared the story of a family of kids he picked up from various schools the afternoon their parents learned their home was being taken from them. As he sat in the van with the kids and their mom, she shared they wouldn’t be going home. When they asked where they were going she said “the church” and the kids cheered. “To these kids,” Pastor Carlson said, “the church is their happy place. It’s the gym, and a place of welcome. To the parents, it’s a sense of safety, a place to go, while they figured out with case workers what’s next.”
“We are committed to be community together, for the long run,” said Pastor Carlson. “As we look at the gaps about what’s needed in our community – not just to help lives, but to save lives- we see the need for mental health counseling and services for all people.” “We have made a definitive decision to alter our programming, our buildings, our day to day life so we can deepen our impact and hope in this community- and that’s exactly what our Hope Lives Capital Campaign is about- building hope, transforming lives.”