Grants in Action
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
Following are some examples of the impact our grants can have on individuals in the communities which we serve.
Local Non-Profits Team Up to Fight Child Hunger
By Jeff Benson, D.D.S.
I recently spoke with Mary Stewart, Executive Director of Community Partners with Youth (CPY) about their collaboration with the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf and the Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition to reduce food insecurity in our community. CPY is one of the State’s most respected providers of ‘out-of-school-hours supervision’. Each year they provide care and meals for more than 500 children as well as thousands of hours of programming for youth and their families. COVID-19 guidelines abruptly halted the face-to-face student contact that was at the core of CPY’s mission.
CPY wanted to continue supporting kids and their families, especially during the summer months when they normally provide a full day of meals and activities for more than 200 youths. 85% of these participants qualify for ‘free or reduced lunch’. CPY meals support the nutritional health of these kids. A call to Lisa Baker at the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf revealed that food was available, but no means to deliver it to CPY families. CPY had the means to deliver the food, but no funds to make the deliveries. A search revealed that the newly formed Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition might be a source for the needed funds.
The Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition is a collaboration among local representatives of the major international service club organizations (Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, and Optimists) and local Community Foundations. It was created to address the needs of local folks resulting from the pandemic. It serves the communities within Independent School Districts 621 and 623, Arden Hills, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Little Canada, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, and Shoreview. Because food insecurity is one of their primary missions, CPY and Ralph Reeder submitted individual grant requests totaling $15,000 to the Coalition to fund the food, staffing, and fuel for summer food distribution. These grants were approved and the food delivery partnership was born.
The majority of CPY kids live within five manufactured housing parks and sixteen apartment complexes in the area. CPY developed distribution points to reach its families and connect with those not previously aware of the CPY programs. They delivered 145 big boxes of food each week to neediest families in their communities, providing healthy nutrition for over 350 area children. Each food box also included an activity kit with cooking, art, S.T.E.M., and family projects with video content to keep kids engaged during the summer.
While combatting child hunger is the most obvious benefit of the CPY/Ralph Reeder food delivery program, these deliveries also provided CPY with the opportunity to help underserved families navigate the maze of available support resources. Ralph Reeder has noted increased demand resulting from the CPY delivery program. All of these positive interactions increase trust, especially for families whose English skills are limited. Activity kits help kids by keeping them involved in positive learning activities.
Mary had heartwarming stories of contact with families resulting from the food deliveries. She said how wonderful it was to see kids waiting in the window for CPY and sharing their excitement in the deliveries of food and activity kits each week. She told of the gratitude of a family living in a rented U-Haul trailer after their roof collapsed. She told of a neighbor of a CPY family, so inspired by these food deliveries, that she has made several trips to CPY to donate games, boxes, and snacks to help the program. She fondly remembers one dad who summed it up by saying “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen a community do!”
Jeff Benson is a member of the New Brighton/Mounds View Rotary Club
- Continuing its Mission with Help from the Coalition
By Carol Brown-Mills
“The Pandemic has dramatically impacted the teens and families in our program,” reported Tami Moberg, Founder and Executive Director of Quincy House, “but the grant from the Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition has provided us resources to support them in the critical areas of food, housing, transportation and other basic needs. When we are able to partner with groups like the Coalition, I feel like we’re these kids’ Mom and Dad.”
Consider the teen-agers in our community who are homeless or living on their own. Or have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Some have no way to get where they need to go, including Quincy House. Students who need school supplies, and teen mothers who need basic supplies for their babies. Many teens are providing for parents and siblings. Their paycheck from McDonald’s goes right into the family purse to help meet living expenses. They might also be supporting their parents emotionally, some of whom are unemployed and depressed, further fall-out from the Pandemic.
Poverty, homelessness and family instability are just some examples of the adversity facing the teens who are part of the Quincy House community. For Jamar*, going it alone in a sweltering upstairs apartment, laid off because of Covid, money from the grant provided him an air conditioner and paid his car insurance. When Keshawn* lost his job as a downtown office cleaner a 2-hour bus ride away, grant money helped pay his rent.
Then there’s Niesha* who, after overcoming many obstacles in her young life, was accepted to Drake University. When her hours as a CNA were cut back due to Covid, she resigned herself to being unable to go back to college this fall. But volunteers came forward to pay her registration fees, and Quincy House used Coalition grant money to set Niesha up in her dorm room and provide groceries.
The usual Tuesday/Thursday meals at the Quincy House provided by volunteer neighborhood groups are suspended due to Covid restrictions. Partnering with the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf and Loaves and Fishes to deliver groceries and meals are now the primary ways Quincy House is able to meet food insecurity for more than 30 teens and their families during the Pandemic.
In addition to food insecurity and housing instability, Coalition grant money supports access to transportation, a struggle made even more challenging during the Pandemic. Quincy House was able to get an Uber account which their teens can access to travel to jobs and “one-on-one” activities like tutoring sponsored by Quincy House.
“It’s been a difficult summer for our kids,” Ms. Moberg concluded. “But thanks to support from the Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition, we’ve been able to continue serving our families even in uncertain times. It’s made a real difference. Thank you!”
*NOT their real names
Carol Brown-Mills is a member of the Shoreview Community Foundation