Kicking off the new year with our first Grantee Monday! Each Monday, Open Your Heart will highlight one of our charity partners, showcasing the organization and it’s impact.
Today’s grantee highlight is about one of our recent 2018 grantees Loaves & Fishes! Loaves & Fishes received funding from OYH to purchase four new doors for expanded, energy-efficient refrigeration space in their warehouse. The expanded refrigeration will enhance the quality and quantity of fresh food that is distributed through their street outreach meal program. Loaves & Fishes began in 1982 with two dining sites. Today they serve at 60+ meal outlets in seven counties and are the largest open to the public free meal program in Minnesota. Thank you Loaves & Fishes for all the wonderful work you do throughout Minnesota!
Recent Grantee Impact Stories
In October 2018, Open Your Heart Awarded Small Sums with a $8,910 grant to purchase 198 rush-hour bus passes for the individuals that they serve. Here are a few quotes from some of the individuals that were impacted by the grant:
“I have been unemployed since January due to a workplace injury. I had to switch my profession to office work due to the injury and without your help I would not have been able to accept the job without a bus pass. I appreciate the chance to succeed not just for myself, but to provide a strong work either for my kids”. – Small Sums Resident
“I am currently still homeless, but I want you to know your efforts have pushed me closer to my goals. The helped I received was a bus card to get to work to hopefully end my homelessness. It may not seem like a lot, but your donation means the world to me!” – Small Sums Resident
In August 2018, Open Your Heart awarded Our Saviour’s Community Services with a $8,625 grant to purchase a new refrigerator and freezer. Discussing the impact it’s already had on the organization, Sandy Aslaksen, the Executive Director at Our Saviour’s states:
“Our volunteer meal providers are so excited to have these new refrigeration and freezer units, generously provided by Open Your Heart, to safely store the food they bring to serve at our shelter. Additionally, we feel good knowing our meal service is safer for the 40 men and women whom stay with us each night”.
June 2018 Grantees
Open Your Heart awarded Ascension Place with a $2,500 grant to purchase new school supplies, school clothes, shoes, tutoring supplies, and funds to cover field trip costs for more than 130 homeless children. One Ascension Place staff member highlights the impact that Open Your Heart’s Education Grant made on their organization and the individuals that they serve, stating:
“Discretionary funding from Open Your Heart’s Education Fund is so important to our program, because each family comes to our shelter with unique needs and challenges, and we are unable to predict many of their educational needs until they arise. One of our primary goals at St. Anne’s Place is to alleviate the negative effects of trauma. The stresses of homelessness can have a significant impact on a child’s development, motivation, confidence and ability to focus in school, and grant funding from Open your Heart provides us with more tools to meet each child’s unique needs.
A 36-year-old mother of two (ages 3 and 11) moved into St. Anne’s Place in November 2017. This was her first experience with homelessness. Her son had autism but had not yet received a diagnosis or services. St. Anne’s Place staff helped her coordinate assessments for her son, and helped her work with PICA (Parents in Community Action) and Minneapolis Public Schools to access the services he needed. He began to thrive in school and woke up every day excited to get on the bus. While at St. Anne’s Place, the mother participated in parenting groups, yoga, and financial education classes. She met with the on-site family therapist weekly to work on her mental health issues. After 4.5 months at St. Anne’s Place, the mother got a job as a PCA (Personal Care Assistant) and found an apartment she loved. The family moved into their new home in April 2018.”
Open Your Heart awarded Bridgepointe with a $2,850 grant to purchase a new stove, coffee maker, and freezer for their food shelf. A Bridgepointe staff member stated:
“Because of the grant from Open Your Heart we are able to serve more than 200 people a month, helping them with weekly meals and to get food on their tables at home. It is a blessing to have Open Your Heart [as a] partner to help fight against poverty, hunger, and homelessness in our community.”
Community Emergency Assistance Programs, Inc. (CEAP) was awarded a $6,200 Hunger and Homeless Grant from Open Your Heart to assist in the purchase of a new lift grate for their food rescue truck. A staff member from CEAP discussed the impact that OYH’s grant had on CEAP and stated:
“The grant from Open Your Heart allowed us to sustain our food rescue operations by sizing our truck with the appropriate size lift to accommodate the ever-increasing weight of the food donations we are accepting from our partners. Without this critical replacement, we were one malfunction away from bringing our food rescue operation to a standstill.”
Open Your Heart awarded Life House, Inc. with a $1,647 grant to purchase a new oven for their Drop-In Center kitchen. Explaining the importance of this grant for their program, a Life House staff member stated:
“Thanks to Open Your Heart we were able to purchase a new smart technology electric range for our youth drop-in center. Our drop-in center serves over 700 youth ages 14 to 24 annually, opening for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday. The purchase of this range will help us to continue to provide nutritious meals to the most vulnerable youth in our community.”
People Reaching Out to Other People (PROP) was awarded a $3,500 grant from Open Your Heart to purchase a new refrigerator. One PROP staff member highlights the impact that Open Your Heart’s Hunger and Homeless Grant made on their organization and the individuals that they serve, stating:
“Open Your Heart’s funding allowed us to expand our refrigeration capacity when we remodeled our Fresh Choice Market. We are now able to offer more nutritious food [options] including produce, lean protein, and dairy that improve the health and well-being of our clients”.
Open Your Heart awarded Safe Haven Shelter for Battered Women with a $3,000 grant to purchase backpacks, school supplies, clothing/shoes and other necessary educational items to allow our shelter’s students equally participate with their peers. One Safe Haven staff member highlights the impact that Open Your Heart’s Education Grant made on their organization and the individuals that they serve, stating:
“Because of the Open Your Heart grant children at our shelter can fit in with other kids in every aspect of school life — academic, social and extra-curricular. This feeling of belonging helps them concentrate on learning and to participate with confidence.
For a thirteen year old boy, school is not an easy place to be. For a thirteen year old boy living in a women’s shelter and shouldering the responsibility, along with a mom who has been through way too much, of raising his four younger siblings, school can be a living nightmare. The Open Your Heart grant was vital in relieving a huge amount of stress in this particular teenager’s life. Before coming to our shelter having clean clothes was not high on his list of needs. Unfortunately, kids at school, and teachers, took notice of the lack of personal hygiene and brought it up with him. He did the best he could to keep his sisters clean for school, but him and his brother often skipped their showers and rarely had clean clothes to change into. After the family came to the shelter, Open Your Heart allowed for these two brothers to go out shopping and finally to take care of themselves. They had a blast trying on different outfits, figuring out their sizes, wearing clothes they’d never worn before. Their confidence shone out of them when they got back to the shelter and put on a fashion show of sorts for everyone. They couldn’t stop their smiles from taking over their faces, and getting ready for school the following Monday was a lot easier knowing they wouldn’t get teased by the other students. The clothes let these kids be kids. They allowed them to fit in at school, to make new friends, to be a part of group project without snide comments from the other students. They get to wear clothes that fit them, that aren’t full of holes in the wrong places and that helped them look cool, or… on fleek, whatever the preferred term is for these kids. It might just look like a pair of sweatpants, a basketball jersey, and some name-brand sandals to an outsider, but to these kids, that outfit showed care, love, compassion, acceptance, and understanding. Someone cares about them. Someone wants them to feel confident and to succeed. And they know this because of an afternoon spent shopping, and a few new outfits.”
Open Your Heart awarded St. Andrew’s Community Resource Center with a $6,340 grant to purchase appliances and furniture for their new shelter in Hugo, MN. Highlighting the impact that OYH’s grant had on their new shelter, a staff member states:
“Open Your Heart provided the funds to purchase the appliances and dining room tables for the new St. Andrew’s Family Shelter. We couldn’t open the shelter without this! Getting these in place was one of the last items to be able to open our shelter on July 31st, and significantly increase shelter capacity for homeless families in the area.
To date (8/30/18) we have had 3 families in our shelter. We have helped families who have previously been on the street and have helped move families from hopelessness to seeing a future. Family members who had no plans, have [now] become employed.”
Open Your Heart provided the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless (MCH) with a $5,000 grant to support their 2018 statewide annual conference. An MCH staff member stated:
“Open Your Heart’s generosity allowed us to not only put on another successful event for learning and networking, but allowed people with lived experiences of homelessness to attend our conference.”
Open Your Heart awarded a $4,720 grant to the Salvation Army of Fergus Falls to purchase a new kitchen steam table. Highlighting its impact, one of the Salvation Army’s staff stated:
“With OYH’s grant we can continue serving 50 people every day during our lunch meal and 20 youth who receive a meal during a school program. Support as simple as a warm , healthy, and safe meal is often the first source of hope for families and individuals experiencing crisis.”