March Letter from the Executive Director

There is no good place to be homeless.

Urban shelters, suburban churches, or motel rooms in rural Minnesota are not a substitute for a home of your own, but in times of crisis, they can be a life saver. But far too many Minnesotans do not have access even to this most basic of needs.

According to the Wilder Research 2012 homeless report, 12% of Twin Cities homeless are unsheltered. In Greater MN, an alarming 41% of homeless are unsheltered, thus living in cars, storage sheds, fish houses and other unfit places. Perhaps nowhere is the crisis more apparent than on and near the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota.

Last summer up to 100 men, women, and children lived in tents on the Leech Lake Veterans Memorial Grounds in Cass Lake. Untold more lived outdoors in various places in the surrounding area. But the good news is that a shelter is opening on the Reservation.

Open Your Heart was pleased to award a grant for the purchase of a van to allow staff and volunteers to conduct outreach to homeless people throughout that  area. With reliable transportation, a chronic issue for those homeless and in need of shelter and services, it is critical that the shelter staff is able to reach out. The isolation of people who are homeless or those fleeing domestic violence in Greater MN is a significant barrier in ensuring that those in need are able to access the most basic of services.

We are very happy with the leadership of tribal officials and the hard work of so many to bring this important project to the greater Cass Lake community and are thankful to our donors for making this grant possible.

Ed Murphy

Open Your Heart Welcomes New Board Members!

We are happy to announce the election of six new board members this year.

One of the 6 new board members, Jon Ruiz
One of the 6 new board members, Jon Ruiz

They bring a wide range of experience and have already brought a lot of energy and

ideas to our meetings.

Welcome, Susan Christian, Shannon Gahagen, Mike O’Halloran, Derek Holt, Paul Peters, and Jon Ruiz!

We would also like to wish a fond farewell to Jonathan Arnold, Kendall Carlson, Marra Funk, Mark Kaszynski, and Yoji Shimizu. You will be missed!

Learn more about our 21 board members here:

Share the Love this Valentine’s Day

…by pretty-flower-pictures-rosesDonating to Open Your Heart!
Giving to Open Your Heart is the most efficient way for you to impact the lives of thousands of people who are hungry and homeless in Minnesota.Our community has food and shelter needs that can’t wait. That’s why Open Your Heart  is dedicated to responding quickly and giving assistance when and where it is needed most.How You Can Make an Impact

  • $25 can put a smile on the face of a homeless child by providing school supplies and a backpack.
  • $50 can provide 500 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to your local food shelf through the Open Your Heart Summer Challenge.
  • $100 can provide a bed frame and mattress for a person staying in an emergency shelter on a cold winter night.
  • $250 can purchase a 3-month supply of diapers and other basic baby supplies to be distributed to a homeless family staying in a shelter.

Dedicate Your Donation and We’ll Send Them a Valentine’s Day E-Card 
Do you have a sweetheart, friend, or family member you want to ‘Share the Love’ with? Include their email address with their name when you dedicate your donation and we’ll send them a Valentine’s day e-card on the 14th letting them know about your gift.

Donate here!

Thank you and happy Valentine’s Day!

Ed Murphy

Executive Director

333 N. Washington Ave, Suite 409

Minneapolis, MN  55401


Donate Here

Community Garden Planning Grant RFP Released!

IMG_0293More than 300 food shelves operate in Minnesota. Approximately 20% currently operate a community garden on or near their food shelf site. Many other agencies providing programs alleviating hunger operate community gardens to generate food for program participants. For those lacking access to fresh, healthy food, the produce generated is an important source of nutrition. As a result of the gardens, many agencies have developed healthy eating, nutrition education, menu planning, and cooking programs. Agencies also report that operating gardens can be an excellent source of community building, often engaging volunteers, civic groups, and local businesses.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless believes that developing and operating a community garden can be a valuable addition to the services hunger relief programs provide. We also understand gardens can be challenging to develop and operate and thus the decision to move forward must be a thoughtful process.

Open Your Heart will issue Community Garden Planning Grants of up to $3,000 to non-profit organizations to help them determine the feasibility of bringing a garden to their agency. 

Grant funds are to be used to help agencies determine whether operating a community garden is a feasible and desirable undertaking. Developing a garden is an investment of time and resources. Usually, it is necessary to conduct soil testing, assess water capacity and landscaping needs, apply for permits, determine storage and refrigeration capacity, equipment needs, etc. It is also critical that agencies assess their organizational capacity to determine whether they can effectively recruit and manage the additional volunteers or staff to operate a garden. We encourage applicants to consider hiring consultants specializing in developing community gardens to help their organization through this process.

Agencies already operating gardens who wish to be considered for grants for equipment, storage, refrigeration, etc., should apply through our regular grant process and not through this RFP.  See our website for information on Hunger and Homeless Grants for this information.

To learn more about the grant process and download a copy of the application please visit:

A Note from Ed Murphy

Dear friend,

It is never good to be hungry or homeless, but in 2014 Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless was able to help nearly 200 agencies across the state to better serve people in need.  We reviewed a record number of applicants and especially targeted areas where we could have most impact.  Our Special Initiative in 2014 to address the frightening shortage of shelter beds available to homeless people in Greater Minnesota (41% unsheltered)  added  239 shelter beds and 100’s of motel vouchers where most needed. 

The end of the year for OYH means evaluating our success, determining how we helped communities improve life for hungry and homeless people.   With just 2.4 full time equivalent staff and 7.2% admin and fundraising costs, our efficiency means donor’s funds are making a big difference.  That is important because most of our funding comes from individuals like you who work hard and are willing to share.

Measuring success is more than numbers and when you get through the statistics of how much food was distributed, how many homeless people were helped, or how school supplies and warm clothing found their way to homeless students, there are challenges of real people.  Most are quietly trying to rebuild lives that may have been split apart by lost work, family break-ups, physical or mental illness, domestic violence or any of too many other reasons.

How do we really measure the impact on the life of a child who instead of living in a van with his family now has a warm bed and clean clothes?  Or the mom who can finally escape the daily abuse of her partner with a safe and supportive first step to a better life?  How do we measure the impact of caring shelter for a struggling veteran who faced his demons living in a storage shed?   Like the homeless teen now able to escape a life of ‘couch hopping’ from one dangerous house to another, there are stories behind each of the Minnesotans helped because of the support of individuals and businesses in our community.  It is because of you that this work is possible.  We can’t help unless you do.  Please consider renewing your support today.


Ed Murphy
Executive Director


What do I need to know about Give to the Max Day?

Did you donate? Share this on Facebook!
Did you donate? Share this on Facebook!

This Thursday, November 13th, is Give to the Max Day.

About Give to the Max Day

Give to the Max Day was created in 2009 to launch GiveMN, a collaborative venture led by Minnesota Community Foundation and many other organizations committed to helping make our state a better place.

That initial spark touched off a blast of online giving — $14 million in 24 hours. Since then, Give to the Max Day has become an annual tradition. Every year thousands of organizations and individuals generate donations and excitement for Minnesota causes that are working to improve the quality of life for all Minnesotans.

Give to the Max Day has become a national model for giving days.

Here’s what you need to know before you give:

1. It’s easy for you to make an impact in the lives of hungry and homeless Minnesotans. 10,000 Minnesotans will be homeless tonight and 8,500 will visit a food shelf on any given day. Your donation allows Open Your Heart to make an impact by partnering with those who serve people in need, growing donor engagement and increasing awareness of hunger and homelessness issues. We work hard to ensure your donation goes where the need is greatest.

2. Your donation will be matched. Thanks to the generosity of the Open Your Heart Board of Directors and our event partner, Culligan Water Conditioning of Minnetonka, the first $6,600 of gifts scheduled for or given on Give to the Max Day will be matched!

3. By donating you are making Open Your Heart eligible for an extra $2,000. is picking one donation at random every hour on Give to the Max Day and awarding the recieving organization an extra $2,000. That means a donation of $10 could help us win $2,000. Anyone want to stay up and donate at 4am? And if that weren’t enough, there will be one final drawing at the end of Give the Max Day and the winner will recieve a Super-Sized Golden Ticket of $20,000.

4. You are part of something big. GiveMN has served more than 230,000 individuals who have made donations on Together, we are making a difference in Minnesota.

5. We need your help getting the word outSharing our Facebook and Twitter posts really helps us!

Thank you for your support!

Tap Into Your Heart Event Was a Success!

Thank you everyone who came out for our Tap Into Your Heart Awareness event at Fulton Brewery. Because of the hard work of our Fund, Development and Outreach Committee and inspiring guests, the event was a great success! We gave out a lot of cool prizes and made a lot of great connections. A new annual tradition?

And thank you again to our sponsors, Culligan and Kabomelette!






Domestic Violence and Homelessness

Flash and glamour of the NFL and casino hotels notwithstanding, domestic violence is usually a private occurrence, its victims often isolated and confused.  Mostly it takes place in the home, far from the revealing eye of the camera.  One in four women will become a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime, making it one of our most underreported crimes.  Domestic violence is also a leading cause of homelessness among women and families with the 2012 Wilder survey, reporting nearly 1/3rd of homelessness among women a direct result of domestic abuse.  In Greater Minnesota, it is even higher.

As a non-profit funder of domestic violence shelters, we have had the opportunity to meet and talk with staff, volunteers, and residents of shelters across Minnesota.  I find much hope and perseverance among the victims and amazing dedication of the hard working staff, many of whom have been victimized themselves.   But I also too often hear of the many barriers victims face in finding the help necessary to escape a violent life.  It starts with the simple availability of safe and supportive shelters which, especially in rural areas and on reservations, can be few and far between.  Too often I have heard from women who have finally found the courage or opportunity to flee only to find shelters were far from home and often full.  In fact, according to the Wilder Survey, 48% of women stay in an abusive situation because they had no other housing option.  To understand that danger, consider that more than 1/3rd of murdered women are killed by their intimate partner.  Shelters save lives and must be available and accessible.

Most troubling, the systems in place to help victims often exasperate the problem.  Many workers and clients tell of experiences with indifferent law enforcement and reluctant prosecutors.  Victims often believe Orders of Protection will only heighten their risk so the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that just 20% of domestic violence victims seek them.  And since approximately half of orders are violated, according to the Department of Justice, it’s not surprising victims are reluctant to file.  Nearly all moms tell of their fear of losing custody of their children if they must flee an abusive home, with one young mother in northern Minnesota telling of local child protection services warning her that if she fled and left her children in an abusive home she risked losing custody.  So for too long, she stayed.

To be sure, most police, prosecutors, and social services want to do the right thing and are outraged about domestic violence.   Most are excellent resources for shelters and the women and children they serve and have saved countless lives.  Domestic violence is a crime and like any crime it is not the victims fault.   That message can’t be overstated.

Men in particular need to take action because they can help break the cycle of abuse so common in families.  The CDC reports that children who witness abuse in the home, where at least 60% of domestic violence occurs, are much more likely both to abuse and be abused as adults.

Domestic Violence can be visible – the celebrity athlete abuser caught on camera or the woman who shows up to work with a black eye, or discreet.   Either way it is not a problem that will go away by itself.  Nor is it the responsibility of the victims to do what it takes to end this crime.  Please, talk to your children.  Reach out to a victim or perpetrator you might know.  Support shelters that offer front line crisis services to victims.  Be part of the solution.

Tap into Your Heart with us on September 10th

Join us on September 10th at Fulton Brewery in Downtown Minneapolis from 4pm-7pm to learn more about Open Your Heart and the state of hunger and homelessness in Minnesota.

Tap into your Heart PDF Flyer Final

Do you know how many people will be homeless in Minnesota tonight?

Do you know how many trips to Minnesota food shelves there will be today?

Do you have connections with people who are as passionate as you are about alleviating hunger and homelessness?

You will after this event!

Door prizes will be announced at 5pm and 6pm, so be sure to get there early.

RSVP here or on Facebook.


BIG thank you to our partners!




North Loop Fall Crawl – Sept 12th-13th

The North Loop Fall Crawl has chosen Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless as their highlighted charity! North Loop Craw Education Flyer

All participating stores will be accepting school supplies and donations for Youth in Shelters around the Twin Cities.

In the North Loop of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Friday and Saturday, September 12th and 13th, from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Shopping maps and entry forms are available at the 11 participating stores. Go to their Facebook page for information on how to win the $500 shopping spree with Ali Kaplan from Shop Girls, 107.1 Visit 8 of the 11 participating stores and you will qualify for the grand prize worth $500.

According to Ashley Kilcher from Roe Wolfe, “ This is an opportunity for us as store owners to highlight both our stores as well as, this exciting and dynamic neighborhood, the North Loop. “We are proud of the feel of the neighborhood and we are working as a community to make it an exciting destination for shoppers, diners as well as entertainment.” Says, Pam Pappas Stanoch, owner of C’est Chic Boutique.

Come and explore the North Loop, Friday and Saturday, September 12th and 13th from 10-9.

Participating Stores: C’est Chic Boutique, D’Nolo, Jeremeo, Local D’Lish, Lolë, martinpatrick 3, Ribnick’s, Roe Wolfe, Shoesters, Statement, Stephen Vincent Design