As I work and come in contact with African American families, I am mindful of the nutritional, housing, mental and emergency support needs of parents and families in our community. Below is a compilation of organizations that are local or in the immediate suburbs, are responsive, and have a culturally sensitive approach to meeting community needs.
Sabathani Community Center-Family Resource Services
Established in 1966, Sabathani is the only nonprofit organization founded by African American Minnesotans that is still in existence. Sabathani is located in the heart of South Minneapolis. It served 31,000 clients in 2015.
Resource Services includes one of the largest food shelves in the area. Food orders provide balanced nutrition for the entire family, including a variety of meats, legumes, rice, pasta, cereal, canned goods and packaged foods, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables (in season), baby items, toiletries, and even juice and dessert items.
Families can also get free clothing and furniture, income tax filing, back to school supplies and holiday support. Through the program, 25,000 people a year gain food security and self-sufficiency. Parents and families can benefit from services in the following four program areas:
- Building strong, healthy families
- Creating school success for children and teens
- Keeping seniors active and healthy
- Community-based health resources
Sabathani programs serve 30,000 people a year with a food shelf, free clothing and household goods, after-school programming for kids, a senior center, and health and wellness services for all ages. Sabathani leverages resources with nonprofits and small businesses in its building to serve even more needs. To learn more about its services, call Sabathani Community Center at 612-821-2300.
The Black Parent Group
This is a nonprofit organization that has many goals, which include:
- Providing culturally specific workshops to help parents and guardians
- Connecting families to local resources
- Encouraging community involvement and volunteerism
- Assist in building an African American marketplace and center of hope
- Provide opportunities for children to participate in artistic expression
The R.E.E.K. Program (Reach, Educate, Evolve, Knowledge), which is associated with the Black Parent group, seeks to connect families by providing free outings that bring families together. Their website link is www.theblackparentgroup.org/.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
NAMI Minnesota provides support groups to help parents utilize resources to meet the challenges of raising a child with a mental illness, learn coping skills, and develop problem-solving skills. Each of the support groups is facilitated by a parent who has a child with a mental illness and who has received specialized training.
The North Minneapolis group meets on the second Saturday of the month, from 12:30-2 pm, at Northside Center for Emotional Wellness; the South Minneapolis group meets on the first Saturday of the month, 2:15-3:45 pm, at Lake Nokomis Community Center, 2401 E. Minnehaha Pkwy. This group is for family caregivers of children under 18. Bilingual support is available for Spanish-speaking families. For more information regarding the sessions, contact NAMI at 651-645-2948 x130.
PACER was created by parents of children and youth with disabilities to help other parents and families facing similar challenges. PACER is staffed primarily by parents of children with disabilities and works in coalition with 18 disability organizations. PACER also provides programming for diverse families and families of African descent.
With assistance to individual families, workshops, materials for parents and professionals, and leadership in securing a free and appropriate public education for all children, PACER’s work affects and encourages families in Minnesota and across the nation. PACER is located in Bloomington, MN. For questions regarding resources for diverse families, contact EngagingDiverseFamilies@pacer.org or call them at 952-838-9000.
Minnesota African Women’s Association (MAWA)
MAWA promotes the health and well-being of African refugee and immigrant women and their families in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul through research, education, advocacy and programming. It is a pan-African women’s nonprofit organization providing services and programming of interest to women from all African countries living in Minnesota.
MAWA is governed by a board made up of African and American men and women who understand the issues that face African women and their families in the Twin Cities. This organization is located in Brooklyn Center. Contact MAWA at 763-561-2224 for more information.
Simpson Housing Services
Simpson Housing Services helps individuals and families experiencing homelessness move into stable housing by providing rental subsidies and supportive services.
Simpson’s Family Housing is one of Minnesota’s largest supportive family housing programs. Simpson provides rental subsidies and intensive services at any given time to 200 families with 400 children. Openings for family housing are filled by referral, primarily from Hennepin County shelters.
Families in the housing programs can participate in the Children & Youth Services Programs designed to help break the generational cycle of poverty and homelessness. These programs are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of highly mobile children who typically have limited access to traditional programs due to the challenges that accompany homelessness. For programs and housing requirements, contact Simpson Housing Services at 612-874-8683.
Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.