Debra Chavis

Recent Articles

A mother’s lesson leads to feeding hundreds for Thanksgiving

Oak Park Center helps those whose food dollars are stretched to the limits

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Debra Chavis, back in 2005, was instructed to serve the community — an instruction that came from her mother. Chavis’ mother suggested she provide “an authentic Thanksgiving dinner for the community with the real turkey, real ham, real cornbread dressing, fresh collard greens — like the meal we have in our own house” each November. As the director of the Oak Park Neighborhood Center in North Minneapolis, Chavis now fulfils her mother’s request. “We made everything from scratch — it was 199 people [who attended] that [first] year, and it went really well. “The volunteers of that event were my brothers and sisters,” recalls Chavis. Continue Reading →

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Chasing the tornado money





By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


Jerry Freeman

Senior Editor


Almost immediately after the tornado struck North Minneapolis in May 2011, the Minneapolis Foundation established its Minnesota Helps Fund and raised $1,756,060 to assist Northside residents. Many other groups and organizations furthered the cause with food drives and fundraising events. On July 14, MSR began a series of stories called “Chasing the Tornado Money” with the following subhead: “Community individuals, local corporations and foundations have contributed well over a million dollars in donations, grants and matching funds to assist North Minneapolis residents affected by the May 22 tornado. Responding to questions from readers about where all these dollars are going, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder decided to provide a community service by reporting, in the interest of transparency, on just where the funds have gone and how they have been used.”

One year and several “Chasing the Tornado Money” stories later, the MSR interviews three individuals representing three major contributors to the recovery effort — the foundation, the participating community organizations, and the Northside Community Response Team — on how they now view the work completed and the relief provided to storm victims through funds totaling more than $2 million.  

The Foundation

“Our fundraising efforts were really concentrated on the first year [of the recovery],” reports Minneapolis Foundation Grantmaking and Special Projects Director Jo-Anne Stately. Continue Reading →

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