Dennis Spears, successful local entertainer and beloved mentor to youth on the North Side, attributes much of his life success to a man who loved him unconditionally, taught him patiently, and provided steady examples of good citizenship and integrity in the way he lived his everyday life. This man was Spears’ grandfather, known to most in his Mangham, Louisiana community as Mr. George. Spears was born in Toledo, Ohio to a single mother he adores and describes as his “biggest fan.” Early on in his life, Spears’ grandparents stepped in to help their daughter and grandson, raising Spears on their farm and teaching him the values of hard work, community service and loving God.
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By Charles Hallman
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.
“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 →
Federal Reserve VP works to increase economic growth for marginalized communities
Dorothy Bridges, senior vice president responsible for community development and outreach at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, thought life was good in New Orleans in the 1950s and ’60s. She doesn’t recall noticing what others clearly saw as the poverty that existed inside and outside of the walls of her childhood home, a dwelling partitioned into apartments that housed her parents, siblings, extended family and others.
Bridges grew up feeling safe and loved, surrounded by a caring family and protective neighbors. She was born in rural Mississippi where her parents, grandparents and other relatives worked as sharecroppers. At age two, her family moved to New Orleans where her parents started out as laborers in a poultry processing plant. Continue Reading →