Among those directly affected by the May 22 tornado that struck North Minneapolis are thousands of youth. As a result, some local agencies and organizations are using existing resources as well as funds raised by the Minneapolis Foundation, which set up Minneapolis Helps, to address the need for summer jobs as well as for such basics as food, clothing and shelter.
In addition to damaged homes, businesses and apartment buildings, trees and landscaping were also torn up by the storm. St. Paul-based Tree Trust has used a $24,152 Minnesota Helps grant to set up a youth job training program to help repair and rehab homes and rental homes.
According to Development and Marketing Director Tracie Huhn, the organization typically runs a similar program for youth ages 17-24 from September through June. After the storm, Tree Trust applied for the grant to allow them to extend it.
“Our grant just started on July 1,” she explains. “With the use of those funds, it will continue through August 31. [The youth] alternate weeks: They spend one week with us on a job site learning the basics of the construction trade while they are rehabbing homes with our partner, Urban Homeworks. And on the alternate week, they’re in an educational program working on their GED or high school diploma.”
Prior to the storm, at least half of the regular program participants were Northside residents, continues Huhn. “Many of them were in need of employment throughout the summer. So we applied to the Minneapolis Foundation to continue the employment for five of our North Minneapolis youth participants.”
As a result, the Minnesota Helps grant “basically prevented unemployment for five North Minneapolis youth,” Huhn says proudly, as they are working almost 40 hours a week on about 33 North Minneapolis damaged homes or rental units. “They are from the neighborhood, working on homes in their neighborhood.”
World Vision Twin Cities received a $9,507 Minneapolis Helps grant for emergency relief efforts in the days following the Northside storm in May. Spokeswoman Christine Connelly Bell told the MSR last week that 1,975 children and 542 adults were served through “multiple relief product distributions,” and the grant paid for costs associated with the distribution of over 29 pallets of essential basic needs products. “Those products include hygiene packs, cleaning supplies, new clothes and toys” to 12 Northside churches and three Brooklyn Park organizations serving victims inside the tornado-affected areas, wrote Bell in an email response.
In addition to the Minneapolis Foundation’s fundraising efforts to serve those affected by the storm, Cub Foods also donated $30,000 to help buy supplies and additional resources to help families in the community: $10,000 checks were presented to Shiloh Temple International, Masjid An-Nur mosque and Ascension Church during a July 14 ceremony at Cub’s Broadway store location.
Cub Community and Government Affairs Manager Miguel Alba reported that the store, along with its parent company Supervalu and its vendors, also raised funds to distribute basic needs supplies to an estimated 500 families.
“That means paper towels, cleaning supplies, diapers, hygiene products — things that people would need on a daily basis to help [them] during this crisis,” says Alba, adding that the store also held an on-site barbecue immediately after the storm hit.
“We are very proud of our staff…stepping up in the community,” he notes, adding that Cub Foods is committed to help as long as it is needed. “We are in conversations with the mayor’s office…in what we can do. People are still trying to recover.”
Huhn also noted that Tree Trust “has had a presence [in North Minneapolis] for 35 years,” including a youth/adult conservation corps. “We are currently serving 22 youth, and roughly half of them are North Minneapolis residents, many of them in the affected area.
“Some of the work they are doing is in North Minneapolis,” says Huhn. This includes park repair projects, lawn maintenance on several foreclosed properties, and building accessibility ramps on homes of elderly and disabled residents.
“We identified quite a few homes in the North Minneapolis tornado area where we previously put in an access ramp, and right now we are working with homeowners to identify who needs us to go back in and help repair those ramps,” says Huhn, who added that Tree Trust’s regular work program will resume in September.
“I can imagine that many of the properties we’ll work on will be in North Minneapolis,” she surmises.
Follow the money update
In part two of this series last week, the MSR reported that some organizations identified as Minnesota Helps grant recipients indicated that they had not as yet received their awards and were still awaiting the funds. Bruce Bjork of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches told us last week that he expects the funds will be sent to those organizations “sometime next week,” referring to the week of July 25-29.
Minneapolis Foundation Community Philanthropy Vice President Karen Kelley-Ariwoola added, “Minnesota Helps grantees are required to sign a grant award letter with the Minneapolis Foundation and a Memorandum of Understanding with the NCRT. Our goal is to foster a sense of collaboration among those funded to provide tornado relief.” She noted that delays might be possible if the memorandum hasn’t been returned.
A member of the Northside Community Response Team’s (NCRT) accountability committee, Bjork said that any organization requesting funds from the NCRT’s grant must first submit their request to that committee, which will review and make recommendations. Then it goes to the NCRT core team for final approval.
He also explained that the Minneapolis Foundation wants “all grantees” to be involved in the yet-to-be established NCRT database for proper tracking of the money. “Our job [the Council of Churches as fiscal agent] is to make sure the money is distributed…[and] all funding requests are properly documented,” Bjork said, adding that a final report will be given to the foundation.
“We have a level of accountability to our donors and our community,” said Kelley-Ariwoola.
For more information on Tree Trust’s programs, call 651-644-5800.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.