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A Challenge to Mill District Condo Residents: Serve a Shelter Meal!

Article by Claudia Kittock, Photo by Rick Kittock

Did you ever wonder what draws people to a particular place? Why did you choose the neighborhood you chose? What drew you there? People experiencing homelessness choose a place to sleep the same way each and every one of us does. Is it safe? Is it comfortable? Am I around people I am comfortable with? Do I blend in? It was no surprise to find a sense of community and familiarity at a recent visit to the shelter at First Covenant Church.

Last week the board of Friends of the Mill District, all people who live in or work in Downtown, brought dinner to the shelter at First Covenant Church. It was a group of neighbors taking dinner to a group of neighbors.

The shelter offers beds to 50 people experiencing homelessness, and is now open year-round. We arrived early and chatted with people lined up outside the church. The first thing we heard from our neighbors at the shelter was “Thank you.” Thank you for coming, thank you for talking with us, and thank you for bringing food.

Everything about that evening felt comfortable and was something I grew up doing. In my hometown, when a neighbor is in trouble, you show up. Showing up with food was the norm. It didn’t matter what the trouble was, just show up and bring food. I once asked my Mom why that was what people did. She explained that food is always comforting and necessary, so when you don’t have answers to people’s troubles, bring food.  It never hurts.

Being at the shelter to serve dinner felt like a ‘back home’ moment. I talked with Marie, a woman with 2 master’s degrees in the production of computers. Another woman, LeeAnn, has a 4-year degree in nursing, and an 18-month-old daughter who is the light of her life. Both of these women are living lives with challenges, and while they work to find their footing again, food and a warm place to sleep are essential.  They are your neighbors.

We also talked with a man in a wheelchair, Greg, who loves to sing. He loved the idea of coming to the Mill City Singers' rehearsal and was there on Saturday. Greg came and sang a soaring solo that had the entire group cheering and clapping. He left surrounded by neighbors and new friends and swears he will be back to sing with us every week.

It was a great evening and one the Friends of the Mill District is challenging each and every one of you to replicate. You can find all the information you need at Organize a group of friends to bring food and serve dinner. I guarantee a special night of community. Let’s make this a condo challenge! We challenge the Bridgewater, Stonebridge, Stone Arch Lofts, the Humboldt, the Carlyle, the Whitney, the Humboldt, the Washburn, and Zenith! Find a group of friends in your building and sign up to help your neighbors. Show up. You don’t have to solve homelessness, but you can do what matters. Be a neighbor, bring food, and show up! Let’s see how many condo buildings respond. You won’t be sorry.

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).


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