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Friday
Nov032017

First Covenant Shelter (Right in our Backyard) Expands to Year-round Service

Article by Claudia Kittock, photos by Rick Kittock

As many of you know, since 2009, First Covenant Church has provided shelter to people experiencing homelessness from November 1 to May 1. This is an important part of the shelter system, but for quite some time it has been clear that closing it on May 1 caused real hardship for people needing shelter, and contributed to the lack of shelter beds.

Through very hard work, that has changed. With the re-opening of the shelter this last week, the First Covenant Shelter is now a year-round shelter. This will be done through a partnership with St. Stephen's, which will provide the staff, assign the guests, and share the cost of operations. First Covenant will provide the space and volunteer coordination to provide and serve a hot meal nightly.

Guests of the shelter have access to a comprehensive facility, including employment and savings programs, help finding housing, mailboxes, laundry and showers.

The Adult Shelter Connect office handles intake and shelter placement for the First Covenant Shelter, and any other single adult shelter in Minneapolis. It is located in the lower level of St. Olaf Catholic Church at 215 S 8th Street (entrance by corner of 2nd Avenue & 8th Street). Hours are Monday - Friday 9am to 5:30pm; Saturday and Sunday 1pm to 5:30pm. (612) 248-2350

I spoke to a young couple this week who are sleeping in a parking garage. They told me how cold they are every night. He stays awake most nights so that he can make sure they are safe. After the night when it misted/snowed all night, I asked how they kept warm and dry. “We don’t.” Why are they homeless? Each was thrown out of their homes by their parents, and without a place to live have a very difficult time finding employment. There are people and social service agencies doing the very best they can to help, but without a bed, it all becomes so much more difficult.

How can you help support the First Covenant Shelter? There are many ways:

• Serve a meal. Sign up as an individual or organize a group to help purchase, prepare and serve an evening meal to our shelter guests. The schedule is filling up fast, so check out the calendar of available dates at www.1stcov.org/shelter. Then, pick a date for your group and email Norm Blagman, the shelter volunteer coordinator, at shelter@1stcov.org to reserve your date.

• Serve as a volunteer advocate. Advocates work more directly with guests by assisting St. Stephen’s staff with nightly check-in process, building connections with staff and guests, and helping guide volunteer groups as needed. This position requires a somewhat consistent presence (weekly or biweekly preferred), and training is provided. Contact Todd (tbratulich@1stcov.org) or Norm (shelter@1stcov.org) for more information, or contact St. Stephen’s volunteer coordinator Tess Gehring (TGehring@ststephensmpls.org).

• Donate!

1) There is a designated fund that goes directly to the First Covenant Shelter (select the shelter fund on this page: https://1stcov.churchcenteronline.com/giving. The designated funds are used exclusively for Shelter programming and space maintenance and improvements.

2) Visit https://ststephensmpls.org/donate 

Claudia can be reached at claudia@millcitytimes.org

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