May 19, 2017
Collaboration of congregations provides housing for once-homeless young adults
4,080 youth and young adults are homeless and on their own on any given night in Minnesota; 200-300 of whom are in the southwest suburbs. For youth and young adults, the path out of homelessness is a long and perilous one.
These are the facts that astounded St. Stephen’s parishioners attending a meeting hosted by Edina Community Lutheran Church (ECLC) in 2013. The purpose of the meeting was a discussion on homelessness in the southwest suburbs and it sparked a calling in our parish that culminated this week with the opening of the 66 West Apartments in Edina.
In 2014, St. Stephen’s was invited by ECLC to join with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative and 3 other congregations in a project to provide stable, safe housing for young adults in Edina. Since that time, our church family, along with ECLC, Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer and Richfield United Methodist Church, have rallied around 66 West.
“The power of this collaboration of congregations has been amazing” said Jackie Sullivan, a St. Stephen’s parishioner who serves as the parish representative on the 66 West Task Force and on the Beacon Board of Directors. “The public testimony of people from the collaborative was noted by the city officials who ultimately gave approval for the project.” But the work didn’t stop there.
“The way our parish has supported this project has also been wonderful,” remembered Sullivan “it was a very proud moment when I stood in front of the parish to announce the city approval of the project to the rousing applause of all.” Since then, congregations in the collaborative have raised funds, lovingly made quilts, and most recently, gathered household goods. All with a goal of giving these young adults a helping hand as they lift themselves onto a new life path.
This week, several St. Stephen’s parishioners served at 66 West as residents moved into their new homes. “The residents were clearly excited, but also trying to take it all in” said parishioner, Mary Tomback. Dale’s Closet, an on-site room containing all of the items collected to help residents stock their apartments, was overflowing with options. “Several of the residents were clearly surprised by the opportunity to select new housewares” said Tomback, “we were so honored to be able to help them choose items for their new homes. The quilts, in particular, were greatly appreciated.”
Today we want to offer a BIG THANK YOU to the parish for all the support of 66 West. New opportunities to serve the residents will be shared in the future. For now, on-going prayers while the residents settle in are welcomed and encouraged. If you have questions or a calling to serve, contact Jackie Sullivan or Mary Tomback.
By Molly Reichard
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