As the HomeAid Twin Cities program manager, Donnie Brown meets with local housing organizations who have applied for construction project funds. It is apparent at onsite visits that many of the facilities need significant repairs. The chapter’s latest project, the House of Hope, was no different due to water damage. The BATC-Housing First Minnesota Foundation-HomeAid Twin Cities partnered with Homes By Tradition as the build partner to renovate the 900-square-foot parsonage from top to bottom for Emmaus Lutheran Church. The $63,000 restoration project included a new kitchen, appliances, floors, bathroom, walkway, basement, HVAC, and paint and received generous in-kind donations, saving the church more the 60% of total project cost. Click to view project photos.
Pastor Nick Dyrud of Emmaus Lutheran Church shared with us the history of the House of Hope and how its new purpose will impact lives for years to come. We believe what he shares offers insight as to how the foundation, builders, remodelers and associates are building new lives for homeless Minnesotans through housing. Excerpt from the letter from Pastor Nick Dyrud, Emmaus Luther Church:
Where do you lay your head at night? Where do you live? It’ We’ve all heard “home is where the heart is,” and it’s true. It’s the physical location providing shelter and safety as we grow and mature in life. The home is a bedrock for stability. Despite its dimensions, location, or contents, our homes play a critical and central role in the makeup of our lives. Consider with me the effect of homelessness, crisis, or family instability. For far too many children and adults alike, their home may be the most unstable, unsafe, or temperamental place for them to be. That is, if they even have a home.
The house on 2nd Avenue just off 85th Street in Bloomington on the property of Emmaus Lutheran Church was built in 1952 to provide a home for the minister and his family while serving the congregation. Believe it or not, the garage that sits adjacent to the home was built first, and the pastor lived there while the church and the house were built by members of the congregation. Since its construction, the house has provided needed shelter for some church staff. In 2004, the congregation made a very sacrificial decision to host an incoming refugee family from the Sudan. As the family integrated into a new culture and new setting, the church worked with them to move into their own home. Now the House of Hope is opening up a new chapter in its story.
Over the course of the last four years, my family and several others within the Emmaus congregation have been working with Together for Good, an organization that connects trusted volunteers to assist mothers in our city facing crisis situations with respite care for their children. It’s been a great blessing to be a part of this process of creating pathways for the church to come alongside vulnerable children and families with Christ-centered ministry, needed physical assistance, and social support. Over the course of this process, we have grown in our understanding of the great need to go even further. We have been moved to take another step in truly affecting the housing crisis because respite care alone is not enough to get mothers and children out of the cycle of poverty. Studies tell us that children raised by single parents are significantly more likely to have children at a young age, drop out of high school, and work less as young adults. That is where we are missing out as a church. We need to help offer resources to wrap around these parents and support them in this stage of life. So, with much prayer and deliberate focus on a plan moving forward, the church and Together for Good developed a plan to use its resources to help at-risk mothers in their place of poverty. These mothers are often heading up their household while being young, uneducated, and often unemployed.
Our hope and prayer is that this program will offer them an opportunity to live in House of Hope while receiving education help, employment assistance, nutrition and healthy living classes, and mentoring. The goal is to wrap around these mothers and show them that we love and value them, and to come alongside them in order to bring them out of poverty through transitional housing assistance and mentorship. Imagine what this could provide for a mother with young children who is striving to make ends meet, living on the streets, without any reliable or safe support from family or friends. This is why we are so encouraged to partner with a great foundation like the BATC-Housing First Minnesota Foundation-HomeAid Twin Cities.
Working together to make a difference in our city takes an incredible amount of work and professional expertise. From the renovation and construction of the home, to the hands-on work provided by Homes By Tradition and their trade partners, to the families who will serve, and everything in between, we all play a role in helping those in great need. So, with excitement and a little trepidation, we look forward to opening this new chapter at the House of Hope, so that those in the greatest of need find a place of stability and safety, a home where they can rest and find hope.