Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Helping Together

It all started with a car accident that totaled her car.

"Without a car, she lost her job. Without her job, she lost her apartment. Without her apartment, she was facing homelessness with her child. Without family to support her, Crystal sank into depression and hopelessness, unsure of what to do when the day came when she would have to leave her home.

"Fortunately she was able to secure emergency housing through her church..." Hopefully, that church connection also provided the love and prayer support she needed...

All of that was a wonderful thing for Crystal... but the rest of what was needed came through community partnerships.
  • a "Community Action Agency"
  • a "Parents Support and Outreach Program"
  • the "Workforce Center"
  • a program called "Helping People Get There" (volunteer drivers)
These led to a job, housing support for a permanent place to live... but, living in central Minnesota, she really needed a car, since, with volunteer drivers, she would often be early or late to work and day care. She saved up money for insurance, and through a United Way Transportation Program, she was able to receive a donated car.

All along, someone in the community had a older model car with only 90,000 miles on it that they were willing to donate! But it took the community partnership to connect the person in need with the vehicle.

The board president of United Way of West Central Minnesota writes:
"When Crystal came to our office to complete the documentation and title transfer paperwork, she cried with joy. Her car was there, waiting for her, complete with a car-seat for her son and a full tank of gas. She could scarcely believe it."
You can read more of the story at this link on the West Central United Way website.

Today I met James Miller, the "marketing director" of that particular United Way (based in Willmar). I stopped there after a networking meeting sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits -- a meeting that was held at the Heartland Community Action Agency Building. Tomorrow I'm meeting with Mark Sexton of Wright County Community Action.

I'm doing all this because if we are going to truly love others in practical ways, its important for us to prayerfully work with community partnerships. In Cokato there are many people who don't know about these organizations; there might be a bit more knowledge in Dassel since they are closer to the County Offices (in Litchfield) than Cokato is to its "county seat" (in Buffalo).

I believe that churches should be carefully and prayerfully helpful to connect people with whatever resources are available. As I learn more about what's available, I will be more helpful as I serve here as a trusted first call for help.

(I've been working on the possibility of getting a "Love INC" affiliate in our community... I haven't found others to work with me on that yet... but we can still do a lot with the community partnerships that exist.)

Here's a video highlighting the work of the United Way of West Central Minnesota. "Crystal" is highlighted in the middle of the video.


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