September Update 2023

Homeless Meals

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Along with serving 400-500 families each week with groceries, Source summer meals included: Homeless Outreach, Community Meals, Healthy Cooking Class, Women’s Drop-in and homeless meals “family style” at the Source Community Center. One homeless encampment recently sprouted up next to one of our residential homes, bringing both challenge and opportunity. To suggest change in their lives, we decided to invite the whole group into our Fallout building for lunch so that our case workers could be on hand to offer resources to try to break the pattern of homelessness.

Homeless Survivor Loves to Feed & Pray for those in Need

Fighting the battle many vets face, Carl was homeless and struggling ten years ago. He met the folks at our partner, Simpson Shelter and Food Pantry and dove in. Carl eventually got an apartment downtown Minneapolis but really wanted to serve in this community so he found a place in the Whittier Neighborhood where Source and Simpson serve. “Sometimes I get lonely, but being here gives me a sense of purpose, gives me a real chance to do something that matters. I used to be homeless and I want to serve with the very sort of organization that helped me get out of that awful place.” Carl is full of energy as he comes each week to work with the food distribution.

During the pandemic Source and Simpson forged a partnership that eventually made a way for Simpson Pantry to open its food distribution from Source’s location. “Carl has been actively with us, serving and now employed by Simpson since the pandemic. He’s very reliable and always ready to work hard!” commented Jeff Winkelman of Simpson Pantry.

Knowing the streets and conquering homelessness himself, Carl has started joining us for homeless outreach this summer. He’s never hesitant to lead prayer in front of a group of people and is becoming more bold to share Good News with those on the street, as he remembers from those days for himself.

“I love to study the Bible,” Carl told us when he first learned the Thursday night dinner included a Bible Study discussion, “If I’d known there was a Bible study after the meal I would have started coming sooner.” Recently dividing into Spanish and English studies following the dinner, Carl has a very real connection with those who attend from the streets. Homeless people we’ve met during outreach feel understood and welcomed as he shares the gospel with them.

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Shuttle Bus Serves Poorest of the Poor

Twenty-five percent of our food recipients arrive on foot each week, an indicator of the severity of the poverty in our area. When you work in communities of poverty and marginalized people, chaos comes with the territory. “Our job is to be the light and to be a blessing to others,” said our van driver. Jesus traveled to bless people, and He had crowds pressing all around Him and He only stopped to acknowledge that someone had reached out to him and received a blessing. In a chaotic moment, someone was blessed. The cost shouldn’t make sense. We bought a van, we purchased fuel, we paid insurance and we paid a driver to give free rides to people in need. This leads us to the “unremarkable”. To help reign in the chaos we made a decision to limit our perimeter to 5k (ok runners, and foreigners were talking your language) or around 3 miles in any direction. Helping a few of our Latino mothers load up the van with three bags of 50 pounds of potatoes while another one of the mothers nurses her baby in the van is remarkable. Five Latino women representing five families traveled over 5k with their little ones to receive a blessing. We offered a ride and they took us up on it. We don’t know how they came to us, but they were determined to reach out to our new ministry to be blessed. We broke our 5k policy to make sure that a blessing was going to happen. On the books and on paper a ride ministry shouldn’t make sense. Hunger in a society with plenty of food doesn’t make sense. However, hunger is real and it isn’t going to follow our 5K policy… and neither will our compassion.

Supportive Housing: Fleeing from war-torn Ukraine

R in front of J House
Friday Volunteers

Early in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mariupol was bombed. Anna, her mother and grandmother fled to a nearby village. Anna, only 23 at the time, had just finished a masters in computer programming. A family friend who saw a bright future ahead of Anna, assessed the situation and decided she needed to get out of the area altogether. That friend bought her a ticket out of the country.

Anna arrived in the US traumatized by the experiences of war, separation from her family, and very real culture shock. “Listening to English was like being hit on my ears when I first arrived.” After 5 weeks in a difficult and insecure living situation she met someone who would sponsor her rent for the next 6 months. She remained frightened of everything and everyone around her, not knowing who to trust.

When Anna arrived at Source and was introduced to the supportive living program, she was still skeptical and unsure. Since moving into her own apartment, she has been volunteering every week in the food shelf and attending church regularly. “I feel integrated into society and am very thankful to be here.” She takes the bus or rides a bike donated to her, “I’m happy to be in a central location.” Since moving in, she has established friendships with peers and is finally able to enjoy life a bit. “I have a little more hope and feel more secure with less anxiety than I did last summer having just arrived.”

Church attendance was something very foreign to Anna. She was hurt by church attenders when she first arrived and didn’t want to trust them. Now she goes to church regularly with friends. “I have heard messages of hope at church. I think about these when I start to worry.”

Anna still has family to think about at home and her status in the US is constantly under review. She has less anxiety now that she is able to make more decisions about her life. One staff member who met her when she first arrived commented how changed she is, even from how she was 4 months ago! “It’s a miracle she is open to attending church! I’m so happy to see she’s doing much better than last year!”

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Crime Doesn’t Pay, or Does It?

Family and youth stabilization is critical to restoring Minneapolis in these years after 2020.

Impoverished families have always battled multiple fronts: stable housing, job and career opportunities, access to medical & healthy food, city schools & education, crime & violence, domestic & drug abuse, alcoholism, trafficking young girls & generational welfare. Minneapolis males of color graduation rate is the lowest in the USA (less than 40%).

Historically, neighborhoods do not recover from riots. Minneapolis continues to have the fewest cops per capita in the nation (even with reducing the qualifying standards). If you are 15 years old and steal a car there are no consequences. The fentanyl epidemic has become a reality on the streets, this summer homelessness has increased and open drug use is more common than ever before.

In Minneapolis Crime Pays

Families of poverty have never had so many fronts to fight and so few opportunities for stability. We are called to “Speak to those in darkness to come out and those in bondage to be free,” Isaiah 49:9. In the midst of the despair in Minneapolis in 2023, we have seen individuals turn from the dark, ask for prayer, make positive choices and seen a spiritual harvest including 400 1st time commitments in ‘21-’22.

Investing in youth and providing physical needs for impoverished families are practical opportunities to empower life long change.

Women’s Drop-In

The Women’s Drop-In Team ready to welcome visitors

A recent visitor to the women’s drop-in hours surprised us.

She arrived well dressed, calm and poised. She had come one or two other times before, talking with one of our staff who usually meets the ladies who arrive. She’d be given some personal products and told about the community meal and Bible study. She came to the dinner and the study, contributed and enjoyed herself. Now after just a couple touches, she is volunteering at Source. It turns out she lives across the street in an expensive apartment and is going through a messy divorce. She works, but it’s not enough to cover her expenses. She has three children and is an immigrant to the US. Source has been able to encourage her in both spiritual and physical realms. Source will be able to have an ongoing impact on her life.

Summer Internship is an Eye-Opening Experience for our Teens

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Teens Sorting Food

For decades Source MN has deliberately invested in youth in Minneapolis. Our current 8-week long paid summer teen internship is one way we invest in youth. All 10 of the teens we accepted attended either a Christian or public school in Minneapolis this past year, with multiple ethnicities and native languages represented.

Our goal is to teach them job skills and ethics as well as form them in virtue and character, utilizing many community speakers and making one-on-one mentorship a priority. One student said of the weekly sessions with speakers, “I was taught how to be a better employee, but also how to be a better person.” Another commented on how impactful the mentorship time was for them, “It was great to have someone who would pray for me and give wisdom in areas I needed it.”

They’ve had an overwhelming positive experience participating in homeless outreach, food shelf distributions, and landscaping & maintenance projects on our properties. At first the homeless outreach seems overwhelming, but one intern commented that he loves the chance to pray with people who have very real problems and challenges.

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One intern who has had a less than positive experience in the school system commented that this is a place where they’ve felt accepted and part of a community.  Another intern saw the value in this program, “In the internship, we learned vital life skills that everyone needs to be a valuable worker. But more than that, we had first-hand experience of the poverty that plagues innocent people. And we see genuine kindness and beauty in life through helping those who need it.”

We wish all of them the very best as they approach their new school year.

Homeless Outreach/State of Homelessness in Minneapolis

People experience homelessness for a variety of reasons and the volume of homeless people in south Minneapolis has increased significantly in recent years. There’s definitely a decline in the winter months but several homeless women continued to visit our regular women’s drop-in hours even in January. This summer we’ve been using a solid rotation of 10 staff, interns and volunteers to go out 2 afternoons each week to bring hope and mercy to people who are open to these conversations. We’ve come to know them by name and are joyful when they come in later in the week for our community meal and Bible study or our women’s drop-in hours. Solving homelessness is a complex problem but God is part of the solution.

Little Earth Pop-Up

There’s a unique area in south Minneapolis called Little Earth. It is a subsidized housing complex that intentionally prefers residents of Native American heritage so many mistakenly believe it is a Native American reservation. It is, however, an area of deep poverty and Source MN has been blessed to be able to distribute food onsite for several summers. Our first summer visit was very impactful for our summer teen interns and one elderly couple invited several of us for a return visit to their apartment. The couple had been experiencing deep tragedy and recognized the faith and trust we had in the Lord and asked us to pray God’s blessing over them. We believe we were the ones more blessed witnessing their courage in the face of adversity.

ESL – English as a Second Language Classes

The fall session of English classes has started. With so many new people coming through our doors we happy to provide some ESL help. Mally teaches the beginner class and noticed that some of her students were able to get jobs with their new English skills. We have an intern helping with childcare during this time. It’s our hope that the classes continue to grow.

Healthy Cooking Class

Not all of the residents in south Minneapolis grew up in a family setting with sit-down meals.  Not all of the residents are used to cooking with the predominant foods that are easily available in our stores. The idea of a healthy cooking class came out of a conversation with Second Harvest, one of Source MN’s community partners. The blueprint is inviting area restaurant chefs to partner with our community partner, Columba Reyes in providing the menu, the recipe, the ingredients, and the setting for our clients to stop in weekly and get cooking in our commercial kitchen. The life skill of learning how to prepare a delicious meal goes a long way to building stability in the community.

Alpha Course and Bible Studies

For decades, Source MN has offered the Alpha course on and off. It was designed and is still used as a basic introductory course for new Christians. Participants begin with a shared meal, then watch a segment of video in their native language created by Alpha, and lastly discuss content from the video in small groups. The last time we offered Alpha at Source, there were three distinct language groupings, Vietnamese, Spanish, and English. Helping with small groups is a great opportunity for volunteers to serve. Providing spiritual food remains at the heart of our work here in south Minneapolis.


SOURCE MN INC. P.O. BOX 8212 MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55408 612.822.5200