Beltrami Electric Cooperative has selected Village of Hope as the winner of the local 2019 Touchstone Energy® Community Award from a pool of excellent and worthy nominations, according to Beltrami Electric’s Marketing/Communications Specialist, Angela Lyseng.
Beltrami Electric sought candidates for the Touchstone Energy® Community Award, which recognizes organizations for outstanding contributions to the local community. Village of Hope was nominated by Riki Scheela of Bemidji. The recognition comes with a $500 cash award and an engraved Touchstone Energy® Community Award plaque signifying the organization’s commitment to community.
Village of Hope is a non-profit organization which provides a 24-hour emergency shelter and supportive services for families experiencing homelessness. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has evolved from a shelter that provides food and a bed to a shelter that identifies the root causes of homelessness and works collaboratively to break the cycle of homelessness.
Ours to Serve House of Hospitality opened its doors in 1983, when a group of community members decided to create a place for homeless individuals to receive a new start. The staff served from a small house located in Bemidji. Due to a rising number of homeless families, a new shelter, the Village of Hope, was built in 2011 to serve families and pregnant women.
Village of Hope is one of only four emergency shelters for families in the Northwest Continuum of Care Region, which encompasses 12 counties and 75,180 square miles. It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has evolved from a shelter that provides food and a bed to a shelter that identifies the root causes of homelessness and works collaboratively to break the cycle of homelessness.
Homelessness is a devastating experience that significantly impacts the health and well-being of families in the community. Children who are homeless may live in chaotic or unsafe environments where they may be exposed to various forms of violence. Village of Hope provides a safe environment to build skills that transfer to school and jobs.
Village of Hope engages in a two-generation approach for combating homelessness and poverty. This approach provides opportunities for parents and children to grow together. The impact of no education, economic support, social capital or lack of health and well-being can last a lifetime and be passed onto the next generation. Creating an environment where families can see a future and be given the skills and support to move toward that future impacts families, and in turn, impacts our communities.
Seventy four percent of families who receive services at Village of Hope leave with safe, secure housing. When families are safe and secure, children go to school and parents go to work.
The barriers to providing an emergency shelter are numerous, and due to current state and federal budget cuts, the funding sources are limited. In 2019, Village of Hope served a total of 162 people, 82 of which, were children. Unfortunately, due to limited space and resources, they had to turn away 318 people.
Village of Hope was instrumental in developing and providing the Getting Ahead-Bemidji class, which is based on research from ‘Bridges Out Of Poverty’. Getting Ahead-Bemidji is a collaboration between the Village of Hope and St. Vincent de Paul, and is a 16-week workshop that provides a meal as well as trained volunteers to mentor families. Mentors assist economically-vulnerable families in developing life skills, connecting with community resources, nurturing and supporting their children and helping overcome the enormous stress and challenges of homelessness. When families are housed and self-sufficient, it benefits the entire community.
For members wishing to learn more about Village of Hope, visit their website at https:\\www.villageofhopebemidji.org or find them on Facebook at Village of Hope Ours to Service House of Hospitality.
The Village of Hope application will be submitted for consideration to the statewide Minnesota Touchstone Energy® Community Award committee. The statewide award recipient will be selected from numerous local award winners throughout Minnesota and the overall winner will receive $1,000 toward a community cause of choice. It will be presented in February 2020 during the Minnesota Rural Electric Association’s annual meeting in St. Paul.
Photo: Accepting the local 2019 Touchstone Energy® Community Award for Village of Hope is Executive Director Sandy Hennum and Village of Hope Advocate Jaime Cronemiller.