BLACF’s support for My Neighbor to Love Coalition (MNTLC), homes for the homeless initiative was brought to their attention during a community-wide convening to address homelessness. Because of funding cuts the only option, Interfaith Caregivers, had discontinued services. Discussions around both short- and longer-term solutions were held. Bridges of Hope, a local faith-based nonprofit (that has an Agency Fund with BLACF) took the lead on a short-term solution (supported with a BLACF grant) leading to the opening of a Warming Center this winter that operates between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., November through March.
While the Warming Center addressed an immediate need, it was somewhat of a “band-aid” for the issue of homelessness, and doesn’t do anything to change conditions “up-stream.” That is where Vicky Kinney and MNTLC stepped in and took the lead on the longer term solution, a village of small homes, that would provide stable homes for individuals and families that could be permanent as long as they follow the rules of tenancy.
The village is modeled after a project in Austin, TX, that provides housing, support services; such as mental health and chemical dependency counseling, support groups, and job training; and actual entrepreneurial micro-business startups, including on-site markets for grown or made products. Using a strength-based model, residents’ unique gifts and interests are uncovered, developed, and mentored to lead them to a greater sense of self-worth, self-dependency, and dignity.
In the foundation’s latest grant-making round, they awarded MNTLC a Difference-Maker grant of $25,000 (most grants are $15,000 or less). They also set up a meeting between Ms. Kinney and Congressman Stauber’s staff for inclusion in the next Federal Budget for significant Community-Based funding (earmark).
Finally, in 2015, BLACF made a three-year grant to the City of Brainerd to complete planning and seek funding for a Mississsippi Riverfront Park. In the previous legislative session, $2.85M was approved from LCMR Funds to construct the Park. Ground was broken on June 6th and the park should be complete this year. This was another BLACF Difference-Maker Grant that will indeed, make a difference.