Thousands of Interfaith Outreach volunteers have helped individuals in our community find hope. You have the power to change the odds for families and kids, too. We all do.
Community leaders Rima and Erik Torgerson are passionate supporters of the Great Expectations Initiative. We asked them what fuels their commitment to setting all our kids on a path to success.
Erik remembers having role models shape his thinking as a child. “My high school basketball coach had a big impression on me. He taught me how to set goals and stay focused on them. With the help of Great Expectations, that opportunity – to set and achieve goals – can be available for everyone.” Rima has volunteered countless hours on behalf of young people at Interfaith Outreach and in Wayzata Public Schools. “We don’t want any kids to be forgotten and left out. We are so fortunate to be in school districts that are really prioritizing excellence for each and every kid.”
Erik says, “It’s in all of our best interest to make sure all kids in our community have access to resources so they can set goals and have the best chance possible of achieving them. We hope and believe that Great Expectations is bringing these resources to kids and can reach as many young people as possible.”
“The importance of cradle-to-career support is based in research and outcome studies,” Rima reminds us. “What we do for kids today pays off for the entire community, and it pays off in big ways.”
Nicole’s rent was high. Everything was expensive – things were tight. She used the Interfaith Outreach Food Shelf, the Holiday Gift Program at Christmas time, the Back-to-School program, and occasionally, financial help to pay the rent. Interfaith Family Support staff helped her think about bigger changes and opportunities to increase her stability. But a car accident, the high cost of child care and other circumstances derailed her progress.
She got into Project Success – our rigorous, two-year transitional housing and career development program – with the goal of pursuing a college degree and a career in education. She says that once she had stable housing, a support network and a plan, her hope for a better future grew.
Today, Nicole has a master’s degree in educational leadership and works as a student services coordinator. “I love my work,” she says. “I’m passionate about the power of education because I know the difference it has made for me and is also making for my daughter.” Kayla, who was supported with child care assistance, our Homework Club and summer camp program over the years, will graduate from high school next spring and plans to go to college.
Nicole tells us, “If I had the opportunity to talk with someone in the position I once found myself in, I would say to them, ‘Know that your current situation is not your final destination … Look for positive community connections and build a support system. Work really hard, and be patient, because it’s happened. It’s happening right now.”
Brittany and her 5-year-old son moved into their new home thanks to supporters like you. For her and thousands of others, Interfaith Outreach staff like Emily Adams provide a beacon of hope.
Growing up in the Wayzata area, Brittany spent most of her teenage years in foster care. “It was difficult to find a way to belong,” she said. “When I came to Interfaith Outreach, my case manager Emily helped me work around obstacles and find resources I couldn’t have found on my own.” Brittany stretched her budget while using the Food Shelf. But, when she was approved as a resident of Medina Townhomes, an affordable housing neighborhood, the huge life changes began. Brittany worked with Emily to connect to the proper school support services for her young child and to furnish their first home. As soon as her son settles into kindergarten, Brittany is determined to work with the Employment team at Interfaith Outreach to continue to pursue her career. “I love to cook – eventually I’d like to get into the catering business.” For Brittany, a place to call home is just the beginning.
“Interfaith does an amazing job of bringing all the aspects of a community together in one place. My single mother struggled with illness when I was a child and was unable to work. We came to Interfaith Outreach for assistance with food, clothing and housing. I have many fond childhood memories of Interfaith Outreach. The highlight of our year was going to the Christmas party where my sister and I each received a big bag of toys. Today, I feel fortunate to be able to give back. In a way, Interfaith Outreach acts as an insurance policy for the community. If you’re struggling, you can go there,” Zoe Swanson said. “And if you are abundant in resources, you can go to Interfaith Outreach to donate, volunteer and help other people who are struggling.” – Zoe Swanson
“LaDonna Hoy got me hooked,” donor and volunteer Bob Fisher (Shoebob Fisher) says. “She dreams the hard dreams and believes they can become reality. Her sincerity and vision assured me that Interfaith Outreach would not let anyone fall through the cracks.” The goal of the annual Sleep Out is simple: to raise awareness that the threat of homelessness exists in our community and get people involved to prevent it from happening. “I’ve been moved to tears by the sacrifice and generosity of our community. We’ve tapped into something special here – let’s hold onto it.”
Olive, a wonderful mom who has used our services says, “Interfaith Outreach has been my backup and my resource toolbox to help me and my family through the hard times. While my daughter and son were in youth programs, I worked on finding a job, securing affordable housing and creating a personal action plan. Today, I am finishing a degree and starting a career as a registered nurse. Interfaith Outreach helped put a spark in my kids’ eyes. I am truly thankful for discovering and utilizing the programs Interfaith Outreach offers!”
“Good morning,” volunteers offer a smile as guests walk in, “How are you today?” Program participants experience the energy of radical hospitality as the kindness of Interfaith Outreach volunteers welcome them every day. Julie Faxvog, one of the front desk smiling faces, recalls, “One time there was an older Vietnam veteran with a physical disability. Then, right after him, a young man who was also in the military walked in. While they waited in the food shelf line, they connected and a healing conversation happened. That is the magic of Interfaith Outreach. It is all about the relationships.”