We undoubtedly all have community interests and social concerns that tug at us emotionally and, hopefully, move us to action. The Community Fund Drive organizers this year are encouraging us to share those interests. Hopefully, through these personal stories, we learn more about the needs of our community and the ways in which we can make a difference.
My donation to the Community Fund Drive each year is designated for Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless¸ a St. Paul-based organization with a 25 year history in our area. My concerns about hunger and homelessness have become more informed over time, particularly as our daughter worked in a homeless shelter for mentally ill women in the Los Angeles area - an area with one of the largest homeless populations in the U.S. Her first-hand stories and data about this acute problem have heightened my awareness of these significant issues of hunger and homelessness.
The warm climate of California is a far cry from Minnesota's more brutal weather. The Minneapolis-St Paul area ranks 23rd in homeless populations in a recent report on the 100 highest populated metropolitan areas. According to Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless: One in 10 Minnesotans relied on a food shelf in 2010 and over 13,000 people are homeless in Minnesota on any given night. Children are hit the hardest: half of food shelf visitors and more than a third of people who are homeless in our state are under 18.
My 2012 pledge will again support Open Your Heart. On a personal note, I'm so very proud that our daughter continues to work with homeless populations, but now as a medical school student here in Minnesota.