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January 17th, 2018

 

Dear Editor:

As Family Pathways begins its New Year of service in our communities, we find ourselves reflecting upon the organization’s development in 2017 to meet the ever growing challenges of a diverse, rural, and small town geography.  We work on behalf of the 250,000 people in six counties of Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. You support us with your donations and volunteerism.  We want to continue to deserve your trust and generosity.

 

The four main programs of Family Pathways all grew this year resulting in greater and additional service to many more of you and your neighbors. In the fall of 2017 Hunger Relief started the backpack program in Rush City and Chisago Lakes providing children with a backpack containing well-balanced meals for the weekend; this allows them nutritional food on the weekends until school starts back up on Monday. This was just one small addition to the support you gave to over 17,272 individuals needing food and supplies to help them make it through a tough time.  Of those served, 48% came to one of our food shelves once or twice during the year, telling us that the supportive Hunger Relief program is a true hand-up to those in need. Those families in generational poverty who use the food shelves more regularly amount to only 10% of the use.

 

The Refuge Network and Shelter had a 31% increase of women and children seeking help in 2017. Community resources assisted 1,563 people who suffered domestic violence and its effects. Thanks to so many community members who are always quick to volunteer to decrease the impact of violence in our neighborhoods.

 

Youth Services welcomed 1,012 youth at all three locations: North Branch, Forest Lake, and Princeton. 483 new youth joined the teen centers this past year. An increase in youth called for more caring volunteers who gave 3,992 hours of their time helping kids in our communities with homework, job skills, and encouragement.

 

Aging Services added two new amenities to help our aging neighbors live well and remain in their homes as long as they are able. Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health (REACH) and the Reflections Memory program are helping our parents and grandparents age with dignity and respect. Once again, helping more seniors requires more volunteers and you responded with volunteers donating 3,209 hours of time.

 

The ten Family Pathways thrift stores scattered around our region provided over 100 jobs, gave people a chance to recycle and reuse, kept 2.9 million pounds of material out of our land-fills and provided thousands of dollars for support of the human services mentioned above. In spring of 2018 another thrift store located in Ham Lake, Minnesota will be opened.

 

This leads to our community donors- without you, none of the above would be possible. Last year, community contributions provided assistance to 22,453 men, women, and children. Whether you made a financial contribution, donated your gently used items to Family Pathways’ thrift stores, or gave the gift of your time through volunteering, THANK YOU! We appreciate your trust and belief in our mission; you are truly the fuel to our fire that warms many families along the pathways of our communities.

 

 

 

Reid A. Zimmerman PhD, CFRE

Interim Executive Director

 

Featured in the Mille Lacs Messenger on January 24th, 2017