Project Home: 2020 July Social Action Highlight



There is exciting news for Project Home families. St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the Project Home families will be moving into a downtown St. Paul Hotel. (St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 11, 2020 by Frederick Melo)

“John and Stephanie Rupp openly acknowledge their stately downtown St. Paul hotel and athletic club has struggled during the pandemic, and even before it.
Months before the health crisis, the Rupps had considered partnering with a nonprofit and converting at least part of the 13story structure into a community center, or selling the century old building and its boutique hotel outright. Those plans, however, never included sheltering homeless children. On Friday, that changed. Under an agreement brokered through Ramsey County and Interfaith Action’s Project Home, two of the hotel’s three levels will now house 22 home-less families that had been spending their nights sleeping in churches.
In materials shared with hotel guests and athletic club members, the Rupps noted that 23 of the 34 homeless individuals that are moving in are kids. The first nine families began arriving Friday, and another 13 families will join them in coming weeks.”

Read more about the arrangement between Ramsey County, the 340 Hotel and Project Home at this link.

Project Home is an effort of Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul which works in cooperation with 40 St. Paul area churches to provide overnight housing for families experiencing homelessness. During the daytime hours, children are in schools and parents attend school, training, assistive appointments, counseling with a goal of achieving permanent employment and housing. Read more about Project Home at Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul

What You Can Do

Donate during WBUUC’s Project Home Highlight Week (July 19-26, 2020). Make checks payable to WBUUC for Project Home or indicate Project Home when giving electronically. WBUUC will mail a check to Project Home.
This Highlight Week donation will support Project Home to assist families with educational supplies, food, transportation as well as helping them with personal expenses.

Welcome Baskets from WBUUC for new families are needed. As the new families are entered into the Project Home program, they will be given baskets of goodies. This is to encourage self-isolating in their rooms. Items needed are age appropriate books, family and/or children’s games, family-friendly movies. None of these need to be new so we could collect things people are willing to share OR volunteers can choose to buy new items. The baskets can also include music, snacks or other creative activities to do while isolated. We would get a list of family members names and ages so they can be age appropriate and personal.

If you would like to coordinate this effort, let Sue Will or Margie Schmidt know. If we can get a coordinator, we can enlist other volunteers for basket item donation and prepping.

2019 History with Project Home

WBUUC has a long commitment to Project Home. In September 2019, 111 WBUUC volunteers participated in the 10th year of providing shelter, snacks, company, homework help, game playing, football tossing, discussion, caring, baby holding, providing a safe place and so much more to our Project Home families. In that month we served a total of 9 families experiencing homelessness, which totaled 27 people including mothers with children and grandmothers with grandchildren. The daily attendance capacity was 20 people. Project Home requires a significant effort by our community and includes considerable space. Thank you, Anna, for the facility support and thank you Amy and the RE staff for allowing our classrooms to become bedrooms. It also requires refrigerator/freezer/kitchen space, extra custodial services (thank you John and Connie), support from our ministerial team (thank you Victoria, Sara and Jack) and certainly a huge volunteer corp.

In addition, 16 volunteers from Stillwater Presbyterian Church, Stillwater, provided coverage every Thursday evening. We appreciate the interfaith partnering with this congregation.

Thank you all for your service to families in need, from the Project Home Coordinating Team: Jack Gaede, Bob Gagner, Jillian Lampert, Margie Schmidt, Sue Will

In March 2020, when COVID-19 pandemic rules to mitigate transmission of the virus occurred, Project Home families stayed at the First Baptist Church, downtown St. Paul and did not go to the volunteer churches. The First Baptist Church has been the families’ daytime location for access to school, appointments, work and other activities. The conditions were quite crowded in this church for overnight use. Sleeping space was on a gymnasium floor with air mattresses and cardboard dividers for social distancing and privacy. The news that the families will now have hotel rooms with comfortable beds is most exciting. Ramsey County signed a contract for this hotel space until July 2021.