The signs of spring are all around the Redeemer campus: neighborhood kids are eagerly making use of the backyard after a long winter; Venture North is becoming a hub of bike-centered hustle and bustle; and the rapidly growing seedlings for our urban farm are waiting to be planted in the earth. The time of summer camps, cookouts, and communal bike rides is fast approaching.
More than ever, this summer will see the strengthened bond between a church and her non-profit. Our integrated staff is working on programming ranging from Urban VBS, to our six weeks of summer camp, to a youth Texas immersion experience. As we combine our efforts to best serve North Minneapolis youth, I am asking you to consider financially supporting summertime at Redeemer. Here is a glimpse of what your dollars can work towards this summer:
The upcoming summer weather makes it an ideal time to connect with young people and their families through cookouts and camps. The kids who come through our programs this summer will experience more than community; they will glimpse a greater vision of their own futures than they previously had imagined. As always, I invite you to come visit our community: join us for worship, weekly cookouts, or just stop by the bike shop for a tune-up or coffee. Again, thank you for your continued support.
Even though the sub-zero temperatures outside have locked down traffic and kept folks indoors, things are heating up at Venture North.
Venture North was recently selected to receive $25,000 in Community Engagement Innovation funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. This support will enable Venture North to distribute 150 bikes through our Earn-a-Bike program within the next ve months.
Our Earn-a-Bike program caters to youth aged 9-14. After one 5-hour class about bike safety and repair, participants leave Venture North with their very own bike. Many of the bikes that Venture North gives out are donated to the shop, but they still require staff time and parts to ensure that they are in working condition when it’s time for the kids to ride them home. This grant allows Venture North to cover the average $50 cost for each bike distributed through the program as well as hiring a high school-aged youth to help promote the program and get more local kids involved with Venture North. In addition to increasing the capacity of our Earn-a-Bike program, Venture North has expanded our coffee bar hours. Now customers can stop by as early as 7 am for an espresso on their way to work. Our new barista, Casey Skeide, is largely responsible for this expansion. A graduate of St. Olaf College, Casey lives to educate and inspire. As Youth Entrepreneurship Manager at Venture North, Casey is implementing “The Art of Being a Barista and Entrepreneur,” a program he developed that includes topics like: the history of the coffee industry, retail psychology, and community engagement. In addition to learning the science of bike repair, area youth will soon be able to invest themselves in the art of barista skills.
Despite the cold and ice, Venture North's coffee business and number of Earn-a-Bike participants are both steadily picking up. We can't even wait to see how busy we'll be come spring!
Even though the temperatures outside have plummeted, Redeemer Center is busier than ever: our youth programs are thriving, our housing is at capacity, and Venture North Bike Shop is filled with customers and apprentice mechanics. Here are a few snapshots of life at Redeemer this winter:
In December, Redeemer held its annual Christmas store. 120 kids lined up to purchase gifts for 25 cents each for their friends and families. The day included an open mic featuring the incredible talent of our youth; a bicycle-rinding Santa; dozens of high school elves to help kids shop; and a busy workshop of present-wrapping. Dozens upon dozens of volunteers from Redeemer's partner congregations showed up to experience the infectious joy of children who find just the right gift for a loved one. E.J, one of our after school program kids, embodied that joy and excitement. “Put the perfume in that pink bag because it’s for my mom,” he excitedly told a volunteer who helped him wrap his gifts. “And that football is for my brother, so make sure it’s wrapped in red or blue.” E.J could barely contain himself as he left Redeemer into the winter snow holding his newly purchased gifts.
Venture North is also in the spirit of giving. Within the next 6 months, Venture north will hold a record-breaking 19 Earn-a-Bike classes to distribute 150 free bikes to local kids! Participants spend a 5 hour session learning about bicycle safety and repair. At the end of the session, kids are rewarded for their hard work with a free bike!
The 15 members of the Northside Leadership Project have weathered their first few months at Redeemer splendidly and are already valued members of our community. Joe Davis, our poet-in-residence and youth staff member, moved here from Minot, North Dakota in October. Even though he had never lived away from home before, he jumped right into things at Redeemer, performing at open mics, recruiting kids for our programming, and helping out with the after school program. (Check out the youtube link below to see the commercial for Venture North that he made with the kids!) When asked how he has been impacted by Redeemer, Joe explains, ”I have gained a greater appreciation for diversity and the sharing of different values and perspectives. I've also experienced affirmation about my vocation, propose, and passion, as they all are becoming increasingly one and the same. “
And so in these dark months, Redeemer continues to shine as a beacon of hope to our neighbors. And our neighbors reflect that light back to us as they engage in our expansive community that welcomes all as they are.
This month, Redeemer celebrates the kickoff of the Northside Leadership Project. With 24 housing units, Redeemer is moving beyond simply providing affordable housing for those in need. Beginning in August, Redeemer welcomed a dozen new young adults to the Harrison neighborhood to serve as leaders in the community. The Northside Leadership Project's mission is to unleash young people to share their unique gifts and passions, to organize for change in their communities, and to live out a strong commitment to racial equity. We so strongly believe in the importance of living in community with those we work with, that these young folks uprooted themselves and moved into the neighborhood. That is a passionate kind of committment. But these young adults aren't here to simply live in the neighborhood; they each serve in a range of projects hosted by Redeemer. Here are just some of the ways that these young folks are engaging in the community:
The Northside Leadership Project is not about one-sided service; as our young leaders live and work in the neighborhood, they are supported by the reciprocal relationships that this community provides. An inspiring testament to the impact of the project is Trevon Thomson, a recent graduate from North Community High School in North Minneapolis. Three years ago, after his previous church closed, he became involved with Redeemer through the Redeemer After School Program and the Redeemer JUMP Crew, a hip-hop performing arts ensemble. This year he started working at Venture North Bike Walk & Coffee as an apprentice barista and bike mechanic. While helping construct Redeemer's affordable housing duplex, Trevon became interested in pursuing college and work in mechanical engineering or construction. The Northside Leadership Project is an important first stepping-stone for Trevon to achieve those goals. “It’s gonna be a lot of responsibility, living on my own,” he said. But he also recognizes that he will be supported in taking on this challenge through the Northside Leadership Project, explaining, “I’m looking forward to meeting all the new people who will live here this year.” Trevon is ready to develop the next generation of young leaders in the neighborhood through the apprentice program at Venture North and the Redeemer JUMP Crew, “so that it continues for a long time.”
To help continue Redeemer's work with the Northside Leadership Project, consider giving a donation. Your money will go towards the after school program's operational costs as well as subsidizing housing so that these young adults can pour themselves into the community with a smaller finicial burden.
As always, peace to you from the Redeemer community!
We're enjoying a beautiful, fun-filled summer in the Harrison Neighborhood! Thank you for taking the time to catch up with us. Over the past few months, Redeemer Center for Life (RCFL) has worked in partnership with Redeemer Lutheran Church and Venture North Bike & Coffee Shop to create some great youth opportunities. Here are some highlights from our most recent adventures:
This has been a time of growth and renewal in our community. As we've watched our garden thrive, we've also had the privilege of watching young people grow their talents and uncover new strengths. In supporting RCFL, you have been an integral part of making this possible. Thank you. With your help, we can continue empowering and inspiring local youth.
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