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New Beacon board chair has hope to end homelessness
August 16, 2016

By Deb Carlson  |  As the new board chair of Beacon, I am overwhelmed by the differences we make every day in the lives of our neighbors here in Minnesota. Lee Mauk recently wrote about the incredible accomplishments he has seen in his 10 years on Beacon’s board, and I am convinced Beacon will continue to be a big part of ending homelessness in the Twin Cities over the next 10 years. 

I had the opportunity to volunteer overnight recently at my church during our Families Moving Forward hosting weeks. I sat on the couch with one of the moms as she corralled and watched over her 10 children who were playing, reading and laughing all around us. She and her husband had been in the FMF program for over a month, and both had jobs but just couldn’t find safe and affordable housing for their family. And it was a wonderful family, ranging from small to large. She cried as she talked about all the volunteers she had met in the congregations and the unconditional support she had received from volunteers and the Beacon staff. She told me that the friends she had made and the love she felt had changed her and her family forever.

I am so proud of the work that Beacon does, the impact we make in our community and the changes that take place every day in the futures of many in need. We are all part of an organization that will see the end of homelessness in Minnesota in our lifetimes, I am convinced of that. Our focus on shelter, supportive housing and advocacy is the right formula to do the work to make homelessness a problem of the past, not the future.  

So how are we going to make this happen?  

  • In the next year, the board will take a deeper look at our strategic planning for the next 5 years to ensure we’re doing the right work to accomplish our goals. Vice-Chair Pete Cochrane is heading up that effort.  
  • We’ll continue to build deep relationships with volunteer leaders and our stakeholders who generously share their time and money.  
  • We’ll add congregations to host our emergency shelter program in Scott, Carver and Hennepin Counties.
  • We'll move forward to open Prior Crossing soon and 66 West next year, to secure funding for Great River Landing – and to plan and develop the next round of supportive housing with our Beacon congregations. 
  • Our Beacon Citizens will advocate for more attention to solutions to end homelessness and additional funding for this good work.

We can get all this done because of the amazing Beacon staff and the remarkable support of all the Beacon volunteers who make this happen. On behalf of the Beacon board, you have our thanks and our gratitude.   

Pictured above: Deb and her family after speaking at a Beacon fundraising event about their volunteer involvement with our Families Moving Forward program.

Deb Carlson
Deb Carlson is director of brokerage services for Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq and a longtime Families Moving Forward host with her congregation, St. Joseph the Worker in Maple Grove.