Connecting Home and Community

Dan Gregory February 14, 2020

“I’d be lost if I didn’t have a place to call home. It leads to so many other possibilities – everything is connected to home!”

For Shakopee resident Julie Welch, home isn’t just about your address and what color the paint is on the walls. Home is about relationships. It’s building trust and growing as a person with others. Home means connection.

“I love being a networker,” she laughs. “Connecting people to one another brings me deep joy.”

“When I was growing up, I worked at the local grocery store [in Shakopee], so I knew everyone. You got to build connections, little moments together. You came to care about these people because you saw them and could talk with them.”

It was a connection that brought Beacon onto Julie’s radar. “I was invited to attend a luncheon supporting the shelter program, and I was intrigued by what I heard,” she says, a smile forming at one side of her mouth. “And I continued to be intrigued.”

Having lived around Shakopee her entire life, Julie knew many families in her community struggled. She saw it at the other nonprofits where she volunteered. She knew of members of her own parish who had difficulty making ends meet. And through Beacon, she found a way to connect so many of the dots.

“People need emergency shelter. People need a place to call their own. I knew this, and I knew this was important. But what I’ve seen through Beacon is just how important it is for people to have access to support services.”

“My husband and daughter are members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, so when there was the crisis at The Wall [of Forgotten Natives], I knew I had to do something.” Julie drove to downtown Minneapolis where the encampment of people experiencing homelessness – primarily members of the Native community – was growing. She paid for a hotel room for a family, making sure they weren’t sleeping out in the cold. “But without the support services they really needed, they weren’t able to stabilize. They needed a hand getting over the hurdles.” A deep sigh grounds the moment. “As an individual, on my own, I could only help so much.”

It’s why Julie gives to Beacon and connects others to our vision. “When I toured 66 West [supportive housing for young adults in Edina], it was confirmation that Beacon is everything they say they are. I like that Beacon gives people space to grow. I like supporting an organization that really looks at the whole person and meets them where they’re at.”

“Housing can bring people into shared understanding,” Julie exclaims. “What brings people together better than a shared project?”

Through her gift to Beacon, Julie can expand her circle of connection even farther. “When I see congregations in Belle Plaine coming together to host families [experiencing homelessness], I see a great network of support. Watching people share a dinner together, watching them build those little moments of connection – I get to be part of that!”

And she’s thrilled that gifts like hers are making it possible for Beacon to create Prairie Pointe in Shakopee, supportive housing for families right in her community. “Beacon recognizes the need to build out this way! We know families are struggling everywhere. I know we need Prairie Pointe and more apartments like it so people can form community, can find connection.”

“A friend was telling me how they went for a bike ride in downtown Shakopee, along the river, and saw people camping. Right here in this community we grew up in, that we knew and loved, and there were people who didn’t have a home,” she pauses, reliving the impact the experience had on her friend. “It was the first time she realized there was homelessness in Shakopee.”

Julie, ever the networker, ever the connector, shared with her friend about Beacon.

“I can’t refute the progress Beacon has made and continues to make. And I want more people to feel connected to that progress every day.”

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