Rooted In Home

Dylan Novacek August 21, 2020

Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist

“When someone loses their home, they lose their roots,” Rabbi Sim Glaser of Temple Israel in Minneapolis insisted. “They lose their soul’s very nourishment. Their future remains uncertain.”

Gathering digitally from the comfort of our homes, our collaborative proudly introduced Emerson Village, which will offer family supportive housing to about 50 families in North Minneapolis. As leaders and supporters shared their stories, the theme became clear: home is where we lay down our roots.

While Rabbi Glaser was visiting his grandchildren in Connecticut, Hurricane Isaias stormed by. Walking around after the storm, he laid his eyes on a massive tree that had been uprooted.

“Deep roots are so critical to the life of a tree,” he reflected. “No matter how grand the tree, the shallow roots betray it…. We should all have the chance to lay down solid roots to grow tall and proud.”

For some members of our Beacon collaborative, those roots run deeply in the heart of North Minneapolis. With a desire to invest in the communities they love so dearly, supporters like Robin Gonzales of Wayman African Methodist Episcopal (AME) hope to plant the seeds for Emerson Village. Robin has called the Northside her home since February of 1965.

“I grew up on the Northside with a life full of friends,” she beamed. “My first job was through the Neighborhood Youth Corp at the Pilot City Health Center on the corner of 14th and Penn Ave N. I went to high school at North High where I shared my first kiss.”

She smiled as she recounted memories of attending Wayman AME back when their congregation worshiped out of a basement apartment in a duplex. Singing her first solo in the church choir at age eight, she is proud of her roots.

“My rooted experiences at home, school, and church have helped make me the awesome Northside women I am today,” she exclaimed. “I pray that those who find themselves at Emerson Village will also find fertile ground to stand on. I hope they will be able to plant life’s seeds that will root with love, joy and memories to share for years to come.”

Emerson Village aims to be a home where families can grow and thrive. The unfortunate reality is there simply aren’t enough homes like this in the Twin Cities.

“I am impatient and kind of mad that we are still in the place we are,” remarked Charlotte Kinzley of St. Joan of Arch Church in Minneapolis. Working as the Homeless and Highly Mobile Manager for the Minneapolis school district, Charlotte points to the dire impacts homelessness has on our youth.

“Over 2,300 students in Minneapolis have experienced homelessness in the last year. And those are just the students we were able to identify,” she explained. “The neighborhood around Emerson Village sees 10-30 percent of students experiencing homelessness in the last year alone. We know far too much about the development of our youth to allow this to happen.”

At Beacon, we understand how the gift of stable housing improves our communities. Supportive housing is a tangible, daily example of the world as it should be. It’s not only the smart thing to do but it’s the right thing to do.

It takes a seed of $15,000 for each of the 52 homes we want to create at Emerson Village to become a reality. As Beacon aims to double the amount of our homes, the power and support of those at the Emerson Village launch event is vital.

“When you have a home, you can create stability,” said Beacon CEO/President Lee Blons. “Home is foundational to justice, to well-being, to possibility – to life.”

Listen to Lee Blons introduce Emerson Village here.

Although we are meeting online, the energy of the launch event was powerful as ever. With over 150 attendees, and a congregational rollcall that highlighted the power of our faith communities, we all took a step toward the vision that all people have a home.

Among those in attendance was Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison. Jeremiah celebrated how lucky we are to create homes for those with the greatest need. As a lifelong Minneapolis resident, he too takes pride in his roots and his community.

Listen to Jeremiah’s remarks from the Emerson Village launch here:

“Stabilizing people in their housing is not a burden. We should be honored to do such a thing,” he said with confidence in our shared Beacon mission.

“In a time of disruption and anxiety, these homes can offer stability,” added Lee. “Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can provide rich soil and room for roots to grow.”

We are taking bold steps in our Beacon mission. Aiming to introduce 1,000 new people to our collaborative by June of next year, we need you to help plant the seed for Beacon’s future. Join us and invite a friend to Beacon Now. All September long Beacon Now will focus on Emerson Village. E-mail Craig Freeman to learn more.

Read Lee Blon’s remarks on introducing Emerson Village here.