For more than 23 years, Project Home has provided overnight shelter for area families facing homelessness in partnership with dozens of area churches, synagogues, and schools. St. John’s has been one of those partners for a number of years, always opening our doors in the month of February to host our neighbors in need.
In the midst of this pandemic crisis, those needs are greater than ever. This year, St. John’s will be playing a different role in serving the guests at Project Home. For the month of February, we will provide a served dinner each Sunday of the month. Additionally, we hope to provide funds for a delivered dinner each Saturday by a local restaurant. We will also be providing activity bags for kids each week. This is a great opportunity for different groups within our community —House Groups, Choir, Youth Group, etc. — to organize around arranging a meal or serving.
We are the first church to be supporting Project Home in this manner, so we can expect some hiccups. But what we learn will be incredibly helpful to others as they pick up the mantle in March and the months going forward. Since this is a new effort, our St. John’s Project Home team will test out the process on January 31 with a meal, to help inform operations for the rest of February.
New Project Home Set-Up and Location: Over the past several months, Project Home has been partnering with Hotel 340 to house the families. This location offers access to a commercial kitchen and large dining area to serve the families at separate and distanced tables. Each night of the weekend, there are around 20 to 25 guests.
Ways You Can Help:
1) Dinner Prep Point Person (1 person for each Sunday dinner),
2) Onsite Server (4 persons for each Sunday),
3) Dinner Prep Support as needed
4) Activity Bag Coordinator (1 person per week)
5) Help fund our work!
Details about each role can be found below. As with previous years, there is a Sign-Up Genius page for the volunteer work; click here to sign up for a slot.
Fund Our Work: With the need to support Saturday deliveries and supplies for our Sunday meal service, you can also support our work by providing funding.
- Click Here to Give Online(choose “Project Home”) in the Funds drop-down
- You can also give by text: Text 651-273-0753 with the amount you’d like to give and where you’d like the funds to go; i.e. “$50 ProjectHome.”
- With the need to get funds available for dinners at the start of the month, and the current slowness of postal deliveries and pickups, we strongly recommend online donations. If you need to mail in a check or cash donation, however, please mark it “Project Home” and send to 60 North Kent Street, Saint Paul MN 55102.
If you would like your funds to support a particular local restaurant in supplying food, contact Don Weinkauf to see how this might fit in with either the Saturday or Sunday meal plans.
If you have questions about the various roles or support options, please reach out to Don Weinkauf at [email protected] or 651-332-1081.
Dinner Prep Point Person: This one person will take the lead on coordinating the dinner providing the menu, Prep Support assignments, restaurant ordering, etc. to provide the entire meal. The person will be the single point of contact for Don Weinkauf to coordinate the timing and delivery with the Onsite Server team. Don can supply suggestions for menus as well as local restaurants that could supply prepared food for serving. For example, the Dinner Prep Point Person could prepare the main course for 20 to 25 people, assign a House Group member to prep a vegetable/salad, ask a Prep Support volunteer to bake bread, and identify a local restaurant to supply a dessert. (Or any combination of the above.) The delivery and pick-up can then be coordinated with Don. Funding will also be available (see below) for groceries or purchasing food from a local restaurant.
On-Site Servers: On every Sunday evening that we serve, 4 Onsite Server volunteers are needed for about 2 hours in the kitchen and event space at Hotel 340. Starting at 4:30, we will set up the tables and kitchen, warm the food, and serve the guests. Only disposable utensils and plates will be used. Serving, dining, and clean up should end by 6:30pm. We will follow the distancing, serving and dining protocols mandated by the State.
Dinner Prep Support: These are folks willing to help cook and prepare part of the menu as needed and assigned. This is a flexible role with opportunities to provide your specialty like side dishes, baking bread or supplying dessert. In the Sign-Up section, please add comments about your availability to support any specific Sundays along with any cooking specialties. As the menus develop, the Dinner Prep Point person or Don Weinkauf will follow up with you about an assignment.
Activity Bag Coordinator: This 1 person each week will be in charge of coming up with an idea for the activity bags, getting them filled, and delivering them to Hotel 340 on Sunday at 4:30pm. There will probably be about 10 bags to fill each week (the Project Home staff will provide an exact number weekly). This is a great opportunity for families with kids to involve everyone in the family, or to pair with two or three other St. John’s households to put it all together. Ellie Watkins is coordinating this part of the month and can answer any questions at 651-357-8578 or [email protected]