EVENTS AND ENGAGEMENTS
Giving Trees Are Calling!
St. Olaf Giving Trees are decorated at the parking lot and skyway entrances with ornaments featuring a variety of options for helping those in need this holiday season. Suggested gift items for guests of Samaritan Ministry and residents of Exodus are available. Items need to be returned by DECEMBER 13. This act of service is fun for individuals, families, workplace departments. Thank you for your participation!
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
— Matthew 11:28 (NRSV)
The Exodus Residence is a home to 95 single men and women in need of low cost and supportive housing. It meets the critical need of low cost housing for persons who have experienced homelessness. St. Olaf owns the 8-story building, which is located next to the church on 2nd Ave. and 9th St., and Catholic Charities manages the group residential housing and support services.
Clients in the Exodus health-supported program receive intensive nursing care coordination to work towards health care stabilization. Priority is given to homeless individuals from Hennepin Health and North Memorial Hospital, those who are aged 55 or older, and those experiencing acute/chronic health issues. The residents work toward permanent housing by using the site’s services. Residents establish a rental history and can stay in the program for up to two years. Services provided at Exodus include:
- empowerment groups
- intensive assistance in meeting goals
- counseling services
- a nurse on staff 5 days a week
- referrals to community services
- a computer lab
Some of the Exodus residents are also parishioners and volunteers who care for the garden in Assisi Park, which is next door to Exodus.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Over the years St. Olaf volunteers have helped to maintain the building and offer support to the residents and staff. Past projects included: cleaning and painting 95 resident rooms, starting a computer lab, teaching computer classes, serving weekday meals and mentoring residents.
St. Olaf’s commitment to providing shelter to the homeless and developing friendships is a reflection of the parish mission “to serve as a living sign of Christ’s saving presence in the heart of the city.”
St. Olaf serves and fosters relationships with residents through:
Monthly Dinner and Hospitality Volunteers: prepare and serve a home cooked meal at Exodus the third Sunday of each month, October through May, 3:00 to 6:30 pm. Offer hospitality and play bingo. Contact Margaret Lauer at 763-559-2102 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas Giving and Party Volunteers: plan, coordinate or participate in Christmas gift giving, party and dinner for the residents. 2-6 hours during late November to mid-December.
Exodus Leadership Team Members: plan, coordinate and support volunteer opportunities with Exodus residents.
Computer Tutors and/or Special Social Events: teach basic computer skills, assist with resume writing, online job and housing searches. Help with special social events, such as book club, bingo, view and discuss films. Contact Joan Miltenberger at 612-767-6211 or jmiltenberger@SaintOlaf.org.
Other Exodus Volunteer Opportunities: contact Brett Zimowicz, Catholic Charities Volunteer Services Specialist, at 612-204-8360 or email@example.com.
BEGINNINGS AND HISTORY
In 1992, St. Olaf pastor Monsignor Francis Fleming purchased the Mahala Fisk Pillsbury Club building behind the church on Second Avenue. The Women’s Christian Association operated the building as a women’s residence from 1956 to 1992. The timing of the parish purchase was perfect.
A few months before the purchase, “the University of St. Thomas was dealing with public reaction to the conversion of a building on its downtown Minneapolis campus from affordable housing to university offices. The building in question, known as the Exodus Hotel, served as a residence for about 90 people.
Given the acute shortage of affordable housing in the city, the prospect of losing this facility was understandably disturbing. Fr. John Forliti, then Vice President for Student Affairs at St. Thomas, found himself in the midst of the controversy as the person charged by the university to resolve the problem. So when St. Olaf expressed interest in purchasing the Pillsbury Club, it seemed like the perfect solution had been found. Exodus residents would have a new home and St. Thomas would have its building.”
Source: In the Heart of the City, The Story of St. Olaf Catholic Church 1941-2001