By Jennifer Harrison
Ericka is a 25 year old new mom who found herself homeless after leaving an abusive relationship last fall. Ericka left her job when she was pregnant with her son, so she didn't have the income needed to get an apartment on her own. Her dad had just passed away, and her mother lives in another state, so after staying with friends for a short time, Ericka had nowhere to go.
Upon arriving to Dakota Woodlands, Ericka worked with staff at Dakota Woodlands to get enrolled in a few classes to work towards her degree so she could secure a good job with steady income. She also took advantage of the in-shelter classes on financial management, parenting, and how to be a good renter.
Just after St. Patrick's Day, Ericka moved into an apartment with her son and has been able to continue her schoolwork while seeking steady employment. She told staff that after her stay, she feels stronger and more prepared to live on her own and raise her son.
Your support allows families like Ericka's to get the support they need to regain their independence.
By Jennifer Harrison
Adrianna is a 34 year old mother with multiple medical diagnoses. She actually lived at Dakota Woodlands as a child, along with her mother and three sisters. Her three sisters have also returned to Dakota Woodlands, since becoming adults.
After her divorce, Adrianna was left with nothing and was homeless for about a year before coming to Dakota Woodlands. Despite the many challenges Adrianna faced, her main goal was always to create a better life for her child. She was a very positive and pleasant resident and a great mother.
Adrianna completed Dakota Woodlands program and even participated in the work program to earn points for the store during her stay. Adrianna was always with her son and frequently told staff that he comes first and she is doing all of this for him. She also told staff how happy and grateful she was to be at Dakota Woodlands.
This past Fall, Adrianna moved into an apartment with her son and she said even though she knew she would be welcomed back to Dakota Woodlands, it is very unlikely that she will ever have to return here.
Your support allows families like Adrianna's to get the support they need to regain their independence.
Take a few minutes to get to know our new Executive Director, Jennifer Harrison!
By Dakota Woodlands Representative
This week brought a wonderful surprise to Dakota Woodlands. Not only was the weather beautiful with sunshine and cool temperatures of 63 degrees, we had a special visitor from Chef Lucas Pizza – serving over 31 pizzas to residents and staff! Chef Lucas is no stranger to DW. We first met Lucas Hobbs in 2016, when he was 13 years old. Chef Lucas showed up at DW with a food truck and served hot meals to the people living and working at our organization. At the time, we learned that Chef Lucas had gone through a battle with cancer and that he wanted to give back to the community that helped him put the cancer in remission. With the help of his parents and the Minnesota Food Truck Association, Chef Lucas could make his dream a reality, by sharing his passion for cooking and serving good food to the community he so loves. This mixed with his determination is what it took to grow his vision to what it is today. Now 18 years old, Chef Lucas has launched the Chef Lucas Pizza food truck to help serve that mission by bringing delicious hot and fresh pizza directly to the Minneapolis community. His 501(c)(3) charity Chef Lucas Food has served thousands of meals across the country in that effort. To learn more about this amazing individual, please visit https://www.cheflucaspizza.com/.
A MESSAGE FROM OUR BOARD CHAIR, STEVE ZWEBER
On behalf of the board of directors, I am happy to announce that we’ve selected Jennifer Harrison to be the new Executive Director of Dakota Woodlands. The board is grateful for Beth Bromen, who has led Dakota Woodlands for more than a decade, but has planned to retire this year. Beth is leaving Dakota Woodlands financially and operationally stable. On this firm foundation, we are excited to grow into the future under Jennifer’s leadership.
Jennifer’s appointment comes at the end of a thorough recruitment process in which we sought a skilled nonprofit leader with a passion for serving families and who has a welcoming, inclusive style.
She will begin her leadership role effective June 14. She will work through a successful
transition with Beth throughout the month of June.
Jennifer has more than 16 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations, most
recently as the Development and Communications Director at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis
Nursery. Throughout her career she has advanced through various nonprofit organizations in
the Twin Cities including human service organizations helping individuals and families in crisis
such as Episcopal Community Services, Emerge Community Development and the Greater
Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. At each of these organizations, she sat on the leadership team, was involved in strategic planning and organizational management decisions, and worked closely with the board of directors and staff.
Jennifer is a Certified Fundraising Executive, and holds a Masters of Nonprofit Management
from Hamline University.
In her free time she enjoys getting outside with her dog, Jake, exploring local parks and trails,
running, reading, and gardening. She makes her home in Dakota County.
"I am so thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside the staff and volunteers at Dakota
Woodlands to support homeless families on their journey to independence,” Jennifer said.
Please join us in welcoming Jennifer to Dakota Woodlands!
Steve Zweber, Board Chair
MESSAGE FROM OUR VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR, BETH BURNETT
April is a National Volunteer Month and we want to give special recognition for all of the hard work that you do around our building and community and to say "THANK YOU"! We are so grateful to have a solid group of regular volunteers who show up every week to get things done as well as volunteers who may come for a one shift or a few shifts before moving on. Both types of volunteers are important to the ongoing work at Dakota Woodlands.
This past year has looked a little different for many of our volunteers, as our needs changed. I have been so impressed by the willingness to 'jump' in and help when needed as well as the flexibility to make changes. Many tasks that volunteers do often go unnoticed by residents and families due to you coming and going without anyone seeing you. However, this unseen magic is what makes the stays better for all the families.
As we look forward to the future, I am excited to see where this year goes and the positive impact that all of our volunteers will have! This month we are celebrating YOU!
On behalf of Dakota Woodlands' community, THANK YOU all for your help this year!
Dakota Woodlands (DW) and Nicole Bathgate, Deputy Executive for DW, are honored to be funded by Target Corporation to virtually participate in New Strategies, an advanced online training program conducted over four consecutive Wednesdays from March 3 - 24 by Georgetown University’s Business for Impact. Bathgate will join a class of 64 nonprofit executives from around the country to participate in New Strategies’ Symposium specifically designed to help nonprofits increase and diversify their revenue streams.
Executives will learn from leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropy fields, Georgetown business school faculty and each other on topics ranging from cause marketing, earned revenue, using predictive analytics to increase individual giving levels, deferred and major gift funding options, virtual fund raising, alliances and mergers and more. Ongoing access to the expert speakers and networking among the nonprofit executives is a hallmark of New Strategies.
There is no application to apply to New Strategies, so being named by Target Corporation is itself an honor. Only those nonprofits funded by a corporation or foundation are invited to participate in the program and only after being approved by New Strategies.
By Dakota Woodlands Representative
Dakota Woodlands Representative (Nicole Bathgate)