To the editor:  

Five years ago, a group of citizens in Red Wing formed a committee of volunteers to address the shelter needs of homeless individuals and families. We have worked in collaboration with HOPE Coalition, Connecting Connections, Youth Outreach, Salvation Army, Southeast Minnesota Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the Red Wing Police Department and the city of Red Wing. HOPE Coalition's housing advocate is a member of this committee and HOPE is our fiscal agent.

During this time we have been able to provide emergency shelter for hundreds of homeless people who have been referred to the housing advocate who is our part-time staff person. This has been possible because of generous support from churches and a concerned group of individuals. This year we will also be getting financial assistance from the county and the city whose support in 2018 has been critical for our commitment to care for homeless families and individuals.

Our ultimate goal is to find a building that can be a permanent shelter. This is difficult because of zoning restrictions, but we continue to hope and explore possible sites.

Last year we provided shelter and food to 126 individuals. This year we have provided shelter and food to 322 individuals and family members. Shelter ranged from a night to several days and to longer periods. We have spent $34,000 for food and shelter.

Our goal this coming year is to raise $40,000. We anticipate another increase in the number of homeless people and increases in the cost of shelter and food.

There are many ways you can help. Churches can provide donations from their regular budgets or host a Shelter Sunday and collect a free-will offering. Individuals and corporations can make tax-deductible contributions (HOPE Coalition's tax ID number is 41-1720180) and donations can be sent to HOPE Coalition, PO Box 62, Red Wing, MN 55066.

It is important to include the word 'homeless' in the memo line of a check sent to HOPE Coalition. This will get it to our account. And perhaps the most important thing any of us can do is become active advocates for and with the homeless.

On behalf of the homeless, we thank you for the support you have given. You really do make what we do possible. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Jack Nordgaard at 651-388-7731 or Jerry O'Rourke at 651-388-3348.

Jack Nordgaard and  Jerry O'Rourke

Red Wing