Weather Forecast


Nameless Coalition for the Homeless to host fundraiser

BEMIDJI -- Love for homeless people in Bemidji won’t stop on Valentine’s Day.

The Nameless Coalition for the Homeless is sponsoring a fundraiser at the Eagle’s Club on Sunday.

“Hearts for Hospitality” is the coalition’s first midwinter festival. Festivities will include a silent auction, raffle, live music and dinner.

“I twisted somebody’s arm in Warroad and got another ham,” said Elsa Znajda, who has been with the coalition since it formed in November.

Bemidji Downtown Meats has already donated one ham for the fundraiser. Brigid’s Pub will provide au gratin potatoes and area churches are donating salads and desserts.

The event will feature music by Red Cedar Lake from 5 to 8 p.m. Volunteers will serve dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. A $5 donation covers a small portion; a large dinner cost $10. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated to the Peoples Church for emergency shelter and community meals.

Attendees will have the opportunity to bid on silent auction items and purchase raffle tickets. The coalition is still accepting silent auction items. Individuals or businesses wishing to donate should contact Carol Priest at (218) 760-0605.

Further fundraising

When the coalition formed four months ago, with good intentions and without a name, the goal was to get the homeless men, women and children off the frigid Minnesota streets before winter. The Nameless Coalition for the Homeless has kept its perpetual momentum and has utilized the resources it currently has -- Peoples Church.

The coalition has been meeting every two weeks at Brigid’s Pub, and two areas have clearly risen to the top of agenda: alcoholism and more space.

“There’s really two foundational issues here,” coalition member Mark Olson said. “One is the chronic alcoholic population. The second is, the Village of Hope last year in 2013 turned away 976 people because they were at capacity.” Of those 976 people, 526 were children, he said.

Peoples Church can fit 15 to possibly 20 people, but is limited to one corner lot on America Avenue and Ninth Street in Bemidji. Kristi Miller said the coalition has been researching available properties in Bemidji that would be able to house a detox center.

“There are getting to be fewer (detoxes) throughout the state,” said Bob Kelly with Peoples Church. “It seems to me that part of this is we would then have a regional detox.” Kelly said a regional detox would be appealing from an economic standpoint.

A doctor has been identified, but not confirmed, who has expressed interest in becoming the medical director of the regional detox facility, Kelly said. Coalition member Mike Bredon said they hope to have representation from a medical facility at an upcoming meeting.

“So there’s discussions about places to do it,” Bredon said. “That, of course, starts the conversation of how do we begin to raise and collect funds.”

Sandy Hennum with Village of Hope, also on the coalition’s stop-gap committee, has been networking with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. She expects to be speaking with a representative of the Minnesota Housing Partnership later this week.

Hennum has been drafting a proposal the Nameless Coalition for the Homeless will be presenting to business and government entities.

“The proposal will be to look at funding streams,” Hennum explained. “It’s a business plan and an educational and awareness piece.”

The Nameless Coalition for the Homeless has been looking into becoming a 501(c)3 non-profit, which will help the group acquire funding for future projects. The group currently has a pool of grant writers.

“You don’t get very far in the nonprofit world without writing a grant or two,” Hennum said.

The coalition will meet again at 2 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Brigid’s Pub. People interested in attending should enter using the back entrance.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
(218) 333-9796