Twin Cities, Minnesota

Second Harvest Heartland

We stopped by Second Harvest Heartland in the Twin Cities to help prepare food for distribution.

Before beginning our shift in their warehouse, we were given a brief orientation including a powerful video about hunger, the challenges faced, and how Second Harvest is addressing the issue in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Thank you to Kate, Megan, Brenda, and Dan for joining us!

More about the Second Harvest Heartland (from their website):

Second Harvest Heartland works to reinvent hunger relief through leadership and innovation. As the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization, our goal is not only to help our hungry neighbors today, but to provide the means for everyone to be fed tomorrow. We’re known for distributing great amounts of food quickly and efficiently; in 2012 alone, we collected, warehoused and distributed more than 76 million pounds of food—but we’re also constantly pioneering ways to reduce waste and better use the abundant resources available in this land of plenty.

Second Harvest Heartland is a member of Feeding America, a national network of more than 200 food banks serving every state in the United States. Membership means access to millions of pounds of surplus food and grocery donations from manufacturers and producers throughout the country.

Second Harvest Heartland on the web:


Fargo, North Dakota

River Keepers

Today’s trip to River Keepers in North Dakota was a first along this journey. To help create educational materials for the upcoming Red River Water Festival we spent time putting together gimp bracelets and cutting stickers that will ultimately end up with fourth graders. We also had a chance to hear about how important the Red River is specifically, but also how crucial it is that we keep our waterways and their surrounding habitats free from pollution.

We stopped by to help them with preparation of educational materials for the Red River Water Festival.

More about River Keepers (from their website):

River Keepers is a non-profit organization established in 1990 to protect and preserve the integrity and natural environment of the Red River of the North in the Fargo, ND – Moorhead, MN area. In addition, River Keepers is interested in the recreation and sustainable development uses of the Red River. River Keepers promotes a renewed vision for the Red River of the North through workshops, youth service-learning projects and advocacy. The primary goal of River Keepers is to demonstrate to the public that the Red River is an underutilized resource. River Keepers works “hand-in hand” with civic, corporate and political leaders, local watershed groups and the public at-large.

River Keepers on the web:


Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The Banquet

I stopped by The Banquet in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to help prepare and serve a meal for the local homeless community. The Banquet did something I’d never seen before — once the food was prepared, the volunteers and the guests sat down together to eat and foster community.

More about The Banquet (from their website):

Our mission is to equip volunteers to provide food and fellowship to those served through the ministry of The Banquet. We provide a safe place where people can gather, receive nourishment and experience love in action.

The Banquet on the web:


Omaha, Nebraska

Open Door Mission

The organization is doing a lot to help those in need from clothing to food to housing to life skills–they’re doing it all. Thanks for letting us see your operation! Big thanks to Steve Frazee for discussing the Mission and to Hannah who showed us the ropes!

More about Open Door Mission (from their website):

Open Door Mission is a Gospel Rescue Mission founded in 1954 committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Each day, Open Door Mission’s campus offers 816 safe, shelter beds to homeless men, women and children, serves over 2,000 hot, nutritious meals and provides preventive measures to more than 275 people living in poverty. Staff would love to give you, your family, your co-workers, or your church a tour of Open Door Mission Campus. You will be able to see first hand how lives are being Changed.

Open Door Mission on the web:


Denver, Colorado

Denver Rescue Mission

I had an opportunity to help prepare and serve lunch with a dedicated team of volunteers. It’s a beautiful thing to see a community come together and bond over service.

More about the Denver Rescue Mission (from their website):

Denver Rescue Mission is changing lives in the name of Christ by meeting people at their physical and spiritual points of need with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.

Denver Rescue Mission on the web:

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne and Laramie County

I visited the hardworking and invaluable team at Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne and Laramie County. MOW provides critical food and human interaction to homebound folks in need of food in an effort to keep them in their homes as long as they can. The volunteers are also instrumental in keeping tabs on folks to make sure their health is doing ok.

The operation is funded by a variety of sources including grants, donations, and the Meals on Wheels Mart–a resale shop where I got to volunteer with sorting donated items that will ultimately end up for sale.

Big thanks to Sharon and Carol! Such a dedicated team!

More about Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne and Laramie County (from their website):

Meals on Wheels of Cheyenne, Inc.’s mission is to assist the elderly, disabled, ill, frail, and convalescing remain in their own homes by providing home-delivered meals and other in-home services. Annually, over 85,000 meals are delivered to the homebound. Meals on Wheels utilizes 25-30 volunteer drivers per day to deliver meals. In addition, daily kitchen volunteers help the cooks prepare, wrap and assemble the meals for delivery. The Meals on Wheels Mart, the organization’s thrift store, utilizes dozens of volunteers.

More Meals on Wheels on the web:


Bozeman, Montana

Befrienders Bozeman & Montana Raptor Center

Bozeman is a pretty magical place. In no small part it’s due to people like our new friend, Cami, who was the Executive Director of Befrienders Bozeman, an organization that puts seniors in touch with young folks to bridge the intergenerational gap. Over the course of two days I met a variety of warm and loving seniors for great conversation including one of the best stories ever told.

On Saturday, we also had a chance to go fishing with two Bozeman locals (thank you Linda and Noah!) in Belgrade, Montana. Though I didn’t have any luck, Noah and Linda did. The fish they caught were donated to the Montana Raptor Conservation Center. Lucky for me, Linda took us to the Raptor Center and we were fortunate (very coincidentally) to see a Red Tailed Hawk the Center had been rehabbing for the past two weeks get released into the wild. We had no idea the release was happening, but were very glad to see it and very impressed by the work the Center is doing.

More about Befrienders Bozeman (from their website):

Befrienders is a non-profit program whose mission is to enhance the quality of life by “befriending” our aging population. Due to life transition, physical limitations or other circumstances, seniors may have limited social interaction. Befrienders matches a volunteer and a senior together to spend at least an hour each week doing a variety of activities, such as going out to lunch, playing games or just talking.

Befrienders was established in 1993 and has brought many generations together in a mutually rewarding relationship by honoring the human spirit and provding life-enriching volunteer opportunities. The program is free and open to seniors age 65 and older and volunteers age 18 and older.

More about Montana Raptor Conservation Center (from their website):

Our mission is to improve the welfare of raptors across Montana through rehabilitation of injured birds, community education, and partnerships for raptor conservation and research.

Befrienders Bozeman on the web:

Montana Raptor Conservation Center on the web:



Las Vegas, Nevada

Clean the World

We stopped by Clean the World (Las Vegas) to hear all about their operation, how they recycle soap from the hospitality industry, and why it’s so important to do what they’re doing. Thanks to Shae and the team for hosting us!

More about Clean the World (from their website):

Clean the World was founded in 2009 by Shawn Seipler. As the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for an e-commerce technology company, Shawn traveled several days a week. The idea for soap recycling came about after Shawn learned the barely used bars of hotel soap he left behind each morning ended up in a landfill. That led to Clean the World, a Florida not-for-profit corporation under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Clean the World has a two-part mission:

Collect and recycle soap and hygiene products discarded every day by the hospitality industry and other sectors that generate environmental waste.

Through the distribution of these and other donated products to impoverished people, prevent millions of hygiene-related deaths each year, reduce the morbidity rate for hygiene-related illnesses, and encourage vigorous childhood development.

Clean the World on the web:


Mesa, Arizona

CARE Partnership

We had an opportunity to visit with the busy and enthusiastic team at CARE Partnership in Mesa, AZ. It was certainly one of the most impressive organizations we’ve come across on this journey. In addition to providing medical and dental services, there was also a community garden, an after school program, and even a Santa program. It can not be overstated how much CARE does to serve the Mesa community. During our time at CARE we helped plant vegetables, finger painted with school kids, and sorted items for re-sale.

More about CARE Partnership (from their website):

CARE’s Mission is to mobilize the caring power of community, providing opportunities for all people to achieve their optimum health and well-being.

Our vision is to bring diverse people together to work for the common good.

Our foundation is based on “a hand up” and NOT “a hand out”.

We believe that through empowerment and personal value recognition, communities can self strengthen.

CARE Partnership on the web:

Albuquerque, New Mexico

St. Martin’s Hospitality Center

We started our day in Albuquerque with the team at Good Day New Mexico where we talked about the mission, how great it has been to meet so many enthusiastic volunteers along the journey so far, and how others can help. Then we visited St. Martin’s Hospitality Center in Albuquerque where we helped prepare and serve lunch to those in need.

More about St. Martin’s Hospitality Center (from their website):

St. Martin’s Hospitality Center provides critical services for people experiencing homelessness and near homelessness. We provide:

  1. Mental Health/Behavioral Health/ Therapy and Recovery Services
  2. Housing
  3. Shelter/Emergency Support Services
  4. Employment Services/Coffee Shop Employment Lab.

St. Martin’s has been at the forefront of working to end homelessness for over 27 years and has recently started a new approach of attempting to end homelessness as we know it in the next five years. St. Martin’s was founded in 1985, and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a passion and mission to end homelessness one person at a time. St. Martin’s has been recognized for excellence in program delivery and outcome and is proud to report only a 9% admin cost compared with an industry standard that should not exceed 20%. Efficiency and efficacy are central to the mission of St. Martin’s, “To assist homeless and near homeless people by providing resources, opportunity and Hope.”

St. Martin’s Hospitality Center on the web: