From a strategy intended to create a more equitable learning environment for St. Kate’s students, an opportunity to support social justice efforts in another part of the state was created.
Studies have shown the homeless population statewide is uncomfortably high; more than 7,000 people in this state experienced homelessness on any given day in 2018. As the weather turns colder, this crisis amplifies as people struggle to find shelter to keep warm.
No part of the state is exempt from this. In southern Minnesota, a unique partnership has developed to take the concept of shelter one step further and create a place to not just reclaim a sense of human dignity, but also connect to services that help those experiencing homelessness find the support they need to create homes of their own. Representatives from the City of Rochester, Olmstead County, Mayo Clinic, and Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota assembled last winter and began work on creating this shelter, which will be open by mid-December: the Rochester Community Warming Center. The space will be open every night this winter, with room for 30 people to sleep, several bathrooms and showers and a washer and dryer for laundry. It was recently previewed to local and statewide media.
The St. Kate’s Connection
As plans for the Warming Center were taking shape, the St. Kate’s Campus Integration strategy was moving into its second phase. The Facilities team was clearing offices, classrooms, and residential spaces on the Minneapolis campus and reallocating furnishings to be re-used on the St. Paul campus.
“We were in the process of moving over residence hall furniture from Minneapolis and it became clear we could not utilize it all,” said Mike Hara, senior director of Purchasing, External Contracts and University Services. “We also didn't have space to store it all on campus. Our former Housing Operations specialist, Miriam West, had a connection to the City of Rochester and passed along the information about the warming center to me. After talking with representatives from the project, they welcomed our donation of bunk beds and mattresses.”
Director of Housing Operations Sabrina Anderson and the Housing Operations team organized all the bed parts and directions for easy assembly until the Warming Center organizers were ready to accept them. The City of Rochester sent a truck up to campus to pick up the furniture and deliver the pieces to their new home.
“Social justice is a St. Kate’s value,” explained Hara. “Supporting the change that the community is creating with the Rochester Community Warming Center is one way we live that value. We are glad that these beds can continue to be used in a way that honors the spirit of our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Repurposing the use of beds supports St. Kate's sustainability strategy to minimize our contribution to the waste stream. It was a great opportunity to have these beds meet a critical need.”
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At St. Kate’s, our Access and Success offers support and programs to help any student who is facing a basic needs emergency impacting their ability to access food, housing, medical care, child care, transportation.