CHS updates

Twin Cities nonprofit groups provide personal connections during pandemic

Two volunteers in a good shelf.

Hallie Q. Brown has seen a 4,000 % increase for assistance since the pandemic started.

Mar 24, 2021

“Mr. Smith only likes Adam and Eve apple juice, and 4-year-old Sally lives with six adults, so we got her an old iPad so she can watch kids shows,” says Dawn Selle, development director, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

The staff at Hallie Q. Brown, a nonprofit organization that provides food, clothing and youth services to those in need in the historic Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul, Minn., remembers personal details about the more than 100 individuals and families they serve each day. Despite seeing a 4,000% increase in requested services since the pandemic started, staff and volunteers have made it their mission to maintain strong connections with the clients they serve.

“We refer to our services as a food store, not a food shelf,” says Selle. “We get to know our clients personally and provide them with choices to help remove the stigma of needing food support.”

To help maintain client choice during the pandemic, the organization added an online order form.  Like Instacart or other online grocery services, clients can select items and sign up for a pick-up time.

“Some of our clients don’t have internet access or transportation,” says Selle. “For those folks, we’ve been able to take phone orders and use volunteers for delivery. We do whatever we can to be the lighthouse in the community and help anyone who needs it.”

Hallie Q. Brown was one of four Twin Cities organizations recently selected to receive a $5,000 Backyard Giving Grant from CHS. More than 20 organizations applied for funding, and four were selected by CHS employees on the IGH Employee Engagement Committee and EOC Teambuilding Committee at the Twin Cities offices.

Other organizations and projects selected were:

  • Solid Ground, a summer camp and mentoring program for K-8 students
  • Baby’s Space at Little Earth, which provides access to food and housing assistance for families with young children
  • Project Success, an education program that introduces high school students to careers in ag, nutrition and food preparation

The Backyard Giving Grant program provides support to Minnesota organizations in Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties that are meeting community needs for food security, housing, education and urban agriculture.

If you are passionate about an organization that serves those needs in the Twin Cities, contact to have it added to the contact list to receive updates about future funding opportunities and deadlines.