New Building Gives Reach and Restore More Room to Help Families
The Hopkins charity furnishes empty homes, offers quality clothes and helps needy families celebrate their children's birthdays.
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Ronda Oliver wanted to help those who'd been forced from their homes. She quickly set up shop in her Minnetonka garage to provide assistance to those who'd been displaced.
As Oliver provided that help, though, she began to get requests to assist locals. Soon she was helping more and more of her fellow Minnesotans.
Reach and Restore, as the organization came to be called, has come a long way since its garage days. It moved into a 6,500-square-foot Hopkins warehouse in May and provides relief to hundreds across the west metro.
"A lot of us have a lot of resources, and we're commanded to share," explained Oliver, now the organization's executive director.
True to its Katrina roots, Reach and Restore focuses on providing families with the basics needed to furnish a home. Social workers, charities and other sources tell them about a family's needs—often beds and bedding, a table, kitchen items and other essentials.
Reach and Restore volunteers then load the items they have into the organization's van and deliver it straight to the family's door, particularly important since many don't have transportation.
Linda Baillie, who started volunteering with the organization when she retired in 2008, can still recall the day she visited the home of a 23-year-old woman and her 8-month-old child. A stroller and a blanket on the floor were the only things in the home.
The organization dropped off a twin bed, sheets, pots and pans, a Pack 'n Play for the baby to sleep in and other items.
"It just grabs your stomach when you walk into a place and there's nothing," Baillie said.
All of those at Reach and Restore are volunteers. Oliver works for the organization at least 40 hours a week. Baillie, the organization's accountant, works there about 35 hours a week.
"I'm retired, and it doesn't feel like it," she laughed.
But that's part of the appeal for Baillie. No one makes any money, so all of the money given to Reach and Restore goes to help those who in need.
The organization has about 10 regular volunteers like Oliver and Baillie, many more who can be called in when needed and lots of support from its ministry sponsor, Ridgewood Church in Minnetonka.
All this help is needed because the bigger space gives Reach and Restore room to offer a variety of services. It has an extensive clothes closet that includes suit coats to give job seekers a professional look. It has a couple of computers residents can use to search for jobs and housing. It even has a "birthday closet" where parents can choose a gift and wrap it, get a birthday card and pick up cake mix and frosting—"the basics to make it a little more special for them," Oliver said.
For her, the work the organization does is just part of her duty to help others, and she's more than happy to be doing the work.
"We're all struggling in some ways. Some are struggling more than others. Christ calls us to go to others," she said. "It's definitely a calling."
Want to help?
In order to avoid being inundated with volunteers or donations, Reach and Restore asks those who want to help to first call 952-933-1393. The organization has a particular need for adult winter boots.