Throughout the last year and a half, more and more OSCS staff, participants, and volunteers have returned to our campus. That transition has created natural opportunities to return to the way things were before the pandemic started. We chose not to.
We chose, instead, transitions that center comfort and connection. Transitions that honor continuous learning while creating space for everyone to not just participate, but contribute to the sense of community. We strategically reduced shelter capacity and launched the respite pilot, prioritizing guests’ rest and wellness. We brought back the option for English Learning Center students to return to in-person classes, and also maintained online learning.
Services are most effective when everyone feels a sense of connection. A community is strongest when everyone feels like they belong. We strive to create spaces where staff, volunteers, and participants can feel comfortable expressing wholly who they are. We believe empowering staff to contribute their experience and wisdom strengthens the culture of belonging we are creating.
No matter where we may work, live, or learn, what connects us is the sense of belonging rooted to the Phillips neighborhood. In the year ahead, we will continue to build and center a culture of belonging at OSCS. We will also continue thinking critically about how we can leverage our skills, space, and relationships to support the neighborhood’s priorities.
We are excited for the next phase of our work. We know the strength and value of connection, and we thank you for your connection to OSCS. We look forward to continuing to build community with you.
English, Math, Conversation, Speaking & Listening, and Preparation for the U.S. Citizenship Exam
*In this report, we define “students” as participants spending 12 or more hours in class at the ELC.
Hours of Student Learning
English, math, conversation, speaking & listening, and preparation for the U.S. Citizenship exam.
In the fall we welcomed in-person students back while sustaining online class options. With double the learning options, nearly twice as many student hours were completed as last fiscal year.
Online is perfect for me because I have younger children.”
– Pang, an ELC student
Originally from Afghanistan, Farahnaz came to Minnesota this past February during the harsh days of winter. She remembers it was “so cold!” Before arriving in the US, she knew “some words” of English, but in less than a year of taking classes, she has greatly increased her skills. Farahnaz joined the ELC’s learning community in March, choosing to learn from home. Online classes, along with support from her husband, help make it possible for Farahnaz to care for her daughters while also working toward her goals and building English language skills. She has even been able to continue her studies while caring for her youngest child, a four-month-old daughter.
The ELC works hard to provide class options that help students with busy lives participate. Online classes have also allowed Farahnaz to stay in the same class after moving from Minneapolis to an outer-ring suburb. This type of flexibility helps students continue learning with familiar teachers and classmates, even when major life changes occur. Staff and volunteers work hard to support students. Farahnaz says that when she calls the ELC, the staff “always answer our phone.”
Online students like Farahnaz do need to come to the ELC in person for testing after a certain number of classroom hours are completed. These tests help the ELC staff determine when students are ready to move to the next level of classes. For now, her husband drives her to the ELC when she needs to come in for testing, but Farahnaz is working to gain the language skills necessary to pass her driver’s knowledge test. She is confident that continuing her English classes will give her the skills needed to move forward with her goal of getting her driver’s license. Students like Farahnaz use the skills they gain at the ELC in many ways that help them participate in the community.
Farahnaz is excited about her classes and shares that teachers at the ELC “always encourage us and they support us.” She participates in both the level 6 classes and conversation classes. She shares that the conversation class is a “big opportunity” for students to speak English and connect with other students from Afghanistan, as well as other countries. “We can solve our problem with each other,” Farahnaz says.
Just a few weeks ago, Connie* spent her first night at our shelter. Here, in her own room, she felt “happy, actually peaceful.” In fact, she felt such a sense of peace that she didn’t get to sleep right away because she was enjoying the freedom to stay up and watch movies on her phone, with her headphones on. At other places she’s stayed, letting her guard down like that wasn’t possible. She shared that in other settings, she “always had to be on the lookout, stay alert, focused, actually, out there.”
In the years before becoming a guest at our shelter, Connie lived on the streets, in camps, and spent time at other shelters. Here, Connie can relax in a quiet setting where she can grab a cup of coffee at her leisure, eat provided meals or enjoy her own snacks, and watch movies in her room or in the community room. She notes how easy it is for her to do laundry without a long wait and that she feels safer from COVID-19 being able to stay at the shelter during the daytime.
Her case managers, including an OSCS case manager, are helping Connie find a place of her own. For Connie, the ideal home would be in the suburbs and would allow her to get a small dog. She looks forward to decorating, having her own bedroom set, and cooking whatever she feels like eating. Connie hopes to “have my peace and quiet, watch whatever I want to watch” when she moves into her own place.
Looking forward, Connie wants to go back to school and get her driver’s license again. She has experience with incarceration, and that can be a big barrier to job opportunities. She’s not sure what she wants to study at school, but she shared that she is interested in culinary arts and has experience with filing. Connie also shares that she looks forward to going back home to the reservation and spending time with family, including caring for her granddaughter who just turned three.
Woven throughout the threads of Connie’s story is the importance of family ties and taking care of others. When she shared her goal of having a past eviction expunged, she remembered losing more than just a place to stay. During an eviction, she sadly lost star quilts and beadwork that her mom had sent to her when Connie was ill. Despite the setbacks she’s experienced, Connie still prioritizes helping other people, including a cousin with mobility challenges.
While Connie prepares for her next step, she shares her gratitude for her place at the shelter, coffee at her side: “Like I’m glad this opportunity for me came up.”
*Client has requested to omit her real name.
On a chilly fall morning, Ciera opened the front door of her new home to share her story, a warm smile on her face. In March of this year, Ciera moved into her new home through the Permanent Supportive Housing Program at Our Saviour’s Housing. The process of getting into her own place took about a year and a half, but now that she has stable housing, she feels a sense of relief. “To be somewhere stable or knowing I would be somewhere stable was a good thing.”
Ciera has had trouble finding housing in the past. “I didn’t have the backing of resources [and] connections with referrals and knowing people so it was hard for me to try to get into places,” she said about previous searches. But during her time at another shelter, she received an intake assessment and referral to Our Saviour’s Community Services. Ciera now resides in one of the housing units owned by OSCS in the Phillips neighborhood. Her home is close to resources, and the location makes it easy for Ciera to meet with her case manager. These units used to be used for transitional housing. As that OSH program sunsetted in 2021, the homes have taken on a new life and purpose for our Permanent Supportive Housing residents.
Sitting in the living room of her home that she shares with two roommates, Ciera shares that she enjoys the flexibility to come and go as she pleases. Although she doesn’t cook, she is able to microwave anything she’d like to eat. She also appreciates the transportation support and rent help she can access through Our Saviour’s Housing.
Ciera’s favorite memory so far in her new home was finding out she got a job at a cleaning service. In regards to working, she shared that “I didn’t have to, but I wanted to.” Her job is strenuous, but she is working toward her goal of buying her first car. Moving into her home symbolized the beginning of progress toward that goal for Ciera. In the future, she would like to find another job, possibly in the caregiving field. She’s interested in caregiving because she enjoys “being able to help people.”
April 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022
- 59% Government Grants $1,936,928
- 9% Corporate and Foundation Grants $293,240
- 8% Individuals and Faith Communities $247,258
- 6% COVID-specific Support $198,878
- 3% Earned Income $108,813
- 9% Other Income $277,269
- 6% In-Kind Support $195,857
- 62% PSH (OSH) $1,994,405
- 19% Emergency Shelter (OSH) $598,565
- 15% English Learning Center $481,757
- 3% Management & General $91,346
- 2% Fundraising $57,895
• We increased wages for shelter staff.
• Building maintenance needs exceeded what we had budgeted. We were able to offset much of these costs with a new funder.
• Special COVID-19 funding declined significantly this year. Your contributions helped us maintain the environment, programming, and community that our residents, guests, students, staff, and volunteers deserve. Thank you!
Board of Directors
Fiscal Year 2021-2022
- Daniel Bain
- Craig Johnson
- Jane Dunlap
- Nate Hallanger
- Tom Mulhere
- Tezra Osthus
- Martha Schwehn Bardwell
- Nick Smith
- James Unglaube
- Angela Willson
- Pr. Laurie Eaton*
*Concluded board service during the year
View our current board list here.
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2315 Chicago Ave. So.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Phone | 612.871.5900
Fax | 612.871.0017