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Wanted: More volunteers
Yet VEAP’s underdog mind-set hasn’t changed much from 40 years ago, when a handful of volunteers who wanted to help needy people got a Richfield hardware store to donate shelf space for storage.
Though the new building is filled with new furniture, Freeman kept her old donated desk and bookcase and her bulldog persistence to help people who are living in or on the brink of poverty. Need for food, she said, is just a symptom that people are in crisis and need other help. VEAP is seeing increasing numbers of seniors, and even people between ages 55 and 65.
So she’s looking to boost the number of volunteers from 1,000 to 1,500 in the next few years. She wants to raise money to fill gaps for housing support after state and federal governments cut funding for those programs, and she is trying to raise $5 million to pay off costs associated with the new building, which cost $7.1 million to buy and renovate. Hennepin County’s rent payments go toward that debt.
“We’re accomplishing what we set out to accomplish, but we have so much more to do,” Freeman said. “I want to push money back into programs.”
Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380