Call it divine intervention or just another Facebook success story, but a thankful pastor is back in the snowblowing business.
Next to his Bible, the snow blower might be the most important tool for Pastor Deundra Roberson and his fledging New Mt. Sinai House of Faith congregation in north Minneapolis.
So when someone stole Roberson's pickup truck last summer, with the snowblower in the back, the 25-member church was left shorthanded.
"Some of our brothers were just released from prison and are trying to restart their lives," said Roberson, 34, who founded New Mt. Sinai last year.
"Cutting grass in the summer and clearing snow in the winter was giving them something positive to do to restore their humanity."
The snow blower helped generate $400 to $500 with each snowfall, split between the church and the congregant doing the work.
Of course shovels can do the job, but Roberson says "it takes a whole lot longer" to dig out the 16 customers around North Memorial Medical Center and the congregation's new home at 1229 Logan Av. N.
Enter a couple neighborhood activists who heard about the pastor's plight: Tyshelle Cotton of the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition and Dave Snyder of Jewish Community Action, who met Roberson while working on the mortgage foreclosure crunch in north Minneapolis.
"I saw the good work the pastor was doing with neighborhood kids washing cars last summer," Cotton said.
When she heard about the stolen snow blower, she mentioned it to Snyder, who threw out a request on Facebook.
"Within an hour, we had a couple offers," Cotton said. "It's all about banding together to make things work."
On Saturday morning, Roberson accepted a free snow blower from North Side resident Jeff Strand, 51, who'd seen the Facebook plea and was looking to donate his 15-year-old snowblower to charity.
With a bunch of new snow piling up overnight, the timing couldn't have been better.
"I hope they can put it to good use," Strand said.
Said Roberson: "It's a major part of what we do. Community work is our main thing and, in tough times like these now, we're all called to give a little back."
Curt Brown • 612-673-4767