Community Bridge (CB) began as a partnership of Lutheran Social Service of MN (LSS) and Messiah Lutheran Church at the Center for Changing Lives (CFCL or the Center) to enhance hospitality and community outreach in the Phillips West Neighborhood. Both LSS and Messiah Church services and ministries became more visible when they moved in as partners in the brand new Center that opened in the fall of 2008. The neighborhood had its own share of the impact of the nation-wide economic downturn including, loss of employment and thus livelihood. Messiah Church had a food shelf that had been in operation for over 50 years at 25th and Columbus Ave by the time of move to the Center on 2400 Park in 2008. The church and the Center café especially received many people, some who needed immediate help with food, employment, housing, and other basics as well as others who were lonely and in need of a place to belong.
In the fall of 2008, a Café Planning Committee was formed with representation from LSS, Messiah Church and community volunteers and partners to assess the feasibility of operating a café in the newly constructed Center. Over the next 16 months, the Committee developed a business plan for operating a café that would complement the CFCL services and still be self-sustainable over time. The goal for the startup of a café was to replace the vending machines with healthy food options. On December 1st, 2009, the Center Café began operating as a nonprofit café under the fiscal sponsorship of Lutheran Social Service. The Café began by selling pre-packaged food and beverages. In January 2010, the Center Café expanded food options to include hot soups and cold sandwiches. Eventually in 2011, a need to provide food for the many events and meetings held at the CFCL saw the need for a catering operation.
The center café and the church’s food shelf drew more volunteers from the neighborhood and beyond. Some were in dire need of employment but were lacking needed skills. The café expanded and began doing more than just coffee to helping train and mentor people for employment, many of who started off as community volunteers. This need was complemented by the need for workers in the developing catering services which helped provide more hours and a way to support the job training. Community building and connecting people was another important area of focus and a community meal which began as an occasional lunch and movie quickly grew into a weekly community meal in partnership with Messiah Church.
Meanwhile, a need to expand the food shelf to increase capacity and scope of outreach for the growing needs in the community and beyond led to a partnership with Second Harvest Heartland which helped provide more food at lower costs. Community Bridge was established and incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) in 2012. By then, LSS was no longer the fiscal agent of the café. CB became the proprietor of the Center’s food operations including the food shelf operation and café and catering services.
Our mission is to empower people to meet their needs and create opportunities for all to thrive. We do this by:
- Providing healthy, nutritious food through the Food Pantry, Center Café and Catering
- Providing entry level employment and training opportunities through the Center Café and Catering
- Helping Center Café employees increase their skills and achieve recognized Food Service industry certifications
- Creating opportunity to build a beloved community through community meals and community art engagement events
Our vision is to be part of God’s beloved community by providing food and job training in food services. We do this by welcoming, accepting, and valuing everyone.
To fulfill the mission and vision, the goals of Community Bridge has set goals: to offer a hospitable environment for building relationships and developing partnerships; close meal gaps by providing healthy, nutritious food free or at affordable prices and in a manner that limits its carbon footprints; provide work force preparation and “on the job” training and mentoring for the un/underemployed; create sustainable ways for hungry people to be fed.
Open twice monthly, the food shelf provides free food (including frozen meats and fresh produce from community gardens) for over 500 households from community and beyond. Some non-perishable food is provided on emergency basis to assist people who may really need it. The monthly food shelf distribution events provide volunteer opportunities. A nutritious breakfast brunch is provided at each of the events, another chance to build a beloved community. We also provide a total of about 2000 complete special meal baskets during Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and utilize over 500 volunteers for the events.
- Catherine Arnevik- Catering Supervisor
- Dorothy Hughes – Café Manager
- Patti Hurd–CB Contract Grant Writer
- Cynthia Love – Café Cook
- Greg Lundquist- Assistant Café Director
- Mary Lundquist – Executive Director, Community Bridge
- Randall Smith – Café Worker
- Fatoun Ali –Director of Somali Youth and Family Development Center
- Randi Church — Messiah Church
- Josh Maslowski–Sales and Marketing
- Lucy Mungai — CFCL Community
- Terry Nelson — Business owner
- Daniel Perez — Social Worker, Writer and Consultant
- Ginny Steele – Member St Philip the Deacon Church, Volunteer (Community Bridge Board President)
Advisory Board (Former Board members)
- Pam Anderson
- Richard Andersen
- Chuck Bies
- Patti Hurd
- Clarence Jones
- Craig Lewis — Retired Pastor, Banker and Developer
- Luis Vegas — Youth Director and Music Leader of New Life Center Apostolic Church
I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve made & the opportunity to work in a setting that serves people from so many different backgrounds.
Why am I with Community Bridge? Belongingness and purpose.
The reason I love coming to work is because I have a job with nice people and everyone’s happy, we get along. And in a way I’m doing something that God sees. It give me peace of mind.
I like coming here to be part of the beloved community.
I love my job because I get the opportunity to feed a variety of people and get to see the different expressions on their faces.
I like coming here to work with and help people. I love to see their smiling faces.