Volunteer Highlight: Grandpa Bob!

Grandpa Bob is a passionate and dedicated volunteer here at Jeremiah Program with an inspiring story. He has been volunteering with kids for 25 years and spends four days a week in the Child Development Center at the Jeremiah Minneapolis campus.

A little bit about Grandpa Bob…

Grandpa Bob grew up in New Orleans. He was cared for primarily by his mother and didn’t see much of his father. When he was 15 years old he joined the military for three years, and then after the military, he worked a few jobs as an over the road driver, roofer and carpenter for 12 years. He eventually moved to Rochester, Minnesota to take care of his mother who got sick after recently moving there. Grandpa Bob worked as a janitor at the University of Minnesota for seven years. After working as a janitor, he found a job as an ADT installer. He ended up getting hurt on the job and could no longer work. Soon after that, Grandpa Bob found his passion for volunteering. He started volunteering at Lutheran Social Services and stayed there for 15 years until he found Jeremiah Program.

Grandpa Bob’s experience at Jeremiah Program…

Grandpa Bob has been volunteering with kids for 25 years! When asked why he continues to volunteer despite his age and health challenges he has faced, he exclaimed “I like kids! I like doing it… I don’t always feel good when I get up in the morning, but when I get up and go I get here and I feel good!” Grandpa Bob enjoys talking with the kids, doing puzzles with them, playing games and going outside with the kids. He has also helped some of the kids learn to read and serves them lunch every day. The kids absolutely love having Grandpa Bob around and the parents say they hear so many positive things about Grandpa Bob from their children.

Volunteers like Grandpa Bob have a drastic and lasting impact at Jeremiah Program. His optimistic attitude and lightheartedness create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Grandpa Bob truly brings a smile to every face he meets. Thank you so much, Grandpa Bob, for all you do here at Jeremiah!

Housing vouchers sought to support Jeremiah Program

By Randy Petersen (rpetersen@postbulletin.com)

ROCHESTER, May 7th, 2018 – With plans and land in hand, pieces are falling in place for a new program aimed at helping single mothers escape poverty.

The Jeremiah Program still has some hurdles to clear in efforts to make its Rochester location a reality in 2020.

“In order to effectively run this program, we need to have a place for these families to live,” said JoMarie Morris, executive director of the Rochester program.

With an estimated $10.5 million in construction costs, the tax credits could provide equity to offset the price of building the complex that also would include a child-development center and offices for supportive services

Susan Strandberg, a community development officer with Three Rivers, said the tax credits are competitive, with one in four projects getting approval. The potential for dedicated housing vouchers will help the project score points in its application, she added.

“It helps in the long-term sustainability of the project, as well as making it competitive,” she said.

With a June 14 deadline for applying for housing tax credits, Jeremiah Program is seeking support from the Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Board, which oversees local vouchers for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development program commonly known as Section 8.

The county program has the authority to set aside up to 20 percent of its 500 vouchers for specific programs to help offset housing costs. At this point, 20 local vouchers are committed to the 55-unit Gage East Apartments.

Morris said the local Jeremiah Program effort is hoping another 20 can be dedicated to the new project,

Without the housing vouchers, she said the local program would need to raise more funds to offset costs.

“I want to make sure when we have this building it’s going to go,” she said, noting the Jeremiah Program requires obtaining at least a year’s worth of operational expenses before construction begins.

The operating costs would be higher if federal waivers aren’t available to offset rent costs, which Jeremiah Program sets at 30 percent of a tenant income, or an average of $200 per month.

Olmsted County Commissioner Ken Brown, who serves on the HRA board as well as the local Jeremiah Program board, said the vouchers could be considered an investment for the county because the program’s participants likely already are receiving county support.

“They are in our system, whether it’s for child care, transportation, rent assistance or so on,” he said. “When they leave, they are off the system. They have a job as stable, tax-paying citizens.

“So, there is a return on the investment.”

Brown encouraged his fellow commissioners to consider the investment as a way to reduce future cost. He said Jeremiah Program’s 20-year history has proven it to be a good investment in other communities.

“This is a program that is attempting to get them off the system,” he said.

The HRA board, which includes Olmsted County’s seven county commissioners and one HUD program user, Angela Davey, will be asked on May 15 to approve the dedication of the vouchers.


Originally published by Post Bulletin


Two Generations of Jeremiah Volunteers


Our volunteers embody our two-generation approach to transforming lives!

Trenda and Savana are a mother-daughter duo who are both committed to Jeremiah and serve our families in unique capacities. Trenda serves on the Jeremiah board and Savana is co-chair of Jeremiah’s young professional group, Propel. Both of these amazing women love empowering our Jeremiah families through their volunteer work.

Savana says of her mom, “I am always learning from my mom. I mirror her a lot and follow in her footsteps (including volunteering with Jeremiah!).” One of Trenda’s favorite Jeremiah moments is graduation. “It’s so inspiring to hear about the journey each mom has taken, and such an honor to celebrate with them,” she says of Jeremiah graduating families.

Trenda was first drawn to Jeremiah when she was a single mom herself, raising Savana and her sister. Trenda made a commitment, when she had the time and resources, she would give back to Jeremiah. She has since joined Jeremiah’s board and has been volunteering for seven years. Recently, she introduced Savana to Jeremiah as well and Savana knew without hesitation that she “wanted to be part of the impact and legacy for which Jeremiah is known.”

Thank you, Trenda and Savana, for your work on behalf of all the families at Jeremiah!