On Minneapolis’s Lake Street, just south of downtown, you’ll find a vibrant and eclectic mix of locally owned businesses, from clothing stores to restaurants to grocery stores. They are owned by a diverse population with bright dreams, including Black, Central American, Mexican, Southeast Asian, and Indian people/business owners, as well as people/business owners from the various First Nations indigenous to Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.
It’s a neighborhood that sees challenges, often defined by housing for those with low incomes, absentee landlords, and lack of investment in the area. Drugs and sex trafficking have also plagued the neighborhood. Then last year, the area was literally set on fire in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
Even so, only a mile and a half away from George Floyd Square, there’s a shining new light on the corner of Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street: a colorful multi-million dollar building that represents a beacon of hope for the community.
Initiated and managed by The Family Partnership, a 142-year-old non-profit that is dedicated to building strong families, vital communities, and better futures for children, the new facility is an investment in the lives of people who many of us look past and in the future of the Lake Street community. Molly Greenman, President and CEO, provides a tour of the new facility.
With its preschool classrooms, therapy rooms, counseling rooms, playground, and laundry facilities, the new social services headquarters brings hope and dignity to individuals and families who have found the world to be less than hospitable. In her own words, Greenman sheds light on what this modern, warm, welcoming building means to the organization, to this community rising from years of disinvestment, and to people struggling through deep poverty and trauma.
“We bring about that mission in a number of ways, all of which are under a two-generation approach.” Greenman said. “We believe for kids to succeed, families need to succeed. For communities to succeed, they need families to succeed, as well. So, we have early education and care through therapeutic preschools, parent development, and engagement through family home visiting, mental health services, and support/advocacy for survivors of sex trafficking.”
The new location was purposely selected to relocate The Family Partnership’s headquarters from downtown Minneapolis to Lake Street. There are numerous benefits to being physically located where the community needs are. The people on Lake street can see that this building as not just a place providing services, but also an investment in their future as a neighborhood.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work in this neighborhood for many, many years, but we weren’t actually in the neighborhood. So, to be in here and have a presence in a facility that the community can actually use for resources, whether it’s mental health or childcare, preschool, or our communal spaces, that’s really important and we’re very excited to get started post-COVID.”
Molly Greenman, President and CEO, The Family Partnership
Having a healthy, welcoming, and functional facility is critical to the residents they serve and the employees coming to work every day. This is hard work and they deserve to have a beautiful space.
“When you’re coming in for services, often you’re in not a very good place in your life. You’re not feeling very good about yourself, and probably your family, and maybe life in general. So, to come to a place that says, ‘this is here for you.’ It’s saying, ‘You’re worth it, you’re worth something.’”
The vision of The Family Partnership is a Twin Cities where every child and every family, regardless of income, ethnic origin, or race, can reach their full potential. This specific corner of Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street is diverse and dynamic — but also distressed. The community sees everything from drug use and human trafficking to families walking and individuals waiting for the bus to get to work.
“It’s sort of ground zero. When we thought about the values we wanted to promote with this building, we came up with welcoming, accessible, but also safe and confidential. Holistic, integrated, and flexible. We wanted to build a facility that will be able to support changes, programs, and family needs for generations to come,” Greenman said.
It’s been an intense and emotional year for our country and certainly in the Twin Cities. For an entire community looking to pull together and create a better future, the new building spotlights one of the first steps in that direction.
As Greenman aptly concluded, “You can’t do this work without having hope.”