In 2010, Hope for the Community opened.
“More than anything else, it just kind of happened,” said founder and president Dr. Al Goracke. It was the end of the recession. “I’m a pastor. I was talking to my congregation and asked them to connect with old friends. I connected with an old friend and he said, ‘You know you should take corporate surplus and feed people. And I can get it for you.’ And he did. The first week we opened up we didn’t have any industrial coolers or freezers, and we served 27 families. Now, this year, we’re on pace to serve 28,800 families.
The numbers of people they help each week has grown, as well as the number of volunteers who come to help.
“This ministry started out as the outreach of a church but now its run completely by the community, pretty much, so people hear about it and they come and they serve,” said Goracke.
One thing he has seen through the years is that there is not one type of person who visits a food shelf.
“There’s a stereotype of a person who needs help, but you know what? This is Blaine. We are the biggest city in Anoka County,” he said. “In the suburbs the need crosses socioeconomic barriers, gender barriers, and age barriers as well.”
At Hope for the Community, everyone is welcome. No matter where they live.
“We’ve never turned anyone away. Anyone comes in, needs help, we help them. If they’re homeless, we help them. If they live in a different city, we help them. We have people who come all the way from Duluth, believe it or not, to come to this place. We help them,” said Goracke. “We never turn anyone away.”
Many food shelf visitors want to share their story of why they are here. A few times Al has heard people comment on what people are wearing, or what they are driving, and whether or not they truly need the food. He says, you probably don’t know the whole story.
“Don’t worry about a stigma when you come here,” said Goracke. “We’re just your fellow citizen, we’re brothers and sisters trying to help our community.”
Hope for the Community in the middle of a fundraising campaign right now, trying to bring in $25,000 in the month of December to help meet the need that grows during the holiday season.
“Our buying power is great,” said Goracke. “Two dollars can feed family for a week. They get about 50 pounds of food.”
They are working on expanding their services. In addition to the Blaine location, they recently opened a second location in Elko/New Market that is open once a month, and they a looking at opening another location a little further north.
“We believe we will eventually be serving 1000 families each week,” said Goracke. “We are about dignity, generosity, and about hope. We want everyone to feel that they’re created in God’s image and that we’re here, just like them.”
If you’d like to get involved and volunteer your time or donate, you can learn more at hope for the community dot com.
Hope for the Community is located inside Hope Church on 109th Avenue in Blaine, just west of highway 65. Their food distribution is every Thursday from 2:30 to 5:00 pm.