How Can We Help?

The conversation began with “How can we help the Community Action Center?”  Now, more than 15 months later, this one question has led to numerous ideas, opportunities, and connections.

The Community Action Center of Northfield works with countless volunteers who assist the Food Shelf with food recovery, organization of supplies, shopping for clients, and filling many additional volunteer roles.  Gordy and Betty Olson are two of these volunteers who jump in to help wherever needed, including supporting the work of the CAC through COVID-safe volunteer opportunities over the past year.

At the beginning of 2020, Gordy was working with the Stewardship Committee at Bethel Lutheran Church, and began to think about how Bethel could continue to support the CAC in new ways.  So Gordy gave Scott Wopata, Executive Director of the CAC, a call and asked “How can we help the CAC?”  The funny thing is that Scott was just about to call Bethel and chat about the same thing!  This one question led to continued conversations over the following 15+ months (with a few interruptions by a pandemic) as the two organizations dreamed, got others involved, and began to plan for new opportunities. 

Throughout the pandemic, Gordy and Betty have continued to volunteer with the CAC, helping to pack boxes for drive through food pick-up events on the north side of town, even stepping in to help with the drive through events if needed.  While volunteers supported the work of the CAC, conversations continued about the possibility of a satellite food shelf on the north side of town, where 60-70% of the CAC’s clients currently live.  The drive through events were a creative addition to the CAC’s programs, but wouldn’t it be great if there was a more permanent location for years to come?

Fast forward to Spring 2021 and the ideas have continued to come together from partners across the community.  The Northfield School District offered space in the Northfield Community Education Center.  Bethel Lutheran Church, Growing Up Healthy, Carleton College, AmeriCorps, and numerous individuals are now partnering to create and support a satellite food shelf on the north end of town!  As Gordy said, “Bringing groups together fulfills the mission of all organizations.  For example, the CAC is the hands and feet of the social justice mission at Bethel.”

When the first question was asked, Gordy had no idea where it would lead, but he asked anyway.  Gordy and Betty encourage you to think about what question you would ask and how you would like to get involved in the community.  Anyone can have a conversation, and someone else might have the same ideas and dreams as you, so take the first step and ask how you can help!