In the Midst of a Pandemic,
The Dignity Center is a Beacon of Stability

For many of our participants, all plans for the future were throttled by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a recent community conversation, our participants told us that their job prospects were interrupted and that their basic means of survival were threatened, meaning that access to resources was even more crucial. The Dignity Center has helped them find the support they needed to cover costs on bills, rent, and other necessary expenses. Our help has gone a long way in making sure our participants are able to meet their basic needs.
Providing a sense of friendliness and welcome was also critical to the experience of our participants during the pandemic. Our participants expressed the importance of knowing that The Dignity Center is a secure place that promotes a sense of community and camaraderie. They described The Dignity Center as a place where they could both grab a hot meal and interact safely with fellow participants and volunteers in a socially-distant environment. 
In addition to reflecting on their material and social needs, our participants expressed how their emotional wellbeing had been impacted by COVID-19. They told us that they experienced loss and feelings of alienation when businesses and organizations shut down or temporarily closed their doors. Many described the negative impact of the pandemic on their mental health. In a time when our participants' lives were filled with uncertainty, The Dignity Center was one of the few places they could continue to count on. For our participants, we were a beacon of stability and consistency in the midst of so many unknowns.
Throughout these conversations, our participants have underscored the importance of having a place in which they feel at home, a place which provides them with the tools they need, a place that greets them with dignity and familiarity, and a place they can count on. For our participants, even in the midst of a pandemic, The Dignity Center has been and continues to be that place. Even as we transition into a COVID-19 winter, all of us at The Dignity Center are working to support our participants on their journey towards a more stable future. We are so grateful for your support, and we couldn't do it without you. 
Thank you to each of you, our dear friends, neighbors, and community members! We are in this journey together!

--Mary Martin, Director of The Dignity Center 


"The Dignity Center is a Very Helpful Place:"
A Reflection from Eddie, a Participant

We recently sat down with Eddie, one of our participants, and asked him what he likes about coming to The Dignity Center. Here is his experience, in his own words.

"I'm Eddie. I come to The Dignity Center because it is a very helpful place. Not only can I get a hot meal and coffee, but The Dignity Center has computers to help people find employment. The volunteers and staff also help me find transportation to get to a job once I find one. I appreciate everyone at The Dignity Center!"

Eddie is pictured above, applying for a job -- one of the many opportunities that our participants take advantage of at The Dignity Center. Thanks for the kind words, Eddie! We appreciate you, too, and are so grateful for each of our community members who are working hard on their path to stability. We love our participants!

"Joy in Volunteering" at The Dignity Center:
Janet Dunn Reflects on Her Volunteer Experience

We recently asked our volunteer Janet Dunn to reflect on her experience with The Dignity Center. Here's what she had to say:

"I've been volunteering at The Dignity Center for many years. I keep coming week by week because of The Dignity Center's commitment to helping participants regain stability in housing and stability in employment.

I work with a small, well-organized team that welcomes participants at the front door of the Walker Mansion. A welcome team member signs in the participants, checks their temperature, and asks whether they have health insurance. From there the participants are welcome to head downstairs for a meal while they wait to meet with an advocate.

The Dignity Center is part of a coalition of churches working together to end homelessness. At The Dignity Center, volunteers and college interns focus on individual interviews with the participants. In addition, intake team members work one-on-one with each participant to assess current needs.

The Dignity Center receives food from Second Harvest Meal Connect program, Appetite for Change, and Lutheran Social Services. The donations from these organizations help The Dignity Center provide meals for over 50 people three times a week. Every day that The Dignity Center is open, participants can eat a hot meal. Often, participants are also able to take a meal with them when they leave through the "Dignity To-Go" program. Network churches also make "Sandwiches of Love" and bring them to The Dignity Center for distribution.

I often mention to friends my joy in volunteering at The Dignity Center. It gives me a chance to put my hand to the wheel and feel like I'm able to help meet an urgent need in society."

Thank you, Janet, and all of our volunteers for "putting your hands to the wheel" at The Dignity Center!

Meet the Interns: MSW Students Katie, Caroline, and Cortney Share Their Stories

Meet Katie, Caroline, and Cortney, our current Master of Social Work interns! Katie and Caroline are students at St. Thomas University, while Cortney is studying at St. Mary's University. All three of them are required to log 400 hours of internship work over the Fall and Spring semesters this year. They each work at The Dignity Center from around 8:30am-12:30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Katie, Caroline, and Cortney are glad this internship allows them to work in-person at The Dignity Center instead of doing a virtual, online internship. They feel that the services provided by The Dignity Center are so critical in these unpredictable times. As a former Resident Assistant who graduated from St. Olaf College, Katie knows the value of having safe and supportive housing! In her own words, Katie says, "The Dignity Center is so welcoming that I can see why participants are happy to come here and get help."  Cortney adds, "Assessing participants gives me a rich one-on-one connection with them.  When they come again, I know their names and can welcome them by name."
All three of the interns have the opportunity to shadow staff and volunteers at The Dignity Center, and bear witness to the obstacles facing participants. They look forward to learning more ways to better connect clients and services. They also have a chance to work with some of The Dignity Center's community partners, such as AlignMPLS, which offers emergency rental assistance. As Caroline says, "I get to listen as a committee from AlignMPLS reviews applications. I learn about their criteria and see this important process in action. As part of my internship I also help participants fill out applications for the AlignMPLS program, therefore helping people receive rental assistance. I have a chance to see how rental assistance and access to housing opens doors." 
Katie, Caroline, and Cortney appreciate that their internship gives them the flexibility to experience various roles at the Dignity Center.  As Cortney told us, "The Dignity Center's mission and vision statements really stood out to me.  Those values are instilled in the work of The Dignity Center: empowering participants to take charge of their journey back to stability." 
Thank you, Katie, Caroline, and Cortney! We are so glad to have you here and to partner with the St. Thomas and St. Mary's Master of Social Work programs. We love our community partners!

THANK YOU for Supporting The Dignity Center at our Fall Fundraiser!

Click to watch The Dignity Center's Fall Fundraiser, "Sharing the Journey: We're In This Together, from October 6, 2020

A big THANK YOU to all of our dear Dignity Center supporters for helping us make our Fall Fundraiser a success!
This was our first ever online event, we are so grateful for your generous gifts to The Dignity Center during our Fall Fundraiser! We loved giving you updates on what we are doing during the pandemic. We are so glad we can still "be" with you all in this manner. 

We are so appreciative of your support at this difficult time. Your donation enables us to extend our support to participants with housing and educational assistance while we work with them long-term. We are still finding out how much we raised, and will let you all know as soon as we know!

Did you miss our fundraiser? Don't worry, donations are still accepted on our website! You can still watch the video of the event on our website as well. Visit our website by clicking this link: 

Again, thank you for all of your support, whether that support takes the form of time, talent, or treasure. We couldn't do our work without you, and we are proud to partner with you on this journey!

Missed the virtual event? Please consider making a gift online at, or by mail to The Dignity Center, 511 Groveland Ave, Minneapolis MN 55403.  

We love sharing this journey with you!

The Dignity Center is a Ministry of
Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church
The Dignity Center is located at 425 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403  |  612-435-1315
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