Faith partnership shares success

Members of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Faith and Community Partnership gathered recently to share their successes.

The meeting was led by Dr. Jinger Gustafson, associate superintendent of middle schools and chairperson of the district’s Partnership’s Steering Committee.

Numerous schools and their faith and community partners were represented at the meeting.

Through partnerships, schools, members of the faith community and community groups have worked together to respond to those in need.

The partnerships had an opportunity to share their work with the group at large.

Many faith and community partners are providing Anoka-Hennepin families with food and gifts at the holidays, holding food and hygiene item drives for schools’ food shelves and supplying cold-weather clothing.

Rev. Wayne Skaff from Northgate Church shared a story that when he presented a new coat to a student at River Trail Learning Center, she thanked him and said it was the first new coat she’s ever had.

Amy Harnack, a counselor at Champlin Park High School, and her partners shared the success of their back to school event last year.

Local stylists and barbers donated their time and provided 180 haircuts to students.

The event also included free school supplies and clothing.

Harnack will host the event again this year Aug. 6.

It was such a success that plans are in the works to hold a back to school event Aug. 6 at Coon Rapids High School too.

During the meeting, partners were asked to answer the following questions on a form: praise, we really like; polish, we would change; and ponder, we wonder if.

Many participants praised the willingness of people to step forward to create partnerships.

In areas to polish, a suggestion was made that schools create a calendar of events and needs for those events to help the faith and community partners plan how they can be most helpful.

Ponders included how to best help students during the summer months and find ways to involve students and families with a school’s partner.

For example, a student from Crossroads High School has provided background guitar music during Family Table events held at the school’s partner, Epiphany Catholic Church.