“I was—I am—an alcoholic,” said Melody Gulbrantson. “On my own, I entered an AA recovery program. My sister cared for my children, but my son gave her trouble. I took him to live with me, but the house I was renting didn’t allow children, so I got kicked out. My savings ran out.

“Then I found a Community Resource Center brochure. I was desperate, so I called. It was the best call I ever made.”

A project of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, Minn., the Community Resource Center (CRC) originated when parishioners, responding to the 2008 economic crash, assessed federal, state and city social service programs, looking for gaps. The six-pastor congregation, some 10,000 strong, made connections within the county and with charitable organizations and churches of various denominations.

Then, in 2011, the congregation opened the CRC on its premises to offer holistic help with basic needs, health and wellness, temporary housing, employment and technology.

Kris Mason is one of CRC’s two caseworkers, consulting with clients to identify and overcome barriers to housing and employment. This can vary from getting an old eviction expunged from their record to helping them find the necessary tools for a better job.

“Each new day I come to work with the hope and anticipation of receiving good news from one of my current or past clients,” Mason said. “Someone may have found housing or a job. At day’s end, I’m exhausted but filled with the satisfaction of having planted seeds for the long term.”

The CRC offers a welcoming space with offices for individual counseling and a bank of computers for clients to use in job searches. READ MORE