Open Arms of Minnesota

An Open Letter to the Minnesota State Legislature

Zygi Wilf, the owner of the Minnesota Vikings, plans to come to you – our members of the Legislature – to once again request that the state help fund a new Vikings stadium. The Vikings are willing to pony up $318 million – roughly one third of the cost of a new venue. The remaining two thirds of the $954 million project – a staggering $635 million – would, if Mr. Wilf and his partners have their way, come from public sources. The funding would keep the Vikings in Minnesota, result in a new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, and would be a boon – the owners say – to the economy by creating 5,500 jobs and $500 million of work for contractors.

Well, good friends at the State Legislature, if you are willing to look at construction projects as a way to boost the economy, I have another one for you to consider.

Open Arms of Minnesota’s Kitchen Campaign: Building the Future of Open Arms is an $8.1 million capital campaign that will allow us to construct a state-of-the-art kitchen to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to over 1,000 people in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area who are living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other chronic and progressive diseases. To date we have secured $5.4 million (two thirds of our overall budget) in private support for our building.

With the help of dedicated volunteers we have been providing this service, free of charge to our clients, for over 22 years. Seven days a week our kitchen prepares breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Five days a week volunteers deliver those meals throughout the metropolitan area. Nearly every day of the week we receive an additional request for service.

In 2008, we prepared and delivered 259,000 meals. Since 1986, we have prepared and delivered over 1.5 million meals.

Open Arms makes it possible for people who are too ill to go grocery shopping, too weak to prepare meals for themselves and their dependent children, and too poor to purchase nutritious groceries, to lead healthier and more independent lives. Services like ours – although sometimes hard to quantify – ultimately save the state a significant amount of money by reducing hospital stays and nursing home admissions for some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens.

Our new building (which incidentally will help revitalize the intersection of 25th and Bloomington Avenue in the heart of the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis) will allow us to make an even greater contribution to the quality of life of thousands of Twin Citians for decades to come – not just on a few Sunday afternoons and an occasional Monday evening every year.

So, state legislators, if you are looking for an investment that will result in a significant return for years to come, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the work of Open Arms and our capital campaign (www.openarmsmn.org).

Oh, and by the way, if you can’t support our project with public funds we won’t take our ball and go somewhere else. We will still construct our new building and stay in the Twin Cities, striving to achieve our ultimate goal: a community where no one who is ill has to go hungry.

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