Over the years we have served almost 700 individuals in the two clubs. Services we provide include, but are not limited to providing a sense of belonging, socialization, teaching leisure and recreational skills, providing computer and Internet services, laundry facilities, educational opportunities, access to community activities, and community service opportunities. We also help people connect with other agencies to find the services they need to live successfully in the community. We currently have 270 active members. All services we provide are free to our members.
In Fergus Falls, together with the community, we were able to raise funds to purchase our building which is free and clear of debt. We have been able to maintain a debt free agency thanks to the many partners who come alongside us.
Our members report that A Place To Belong is their lifeline to success in their journey. One member sent us a letter stating, “this club literally saved my life. I had planned to end my life, then you sent me to ‘Trans$m’ where they helped me get work and even start my own business….Nowhere else can you come and spill your guts and get nothing but love and support”. Another member reported that before coming to A Place To Belong she lived in her pajamas, getting dressed only to go to the doctor, then returning home and getting back into her pajamas. After 2 years of active membership at AP2B, she was Volunteer of the Year with over 300 hours volunteer time. She has since attended Certified Peer Specialist training and is on staff as an intermittent employee in addition to her volunteer work.
Feeding the Hungry
While the mission of A Place To Belong does not include feeding the hungry, providing nutritious food options is part of helping our members succeed in their recovery. Because of the low income of many of our members, and the fact that they live alone and eating meals alone is no fun, many members come to the club to eat. In Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls alike, our food offerings continue to be the single most important service we provide. We have received funds for PartnerSHIP 4 Health to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. We also received funds from BCOW to purchase shares in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which provided us with a plethora of fresh vegetables which were eaten, canned or frozen.
Staff from both clubs are certified in Safe Food Handling, and while we do not have an approved kitchen for food preparation, we are very careful in our food handling practices. For the most part, we provide lunch options on a daily basis that offer raw fruits and vegetables. Members may help themselves and make salads and sandwiches. On Tuesday and Thursday in Detroit Lakes, and Wednesday in Fergus Falls, staff and members prepare a home cooked meal.
We receive left over food from the Food Harvest Program, including Caribou, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. We were saddened this fall when the Fergus Falls KFC closed, ending a multi-year commitment on their part to donate their excess chicken to the club. This continues in Detroit Lakes. In 2015 AP2B provided over 6700 meals, 932 in Detroit Lakes and 5778 in Fergus Falls.