IPR Community Service: Open Arms

Open Arms of Minnesota volunteers

IPR Staff (left to right): Nathan O’Brian, Joe Sadowski, Sue Ferkingstad, Jason Koskovich, Rebecca Buller, Norbert Kreuzer, Nastacia Maas, Tanya Norman, Mitch Hare, Jeff DesLauriers

This year, Dean of Education Rebecca Buller decided it was time to be of service in a different way. And like all acts of charity, she had no idea how that decision would reverberate, not just in the community, but right here at IPR as well..

IPR has a yearlong commitment to community service. Instructors regularly lead classes in service projects that bring community members into the studios and classrooms, and bring students out into the greater community. But once each year, staff and faculty join together to be of service on one project. In years past, IPR has been a participant in the adopt-a-river project, to help keep banks of the Mississippi clean.

Rebecca was looking for something that IPR staff could take on that would really connect with people in the entire Twin Cities Metro. “The more I read about Open Arms of Minnesota, the more I felt it was a good fit for IPR. Open Arms isn’t flashy, it is earthy,” she said.

What Rebecca did not realize was how close to home Open Arms was. When Rebecca announced the 2015 service project, IPR Administrative Assistant Trish Williams was thrilled. Trish lives with multiple sclerosis and she’s been a client of Open Arms of Minnesota since 2009. “It’s because of Open Arms that I can work a full-time job and live a very happy and productive life,” said Trish.

“One of the many symptoms that people with MS have to deal with is fatigue which can make the easiest of tasks such as preparing meals on a daily basis a challenge, ” Trish went on to explain. ” Open Arms… makes things easier by reducing my stress and helping me to conserve my energy, which is key when it comes to having to manage the other daily challenges of MS.”

Open Arms of Minnesota is a non-profit organization that delivers free meals that are tailored to the needs of people who suffer from cancer, HIV/Aids, multiple sclerosis, and ALS. In 2014, Open Arms’ community of over 2,400 volunteers worked with staff chefs and nutritional specialists to cook and deliver 470,000 meals. They serve clients in 106 Twin Cities zip codes – 800 clients, dependents, and caregivers.

On Community Service day, IPR staff were given a tour of the facilities along with a brief history of the non-profit and its founder Bill Rowe, who started the project by cooking meals in his apartment for a friend with HIV/Aids. Staff were divided up and sent out into the city to deliver the custom meals. “Feeding people is important,” Rebecca stated, “basic needs are being met for those who have health conditions and where the right nutrition will make the difference to life quality. ”

And how did Trish Williams feel about IPR volunteering for an organization that is so important to her? “I was very touched that IPR wanted to support Open Arms. It speaks volumes to me and shows me that IPR is not only the place where I work but a wonderful and compassionate group of people who are family to me. For that, I am forever blessed.”

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