Volunteer mobilizes community support, helping people moving out of homelessness

When Kat Vann entered retirement, she decided that she would be the best volunteer she could be. Kat coordinated donation drives for Avivo and Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative that effectively provided household move-in items for 46 residents moving out of homelessness and into home.

Kat knew about Avivo through Beacon, her former employer and Avivo housing partner. When Kat worked for Beacon, she organized congregations to advocate for deeply affordable homes as well as to provide shelter for families experiencing homelessness through Beacon’s Family Moving Forward program. “When you host families [experiencing homelessness], it is like sharing humanity,” tells Kat. “It left its mark on me.”

Avivo volunteer, Kat Vann, pictured to the right of Avivo’s director of volunteer services Brittany Biggers.

From providing direct service, learning about housing disparities, coordinating donation drives, and advocating for increased funding at the Capitol, Kat is committed to community change. “We can do big things together if we step into it,” she shares.

For the holidays last December, Kat took on organizing a donations’ drive to provide welcome kits for adults moving into the new supportive housing development Bimosedaa, developed and owned by Beacon. “When you move into an apartment, you take for granted that you have things like bedding, towels, and cleaning supplies,” shares Kat.

Bimosedaa provides 46 units of deeply affordable housing designed specifically to serve Native Americans moving out of homelessness. Three church congregations that meet at New Branches in Minneapolis and nine other Beacon congregations provided hygiene products and household supplies to help house Bimosedaa’s first five residents.

The welcome kits included two sets of dishes and flatware, utensils, pots and pans, cleaning supplies, bedding, pillows, and hygiene items. A church-based quilting group, another group called Sew Good Goods, and LHB Architects also contributed unique home items as part of the welcome kits.

“Now all units at Bimosedaa are stocked with welcome kits, and we are providing overflow things that residents might need – like a mini-supply store,” says Kat.

“We are keeping the need for housing at the forefront,” adds Kat. “There are opportunities for advocacy, working with elected leaders and decision makers at the Capitol, and helping with donations. There is something for everyone to get involved with, helping people move forward.”

If you would like to volunteer or coordinate a group to put together unique kits for Avivo participants, check out this month’s opportunities. An online gift is always a good way to support Avivo’s work!