NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday July 25th 2017

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Breaking New Ground

BY SUE RIESGRAF

On a beautiful fall afternoon many gathered on the site of our NEW HOME to participate in a meaningful and vibrant ceremony. Banyan made history when we broke NEW ground on September 15th!  Over 500 people – community members, donors, supporters, and partners – shared in the celebration of this milestone in Banyan’s journey. “The groundbreaking represented many dreams coming true.  The community celebration was a reflection of all the joy that we feel in anticipation of this new home for our youth and families to grow and learn together”, says Joani Essenburg, Co-Founder and Executive Director.

It was a day of many, many smiles and lots of laughter. Blessings for our children, giving thanks for God’s provision for this great gift, and blessing the neighborhood that we are so much a part of. The kids said their favorite part was the food trucks, the bounce house, playing soccer, the dancing, the shovels, and the dirt. “This was a historic moment in Banyan’s story: a permanent home that will allow us to double the youth and families we work with in the Phillips neighborhood” says Essenburg. “For me it was a bit surreal—a day that we have been talking about and planning for many years had finally arrived.”

I think Maricruz Arocho, Banyan Family Advocate and neighborhood resident, said it well with her closing thought:

Having a place to go is: HOME

Having a community is: FAMILY

Having both is: A BLESSING

Banyan purchased this parcel of land (2529 13th Ave S) from the Minneapolis Park Board in early 2013 and has been running a capital campaign (Growing Responsibly) to raise the funds to build the permanent home – debt free. To date, Banyan has raised more than $4.8 million dollars from generous donors and anticipate $1 million dollars of New Market Tax Credit revenue.

Construction will begin this fall and the Banyan Center will open early summer of 2016, just in time for summer programs. The final design is a 32,000 square foot Community Center complete with preschool space, gymnasium, community rooms, youth development rooms, study rooms, commercial kitchen, laundry, and computer lab.

Banyan is a Christian Community Development organization, founded in 1998, and rooted in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis to develop youth, strengthen families, and create community.

There is neighborhood success at Banyan – youth, family and community are synchronized to achieve the greatest impact. Youth engage in year round out of school time programs to succeed in school, build life skills, and cultivate healthy relationships (100% of Banyan youth graduate from high school). Family is strengthened with Banyan staff building on assets and bringing together parents and children (Banyan annual retention rate is 94%).   Community is strongest when neighbors know each other and begin to care for each other (99% of Banyan families participate in Banyan events).  The Lighthouse Network is Banyan’s brand of community building through the 22 block clubs currently in action in the Phillips Neighborhood.

Sue Riesgraf is Development Director of Banyan Community

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