To make real change in communities throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, Twin Cities Relief Initiative started with free supplies and hot meals.
ST PAUL, Minn. – For Rachel Nelson and other leaders and volunteers involved in the Twin Cities Relief Initiative, the mission is clear: step into wards in Minneapolis and St. Paul to provide the family with warm food, fresh produce, and essential supplies. All for free.
“It’s about a community that can come and take care of itself. And it has to be free, you know. It has to be free,” Rachel said.
After George Floyd death over the summer, Rachel and dozens of volunteers worked with Rob Steib and Twin Cities Stand Together (TCST) to serve and distribute hot meals to peaceful protesters and families on December 38 and Chicago in south Minneapolis. Over the summer, Rachel Nelson and some of the original group leaders involved in TCST, including Tim Fisher, Bryant Jones, Ronnie Guy, Megan Nelson, and other volunteers, moved in different directions. They now operate as the Twin Cities Relief Initiative (TCRI) group.
Today, Twin Cities Assistance Initiative has more than 130 volunteers.
“The first volunteers are those who have nothing,” Rachel said. “They gave it all back. And so, it turned into a family.”
On September 19, TCRI hosted a farmers market on the corner of Payne Avenue and Maryland Avenue on St. Petersburg. Paul. They distributed 400 donated boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables. More than 100 baby items were picked up even before the market was busy. And of course everyone who comes gets a plate of hot food cooked by the volunteers.
Rachel says feeding people for free is the first step in transforming the give and take experience. “Give them a full stomach, it changes the conversation.”
Creating a different experience for the people they serve is another hallmark of TCRI’s mission. “It’s not like going to a food bank. It’s not like going to the Salvation Army. And it’s not like getting used goods, give me things. It’s like going to your friend’s hangout, going to the barbecue, getting everything you need,” Rachel said.
“It’s not like you’re not worth the Similac brand name. You’re nothing more than a ham sandwich. You know, we’re all here together. And it changes the experience. They don’t give. They don’t take. It’s kind of a collective. We, You know, we did this together. “
Rachel, a mother herself, says she sacrifices her job and dedicates most of her time now to working with the Twin Cities Relief Initiative and the people they serve. Once he realized how much family he really needed, there was no turning back.
“Once you see how bad it is and once you see life, you can change with, for me, the easiest thing to do. Like what, what do we do? This community, we can take care of each other. Free for free!”
If you’d like to become involved with the Twin Cities Relief Initiative, you can email Rachel at [email protected].