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Faith in Action Changes

November 2, 2012

Faith in Action is not gone. It has, however, gone through a few changes and will soon reappear as the Sheyenne Valley Community Outreach Center. The Snowball Fling, the annual vendor show sponsored by Faith in Action, will also take place again this year on Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hi-Liner Activity Center (HAC).

The new program will offer everything Faith in Action did and more, according to co-founder Vicki Grafing. The new center will house the Community Closet, where those in need can get clothing and household items. The new Community Closet will be open Monday - Friday at the old St. Paul's church on 608 4th St. SW. The new location will make it more convenient, especially to people on foot, said Grafing.

In addittion, the community center will take over the coat drive and back to school project previously spearheaded by Faith in Action and will also offer services for the homeless, including shelter facilities and housing referrals; emergency food; referral services for senior citizens; transportation related to services; counseling by co-founder Amy Tahran who is a counselor with a background in school and Christian counseling; small groups such as counseling and book studies; and classes that include personal finance and budgeting, parenting and how to interview for a job also conducted by Tahran. Eventually the pair would like to add a harvest project with produce from a CSA (Community Supported Garden).

Cindy Nickerson, whose specialty is geriatrics, will lead the senior citizen program, because that is where her expertise lies, she said. Particularly the senior citizen's program. When seniors, especially those new to the area, need services with health care or Meals on Wheels or the like, Nickerson will have the resources to refer them to the correct agency.

"We don't want to duplicate services," said Tahran.

"She (Nickerson) has a huge heart for the elderly," Grafing boasted.

Currently, Faith in Action runs on an extremely limited basis, said Grafing. She is available for emergencies, however, by e-mail at tobascomom@msn.com or by message at Valley City Faith in Action on Facebook. Eventually, services will be available on a walk-in basis at the new facility.

Grafing and Tahran envisioned their project as a way to help the community's most vulnerable people, the homeless and the poor. The Faith in Action program had outgrown its vision, and the pair wanted to find a way to fill the gap, said Grafing.

They also realized how difficult, both physically and emotionally, it was for people to ask for help, Grafing added, so making the center easy to access as well as having a staff that would treat clients with respect was paramount. She noted that most of the homeless in the area came here for good jobs, and many of them now earn good wages, it's just difficult for someone to start over.

"There's a huge misconception about the homeless in Valley City," said Grafing. "We have people sleeping in tents, living in cars or garages, or living with friends. We have good jobs, we just don't have enough housing."

To help with their homeless services, Grafing and Tahran have enlisted the help of several area ministers and other volunteers. Use of the old church was donated, and many upgrades added to the building, especially those necessary to turn the basement into a homeless shelter have also been donated.

Volunteers will be needed to help provide all the services Grafing and Tahran, and they have already begun getting offers from churches and from businesses who's employees are interested in helping out, but eventually, more volunteers will be needed.

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