MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fed up with violence in a North Minneapolis neighborhood, Jariland Spence turned her former sewing shop into a center for people in need, by providing meals, clothing and spiritual support.
Now, however, she’s hoping her non-profit, which relies on donations, can get a second chance, too, and just in time for Easter weekend.
“I don’t know if I am going to be here with the lights on or not,” said Spence.
Financial struggles closed the West Broadway center for more than three months last fall. Spence was evicted from her building last August, and returned in November.
Now, the money has run out again, with her gas and electric utilities in danger of being shut off before Easter.
“I don’t know if I should plan a menu or dinner or not, because I don’t know if our utilities are going to be on. I want to have Easter dinner on Good Friday. Resurrection — resurrecting the neighborhood,” said Spence.
People who rely on the center say they come for more than meals, but new beginnings. It’s the kind of place where former gang members trade the streets for a bible study.
“Even though I was once part of the problem in our community, today I stand for the solution,” said Warren Williams, who says he is better known as Lord W. Fresh.
“You can find a liquor store on every other corner, but it’s hard to find a prayer center,” said Ed Spencer, who ate his first meal at the center Thursday night. “It’s easy to spot trouble, but it’s hard to find around this neighborhood — a place that you can come and get something that is positive and meaningful.”
As a former seamstress, Spence has set out to change the fabric of North Minneapolis.
“Now, I am doing a different kind of sewing,” she said. “Just trying to sew into the lives of people to give them hope, a reason to wake up in the morning and do something better than they did yesterday.”
She dreams of a place stitched together by the generosity of others, who this Easter, could help the center rise from struggle once again.
“I hope when I come in on Good Friday, I’m hoping that the light comes on,” said Spence. “I am hoping I will turn the stove on and the heating element will come on. I have enough faith to believe it.”
Spence says she needs roughly $2,500 dollars in donations to keep the lights and gas on for this Easter dinner. Holiday dinners can feed up to 150 people.
If you would like to donate, go to her website’s homepage, where you can find a “donate” button.