“By combining all of our efforts, we’re able to really have a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in our communities”, said Gwen Simonson, Vice Chair of the Shoreview Community Foundation and Treasurer of the Suburban Ramsey Emergency Coalition on our Cities Speak podcast last month.
The Importance of Forming Unified Coalitions
Gwen discussed the importance of having different perspectives in the coalition and how beneficial it was to have so many different people bringing in new connections and attention to issues other members may not be aware of. She specifically pointed to an instance in which a member brought on from another group presented the issue of not only food shortages in their community, but also people’s lack of ability to retrieve the food that is provided by food shelves and the like. This was a result of people not owning vehicles, and there weren’t bus lines that ran to food shelves. Since bringing that issue up the coalition has been able to coordinate deliveries of the food to people who need it.
Future Goals for the Coalition and How Others Can Help
“Where do they need the funds and do they need it quickly?” Gwen rhetorically asked, illustrating her thought process on what the best ways to move forward are in such an overwhelming time. There are obviously many issues plaguing the communities as a result of COVID-19 but Gwen believes that with strong organization and prioritizing the most immediate needs can be remedied to a significant degree. Gwen also hopes to continue communication with community and local government leaders to remain updated on what their greatest priorities should be.
She also gave examples of lower-tier projects that people who want to help out can participate in, like making masks. People are also encouraged to present ideas to the group for additional projects and initiatives that could be beneficial since no one is immune to the uncertainty of the current situation. Bigger level projects include a Bike and Drive fundraiser, where people can visit various landmarks in Roseville while raising awareness for the cause. Another upcoming project is a community raffle for various items including a coveted antique car. If another community group wants to be a part of the coalition, there is an application on the Suburban Ramsay Emergency Coalition website.
It’s clear through Gwen and the organization’s mentality that they are confident their foundation can and will continue to make a difference for the people disproportionately affected by the impact of the pandemic. On behalf of the organization, Gwen is imploring people to help in any way they can to support the Foundation’s efforts and vision for the future.