Rosemount coordinator marshalls support for families
Rosemount Family Resource Center’s leader to be honored during parade
Before Shira Rabinowicz became the coordinator of the Rosemount Family Resource Center, there was little in the way of programs and the center had only two or three volunteers.
Six years later, one would be hard pressed to find a day or a waking hour that goes by without something special happening at the outreach location of Burnsville-based nonprofit 360 Communities.
While Rabinowicz deflects much of the credit for the work that’s being done there, she won’t be able to shy away from it this Saturday as grand marshal of the Rosemount Leprechaun Days Grand Parade.
She’s being recognized as the catalyst who has led to the development of a vibrant community gathering place that’s safe, fun and ready to help in many ways.
“Our volunteers do so much,” Rabinowicz said of the scores of volunteers in Rosemount. “They build meaningful relationships and trust with the families that come to us.”
Among the programs that have started since Rabinowicz came to Rosemount are those that offer homework help, family support, additional night and weekend openings of the food shelf, a gardening program, the Friendship Club and a teen girls group.
She said all of those programs happened because of the efforts of volunteers.
“I think when things happen organically, they stick,” Rabinowicz said, who started her work as a domestic violence victim’s advocate at the Burnsville Police Department about 11 years ago. “When things work, the people’s hearts have to be in it.”
Within the first few weeks of taking the job in Rosemount, she knew the community was the kind that could generate that kind of action.
After a chance meeting landed her a speaking engagement at Rosemount United Methodist Church in those first few weeks, her talk opened the door for several volunteers from the church, which led to them recruiting their own friends.
Another casual connection led to one of the greatest sources of the center’s volunteers.
Rabinowicz said Rosemount resident Teresa Paetznick walked by the center one day and wondered what it was all about.
After Paetznick heard Rabinowicz talk about the organization, she remarked something to the effect that she had never known it had existed.
Paetznick then introduced the Glendalough at Evermoor volunteer group to the center and now the group opens the center’s food shelf on the third Saturday of every month.
They conduct food drives, they raise money and send volunteers to help with programs.
“I met all of these amazing people who are so kind-hearted,” Rabinowicz said. “They all wanted to get involved.”
In addition to running a food shelf, which serves up to 4,500 people every month, one of the most important functions of the center is tutoring and mentoring for children and teens.
Programs help preschool through high school-age students in all areas of curriculum with homework help and even educational field trips. Rabinowicz said the center has forged great working connections with all Rosemount schools to provide guidance in how to train volunteers in tutoring methods.
Connections with local churches have been invaluable sources of volunteers, food shelf donations and other support services.
Two churches are helping provide activities and food for picnics this week during Leprechaun Days and this year’s Night to Unite.
Rabinowicz said the picnics and other special events have helped to make people not feel so isolated and has neighbors relying more on each other.
Another area in which the center has made great strides is through its family advocates.
This program pairs an advocate with a family to help them through difficult times whether it be financial, communication needs or domestic violence.
“They go above and beyond in every single capacity,” Rabinowicz said of the advocates. “It’s amazing to see what that does for families.”
She said they are giving hope and comfort to people who often are embarrassed to ask for help.
The change Rabinowicz has helped encourage isn’t expected to end anytime soon.
She’s a member of the Rosemount Leaders Group, which will forward some recommendations to the 360 Communities’ Convening to help move Rosemount forward in a positive direction with initiatives like the ones the Resource Center has led.
With Rabinowicz and several like-minded folks dedicated to building a better future, it appears the potential to change people’s lives for good is limitless.