Staff in the Aanjibimaadizing program were able to help Mille Lacs Band families with over $800,000 in support thanks to a state grant program for housing assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kristian Theisz, Aanjibimaadizing Community Services Director, said, "We recognized that the community was going to have multiple and various needs due to COVID-19, so the Aanjibimaadizing staff all pulled together to work alongside the state to help with those needs, from electric and heat bills to past-due rent and mortgages. Needs are different in each family, and help comes in different ways, but we wanted to let everybody know that we appreciate being able to help the community."
During the process, staff heard stories that show the extent of need some families have faced — like the fear that lack of propane would mean they would need to turn on the stove and have the kids sleep in the kitchen to stay warm. "Thankfully, with the help we were able to provide, they didn’t have to do that," said Kristian.
The COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program provided payments to help prevent eviction, prevent homelessness, and maintain housing stability for eligible renters and homeowners. Eligible expenses included rent, mortgage, utilities, and other housing-related payments.
Aanjibimaadizing helped Band members with the required application.
Staff involved in day-to-day implementation (pictured below) included Tammy Moreland, Rachel Boyd, Bill Smith, Marlene Poukka (not pictured), Dondi Jonelle, Mary Boyd, Kaari Weyaus, Winona Crazy Thunder, Renee Allen, Winona Spaulding, Dawn Paro, Karen Pagnac, and Kristian Theisz.
Kristian and Aanjibimaadizing Executive Director Tammy Wickstrom provided oversight. "These staff served more than 650 people in three months," Tammy said. "They did an amazing job."
Kristian said Aanjibimaadizing will continue to aggressively seek additional funding to continue to help Band members with their needs. Watch the Inaajimowin, millelacsband.com, and Facebook for updates.