BY JORDAN LANGER
Home Free in Plymouth not only provides a safe asylum for battered women and their children, it also offers recreational activities.
For the past 10 years, Children’s Program Coordinator Carlein Cloutier was able to use state funding to bring the residents, which can be up to 31 at a time, on field trips.
But last year the state changed the way Home Free was allowed to spend the funding, said Cloutier.
Because of budget constraints, the state no longer allows Home Free to spend money on activities; it wasn’t a necessity, she said.
Instead of bringing the children to the Minnesota Zoo or the Mall of America, Cloutier had to resort to free activities.
"When we found out we didn’t have the funding last year, we went from one playground to the next," she said.
It was not until Holy Name of Jesus Church in Medina gave a $3,400 grant to Home Free that Cloutier was again able to bring the residents on all day activities.
Although the Church has been a supporter of Home Free for many years – donating quilts, cell phones and hosting an auction ever year in their honor – this is the first year the Church gave a grant specifically for recreational activities.
"When they came to us for a grant request, we thought it was a great idea, said Karen Karn who serves on the Church’s Good Samaritan Fund Committee. "To be able to take kids from a difficult place on a fun outing can make a world of difference."
The grant made it possible for Home Free to take 12 children and 17 women to Valley Fair on June 15. The trip included transportation, admission and a catered lunch of brats and fried chicken.
When they arrived back at Home Free around 4 p.m., it was evident that the trip was a success.
One women from northern Minnesota expressed gratitude for the grant.
"I didn’t know people donated money for use to go to Valley Fair," she said. "It proves to me that people really do care; it’s a really big deal to me."
Another women said her two young children had so much fun they didn’t want to leave.
Cloutier will be bringing women and children to the State Fair in August.
Opened in 1980, Home Free provides battered women and their children with emergency shelter, advocacy and support services. Home Free is a program of Mission Inc., a nonprofit service organization working to make change possible for people whose lives have been disrupted by domestic violence, addiction and alcoholism, or illness and disabilities.