Families Moving Forward

Our next Families Moving Forward (FMF) hosting week will begin November 6th

Twice a year we are blessed to have homeless families make St. Edward’s their home for one week, instead of having to stay in other unsafe, over-crowded shelters.

families moving forward st edward's church bloomingtonWhen these families come from the Day Center in north Minneapolis and stay here with us after a long day of trying to find work, find housing and do their work to get ready to transition into a more stable life – we get to feed them dinner, breakfast, and lunches to take with them, visit with them, and even offer activities for their children in the evenings, so over-stressed parents can have a much-needed break and children can get the attention they so desperately need.

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me,” says Jesus.

And that is what Families Moving Forward is about here at St. Ed’s – treating these strangers as our guests – with respect and dignity, leaving our own biases, judgments or influences at the door. And our volunteers do this exceptionally well!

Get Involved

“This ministry is something I do for my children. They come with me for many of the nights during any given hosting week and they play with the guest children and learn firsthand that people are good people no matter where they come from or where they live, rich or poor, privileged or under-privileged. They will always know how to treat people and how to see Christ in every person they meet.” ~ Bridget

Overall Coordinators:

Bridget Grotins: i_grotins@comcast.net
Wendy Cotter: wencotter@hotmail.com
Bridget and Wendy work with our many individual coordinators to make volunteering easy.

Please note: Since guests are considered a ‘vulnerable’ population – especially children – all adult volunteers are required to complete VIRTUS training and a background check. We take the safety of our guests and volunteers very seriously.

Room Set-Up &/or Take Down:

Sunday Mornings: Do you like to move furniture, dabble in interior design, get things in order and have the satisfaction of turning classrooms into homes? Help to set up guests’ rooms with beds, bedding, and lamps before they arrive, or to put it all away after they leave. Great for whole families to do together!

Contact: Cheryl Birkeland at dcbirkeland@hotmail.com or (952) 250-9099

Evening Hosts:

Evenings 5:30-8:30pm: Are you a great host or hostess? Do you love to greet and welcome guests? Do you like visiting with people at parties or making sure others are enjoying themselves? Help to welcome our guests with smiles and helping hands as they arrive, join them for dinner and conversation, visit with them, help them feel welcomed, and see to their needs. Families and friends are welcome to serve as hosts, too.

Contact: Bridget Grotins at i_grotins@comcast.net or (952) 884-2617

Dinner Cooks:

Evenings 5:30-7:30pm: Do you like to cook? Do you like to see people enjoying their food or eating their fill? Help prepare scrumptious yet simple dinners for our guests. Bring your family or friends and cook in our church kitchen or bring food ready-to-go from home. We will coordinate the menus so there is good variety and let you know of any special restrictions, needs or requests regarding types of food, as well as numbers of guests and volunteers.

Contact: Wendy Cotter at wencotter@hotmail.com or Gretchen Wronka at gwronka@hotmail.com

Dinner Servers & Clean-Up Crew:

Evenings 6:00-7:30pm: Do you like to serve guests? Do you like to visit with people during dinner? Help move dinner supplies and food from the upstairs kitchen to the downstairs dining area! Enjoy serving dinner to our guests, dining with the guests, and set out lunch fixings so guests can make their own lunches for the next day. Servers also clean up afterwards; washing dishes in the dishwasher, making sure all the dinnerware, silverware, glassware needed are set in the dining area. This is a fun way for the whole family to get involved!

Contact: Wendy Cotter at wencotter@hotmail.com or Gretchen Wronka at gwronka@hotmail.com

Overnight Hosts:

Nights 8:00pm-7:00am: Do you like to chat with all kinds of people, kind of like an innkeeper? Are you great at making people feel comfortable and seeing to people’s needs? Help welcome our guests, visit with them, spend the night in your own room, set out breakfast for the guests in the morning, and assist with getting them all off on the bus on time. NOTE: We must have two overnight hosts each night, so we encourage you to find a family member or friend to co-host with you, if possible.

Contact: Jerry Totall at GTotall@msn.com or (952) 820-8321or Sue Wolf at sue.wolf@express-scripts.com or (952) 881-7787.

 “I will definitely host again. What a great experience.” – Karen

“My whole family stays the night with us to be hosts!” – Sue

“It’s so well laid out for the volunteers, that it is easy to be overnight host! Even when I have to go to work the next morning! I do it every time I can.” – Dan


Evenings 6:30-8:00pm: Do you like to play with children? Cuddle babies? Do arts & crafts projects, read books to kids or play games? Play on the playground or work off some steam in active play or sports activities with older kids? Come play with the children of our guests! We have some activities, games, craft supplies, toys and books here at St. Ed’s for you to use, or bring your own activities/ideas from home (we will let you know how many & what ages). This is great fun for the whole family! Youth 18 and under need an adult with them. As many volunteers say: “It is so fun just to play with the kids, doing what they want to do. They are so cute!”

Contact: Bridget Grotins at i_grotins@comcast.net or (612) 554-1807.


Do you like to organize and inventory things? Help with organizing toys, books, crafts, etc., by age levels, for easy use by Evening Activities volunteers or to inventory food products. At your convenience contact the parish office at 952-835-7101.


Do you like to do laundry? (Yes, some people actually do!) Help wash the bedding and towels that our guests used in your own home or at a laundromat. Supplies provided. Contact the parish office at (952) 835-7101.


Do you enjoy shopping for specific needed supplies? Watch for the Donation Board in the foyer a few weeks before families arrive and take a sticker for an item you would like to donate to help with supplies.

Stories of Hearts Warmed

Families Moving Forward St EdwardsThere are so many heart-warming stories about our guests and our volunteers that make it so valuable and meaningful. Many “small miracles” occur every time we host, and you can be a part of it!

Families Moving Forward team is asking for gently used costumes and pretend dress up clothes, the more bling and glitter the better! Believe it or not, costumes can change the way FMF children behave.

Imagine this… Every inch a Disney princess, a long streamer of blue tulle floating behind her, six year old Faith regally addressed her loyal subjects from the royal balcony, the picnic table on St. Ed’s south lawn. Her humble subjects, two Families Moving Forward adult volunteers, were as immersed in this early fall evening drama as our exuberant young guest. For a few joyful minutes this child, homeless with her family for weeks, was in a fairy tale world that she controlled. A bit later, Faith was out of her princess mode and squeezed into a much too small furry unicorn costume, delighting another guest, two year old Dwayne, with her prancing and growling.

Remember the rainy afternoon fun of pulling out that box of mom’s old prom dresses, parts of Halloween costumes long outgrown, the squashed cowboy hat that was a favorite Christmas present years ago? You can help our littlest Families Moving Forward guests create those memories, too!

Contact the parish office at 952-835-7101 if you have items you would like to donate. And if you’re looking for a creative outlet for your inner prince, princess, or unicorn, join the after dinner fun when we host our next Families Moving Forward guests!

Repeatedly, Families Moving Forward’s staff calls us after we’ve hosted to tell us how much their families loved the way we treated them with such kindness and many say that St. Edwards is their favorite church to stay at! Now that is walking in the footsteps of Jesus.