All it took was an email written in Ojibwe.
MAHUBE-OTWA had been working for a long time to schedule a meeting with a specific person that the agency thought it could help.
But that connection just was not happening.
However, a newly hired liaison between MAHUBE-OTWA and White Earth Nation wrote an email in Ojibwe to that person and was able to set up that long-hoped-for meeting.
Even better, that one meeting then opened more than 20 other doors for additional meetings and connections.
This is the work that is happening under the Hub grant, a two-year grant provided to NMF in 2021 from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to develop a system through which families would be connected to services.
NMF sub-granted those grant funds to six partner agencies, including MAHUBE-OTWA, to achieve the grant’s goals.
MAHUBE-OTWA has been focused on moving people out of poverty by focusing on five key areas and priorities.
- Prioritizing those experiencing homelessness or facing life-threatening crises
- Helping people to access benefits.
- Relationship-based coaching.
- Asset development
- Leadership development
How was this all accomplished?
On the second point – helping people to access benefits – staff focused on individual stories, listening to what they were experiencing and then following up to fit them with corresponding programs, connecting them to other resources.
Likewise, in relationship-based coaching, staff who had longtime working relationships with people urged them to pick up a pathway – such as education or employment – from which they developed action steps. The question was, “What is your dream job and how do we get you there?”
Taking the next step
With Hub grant funds, MAHUBE-OTWA hired Wayne Somes as a liaison with the White Earth Nation.
“Wayne has been a great piece of the puzzle,” said Katie Gunderson, NMF Program Officer who serves at the project manager for the Hub grant. “Wayne is the infrastructure under the client, figuring out who the various partners are and how they are working to connect services. He has been focused on building the relationships.”
Not only is Wayne working to make connections in White Earth Nation, but he is building bridges for future work, such as teaching an Ojibwe language course to the staff.
MAHUBE-OTWA is now creating a medicine garden that is interactive for its staff and the community. A second phase is planned to include land restoration.
“They feel this is a mental health benefit for the staff and community as they can go to the garden at any time and pick weeds or raspberries … just take a break from life duties, screens, etc.,” Katie said. “They feel this is very healing for the community.”