Regular Tzedek Opportunities
There are many Tzedek related events at Mount Zion Temple below are a few that happen every year. Please see This Week at Mount Zion or the temple bulletin for upcoming events that are not listed in this section.
Red Cross Blood Drive
Mount Zion Sisterhood’s blood drives occur in early April and early November on Wednesdays. Donation times are between 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Our blood drives are recognized for our warm and welcoming approach. Appreciation to donors is expressed through the volunteer efforts of congregants while working the blood drive and the wonderful matzah ball soup, veggies, fruits, and desserts. Donors can also self-register at www.redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code is 4008. Our goal is 55 units per drive; double red cell donations count as two units. All are welcome to donate and/or volunteer. For more details or to volunteer, Contact Terri Stander, the chair of this event, by email or at 651-293-1776.
Project Home Family Shelter
Our Two Connected Homeless Shelters
The Tzedek Committee at Mount Zion organizes volunteers to assist at two homeless shelters for families in Saint Paul. The volunteer opportunities at each shelter are different.
Project Home provides temporary overnight shelter to families while they are waiting for permanent housing or space in the Ramsey County Family Service Center. The shelter is housed in two churches or synagogues each month on a rotating basis with each site able to accommodate 18 people. Mount Zion is a Project Home site during the month of June, and in December we provide some volunteers to Gloria Dei when the shelter is located there. Families arrive at each site around 5:30 p.m., stay overnight and leave about 7 a.m. the following morning. Volunteers serve snacks, visit with the families, coordinate activities, distribute clothing and personal items as needed, stay overnight and prepare a light breakfast. These families have a place to sleep at night, but where do they go during the day?
When families leave the congregational shelter sites in the morning, they are taken to The Family Place. This is a daytime shelter – a place that tries to provide a safe and somewhat stable environment for families experiencing the crisis of homelessness. The center brings together trained staff, members of faith communities and Ramsey County services to help meet basic needs including counseling and assistance with job and housing searches, transitional needs, child nurture and educational support. Families eat lunch and dinner here and only stay overnight when the Project Home sites are full and there is nowhere else to go. Saturday and Sunday evening meals at The Family Place are always provided by volunteers who plan the menu, purchase, prepare and serve the food, join the families in eating the meal “family style” and then clean up. Volunteers from Mount Zion participate in this several Sundays a year, usually sharing the cost of the meal among the group serving on that particular day. Children aged 13 and up can help in the kitchen and younger children can set tables and put out food and beverages. Volunteers usually begin preparing the meal about 3 p.m. and generally finish cleaning up by 6 p.m. If you’d like to help cook and serve a Sunday dinner at the Family Place, contact Karen Gjerstad at 612-724-7258. If you’d like to volunteer with your friends, five or six adults can form their own group and be given their own date to cook and serve.
A volunteer who helps at all shelters says:
Every time I leave a shelter, I am profoundly grateful for everything that I have. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for homeless families to have to shuttle from place to place, only able to bring whatever they can carry. Think about how your day would go if you had to start by having everyone in your family up, suitcase packed, and ready to leave at 7 a.m. every morning after a restless night sleeping on a cot. Volunteering at any of the shelters provides a dose of reality, and the reminder that whatever you have, it is more than most people on this planet ever have.