December Nonprofit of the Month // VINE Faith in Action
In the summer of 1994, a small group of people sat around a kitchen table and discussed how to create a safe and effective way for people to help their neighbors. By developing a simple organization, where volunteers who want to help are matched with people who need a helping hand, everyone benefits.
VINE was the first Faith in Action program developed in Minnesota and is now the largest Faith in Action program in the United States. The initial vision of VINE’s founders – to create opportunities for people to be of service to others – has become part of the fabric of life in the Minnesota River Valley.
VINE’s professional staff coordinates volunteers and services that are vital to the well-being of people with long-term health needs and difficult life circumstances. Trained volunteers freely share their time providing rides, assisting with home chores, delivering hot meals on wheels, offering respite to family caregivers and helping in a thousand other ways – both great and small. VINE readily provides services for needy people that businesses for hire often are unwilling to accept. VINE’s goal is to keep people healthy and comfortable and living in their own home for as long as it’s safe and reasonable to do so.
In 2006, VINE acquired Mankato’s 50-year-old senior center after its board of directors made the decision to close due to lack of funding and poor attendance. With a strong emphasis on relevant and helpful programming, a health and wellness focus and evidence-based fitness classes, weekly participation grew from 50 to 525 people in 5 years and the space was soon outgrown. An active search for space that would both expand and consolidate VINE’s program offices, chore facility and the Summit Center was undertaken.
The VINE Adult Community Center (VACC) formally opened in July 2014 and is now home to VINE’s program staff and a licensed Adult Day Program. This 36,000 sq. ft. Adult Community Center facility, repurposed from a former college classroom building, features a cushioned walking track, a fully equipped fitness center, and many spaces to gather and interact with others. In 2016, construction begun on an 18 x 50 ft. warm-water exercise pool and locker rooms with operational expenses to be shared by Mayo Clinic Health System’s physical therapy department.