Making ends meet can be difficult. But families in greater Minneapolis who are struggling to make wise financial and life decisions are finding support from three area Christian Reformed congregations working together to support families in the area’s impoverished community.
Starfish Ministries was formed in 1995, when deacons from two Minneapolis-area congregations decided families with lower incomes needed help.
Starfish pairs church volunteers with local families in need, forming circles of hope and support. Volunteers help clients establish goals and advise them how to begin carving out a better life.
This year, the ministry is assisting about 30 families.
“Many people in poverty are isolated and don’t have any healthy relationships,” said ministry coordinator Bonnie Smith, a member of Grace CRC in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. “All of us need help when we change.”
Two-and-a-half years ago, Denise Prokott was one of those people. When Prokott came to her first Circle of Hope meeting at Pease (Minn.) CRC, the single mother had been charged with a felony tied to her struggles with gambling. Unsure of where to turn, Prokott was directed to one of Starfish’s Circles of Hope.
“I felt like I was in a funk and I was depressed,” Prokott said. “They didn’t care what mistakes I made—as long as I wanted to improve myself. When I failed, they didn’t make me feel bad—they just helped me get back on track.”
At the Circle of Hope, Prokott found people who didn’t judge her. Instead they worked to understand her situation and figure out how, together, they could change her life. Prokott was paired with a mentor who offered prayer and support, helping Prokott improve as a mother and as a person.
This year, Prokott finished paying off her restitution, moving beyond many of the issues she once dealt with. She serves on the board of directors for a local food shelf and also volunteers with a Circle of Support, giving back to a ministry that changed her life.
“Honestly, it’s the best thing that has happened to me,” Prokott said.