This is the Greater Mankato United Way’s annual Week of Action, which connects businesses and their employees with local volunteer activities.
Executive Director Barb Kaus says last year about 130 people volunteered during the week, and even more stepped in this year. “We have over 150 volunteers from approximately 15 businesses helping us out,” she says.
The first stop Monday morning was at a low-income housing complex operated by Partners for Affordable Housing, and executive director Deb Newman says the free labor makes a great difference. “For us, having support – because we’re such a small staff – means so much,” she explains.
Newman says Mankato is in the midst of a low-income housing crisis, and these volunteer efforts help the agency focus on those who need it. “Fifty-two percent of all renters are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing,” she says, and adds. “That’s a real issue in Mankato. We see a lot of these families who are desperate for a roof over their heads or some type of support to get themselves back to self-sufficiency.”
Other projects planned for this week include work on some of the buildings at Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, yard and garden work at the Blue Earth County Historical Society, cleanup at Spring Lake Park in North Mankato, and helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house.