It is often difficult to predict a community’s emerging needs. However, Janet Palmer, executive director of the PROP social services organization in Eden Prairie, often has a handle on the most immediate issues facing our community.
According to Palmer, one of the most current struggles facing her clients is the cost of housing. “Families are working multiple shift jobs and still need to use our services because the cost of housing is so high,” says Palmer. Of the food shelf’s clients, 62 percent are employed. Despite receiving a paycheck, their basic nutritional needs are still unable to be met due to soaring housing costs.
Another concern in Eden Prairie that continues to be at the forefront is transportation. Not having access to transportation can greatly impact quality of life, from being able to get to work and medical appointments to attending parent-teacher conferences. Palmer can confirm this as can the Family Resources Program at Eden Prairie Schools, which conducted a formal needs assessment and found transportation issues to be among the top needs and service gaps in Eden Prairie. The Foundation responded last year by offering a grant to provide bus passes to families in need.
The final emerging issue that Palmer sees are families dealing with physical health issues. Twenty-three percent of PROP’s clients have reported that they or a family member suffer from a physical condition. PROP’s answer to this problem is to ask for more nutritious produce and healthy food donations to assist families struggling from health concerns.
Other social-service providers add Eden Prairie’s aging population to the list of emerging needs. For example, 9 of 10 older adults want to stay in their homes as long as possible, but 40 percent of seniors report needing some type of assistance to do so, according to Deb Taylor, CEO of Senior Community Services.
As the top social service needs emerge, it is more important than ever to direct philanthropic efforts toward these concerns. The Eden Prairie Community Foundation’s main priority is to help identify and solve problems that impact Eden Prairie residents. To find out more about how your donation can help those in the greatest need, contact Executive Director Mark Weber at [email protected] or call call (952) 949-8499.
(Emily Shelton contributed to this blog post.)