Community Action and deZinnia, Inc. Collaborate | 7.11
West End Tour Guide | 7.11

Community Action and deZinnia, Inc. Collaborate | 7.11  [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Almost 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy identified poverty as one of his central concerns. After his death, his brother Robert worked with President Johnson to help develop the Equal Opportunity Act, signifying the start of the War on Poverty. Community Action Programs (CAP), including separate programs in Ramsey and Washington Counties, began under this initiative. Today, there are more than 1,100 Community Action programs in the United States, each with unique components determined by local need.

Programs and community needs are evaluated and revised regularly, and each local Community Action organization can develop new initiatives based on the results. The assessments, every three years, look for duplication as well as service gaps. They are expert at taking advantage of special funding opportunities from state and federal government, private foundations, and industry.

photo: Denise Stahura and Shelly Boone

Currently there are four major Community Action programs in Ramsey and Washington (CAPRW) counties: head Start and Early Head Start, Energy Assistance, Civic Engagement and Self-Sufficiency support. In order to expand its audience reach and make the organization’s message relevant to contemporary constituents, CAPRW needed to update and refresh its communications materials.
Denise Stahura, CAP’s Senior Director of Planning, took notice of some church pro bono work being completed by Michelle Boone, founder and owner of deZinnia, Inc., a creative organization (651-695-1041). Located in the historic Pilney Building on West Seventh at Randolph, deZinnia integrates design and project management to help clients reach their communication objectives. Because deZinnia, like Community Action, seeks to build collaborative relationships with its clients and is known for its ability to design materials using innovative graphics and strategies that attract positive attention, Stahura and Boone found an immediate opportunity to serve a common goal.

deZinnia was able to work with the CAPRW team on various projects, including refreshing their brand identity and creating awareness-building campaigns for each of Community Action’s programs — most recently the Food Support program. By building on ideas of warmth, energy, focus and pride, CAPRW and deZinnia were able to provide valuable information to those in need and illustrate the impact these programs have on the community.

The success of these efforts can be seen in the numbers: Last year 70,000 people were involved in the programs and services CAPRW offered, and among those people 21 different languages are spoken. Community Action of Ramsey and Washington counties is fully staffed and financially healthy with clean audits from both its accountants and its funders.

Community Action encourages people to call and discuss their issues. If any CA programs are relevant, the link is made at once. But CA collaborates with many other programs and will refer the caller to those that are appropriate. Their approach is personal and on-going. People are always asked to call again if anything is not satisfactory with a referral.

CAP’s current programs are:

Head Start and Early Head Start (651-603-5977)
Since 1965, Head Start programs have served the needs of disadvantaged infants, children and pregnant women across the country. They are designed to provide children essential learning skills before they enter kindergarten. These programs provide valuable one-on-one interaction and socialization skills. They are comprehensive child development, health and social service programs for low-income families. Since 1965, Head Start has been serving the needs of disadvantaged infants, children, and pregnant women across America.

More than 1500 children, from prenatal through age five, are enrolled in Community Action’s programs each year throughout Ramsey County. Options include full-day, half-day, therapeutic, and inclusion classrooms, and home-visiting programs. Families who meet eligibility requirements and families with children with special needs are encouraged to apply.

The prenatal to age three program, Early Head Start, offers a home-based design for families. Early Head Start Home Visitors meet regularly with parents and children to nurture child development and parenting skills. Families who qualify for childcare assistance may also choose full-day, center-based enhanced childcare for children ages six weeks to five years.

Head Start children between the ages of three and five attend center-based programming. Classes are offered in either half-day or full-day options at centers conveniently located throughout Ramsey County. Nine centers operate half-day classes, four days a week from September through late May. A full-day, full-year option is also available at two Head Start centers (Bigelow and Hubert H. Humphrey Job Corps), or through partnership contracts with community childcare facilities.

Energy Assistance (651-645-8260)
Funded by the federal government, Energy Assistance helps with bill payment, intervention and shut-off situations, advocacy for consumer rights and outreach. Community Action administers the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP), which assists participating households in maintaining affordable, continuous and safe home energy. Services include bill payment assistance, intervention in energy crisis situations, outreach to under-served populations, advocacy for and information about utility consumer rights and referrals to Community Action’s Energy Conservation department (651-482-8260) and other community agencies.

In addition, Energy Assistance supports the Reach out for Warmth program. This is an emergency fuel fund established to assist households slightly over the income guidelines for Energy Assistance, but still struggling to afford their energy bills. Reach out for Warmth also helps households after energy assistance funds have been exhausted. The program is funded by donations from corporate and private sources and is matched 2:1 by local, state and federal funds. Contact Community Action to learn more about donating, or applying if you are struggling to pay your energy bills, but are slightly over the energy assistance income guidelines.

Self-Sufficiency (651-603-5880)
Community Action’s Self-Sufficiency programs help people with low incomes work toward economic independence through education, transportation programs, asset development, and job hunting skills. They are designed to assist participants and their families with choices that can lead to self-reliance, by providing a holistic approach to the entire well-being of the family and ensuring the empowerment of each family member. Five primary services are available:
  • Project Success: support for those seeking employment.
  • Financial Literacy: learning to make sound money management decisions and participating in our matched savings program
  • Car Ownership Program: helping working families purchase cars.
  • Food Support Program: helping families and individuals obtain the food support (stamp) benefits for which they qualify: 651-603-5883.
  • You Be The Change: is Community Action’s program that helps low-income people engage in the civic arena directly by developing their leadership skills to increase community awareness and involvement.
For further information about Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, call 651-645-6445 or go to

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West End Tour Guide | 7.11 [IMAGE]

Historic Saint Paul has published its West End Tour Guide. It is available at Landmark Center, Fort Road Federation, West 7th Community Center and other local spots. The new guide for Frogtown can be found at Landmark Center. Credit: Historic Saint Paul.

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Eagle Scout Brightens St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store [IMAGE]| 7.11

Joe Warec, son of Rich and Ann Warec, started as a Tiger Cub in first grade with Troop 83 at Holy Spirit Parish in Highland Park. This year he reached Eagle Scout.

Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in Boy Scouting. Since its introduction in 1911, more than 2 million young men have earned the rank. Requirements include an extensive Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. This project offers the opportunity for a Scout to demonstrate leadership of others while performing a project for the benefit of his community
Joe chose for his Eagle Scout project to paint the front section of the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, 461 West Seventh. He recruited volunteers to paint and donations to help cover the cost of the painting. He supervised the volunteers who cleaned and painted for a total of 75 hours. Joe delegated responsibilities and kept all the volunteers on track. The store looks bright and clean. Many customers have noticed and complimented the new paint job.

Joe will be a sophomore at Cretin-Derham Hall in September 2011. He attended the 100-year anniversary Boy Scout Jamboree in Washington DC last year.

Peter Skinner owner of Skinners Pub & Eatery donated pizzas for the workers. Julene Maruska, Manager of the Thrift Store, is thrilled with the results.

Photo: Front row: Edmundo Lijo (Teddy); second row: Edmundo Lijo, Jaime Lijo, Lydia Lijo, Jake Arndt, Sam Lijo; third row: Ed Koerner (St. Vincent de Paul Society executive director), Kevin Arndt, Rich Warec, Michael Arndt, Joe Warec, Julene Maruska (store manager). Crew members not shown: Russell Heer, Tom Heer, Jeff Acuri, John Hay, Jim Maruska and Ann Warec.

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Festa Italiana to Host A Taste of Italy July 18 | 7.11

Minnesota’s first Italian festival is coming to Harriet Island September 23-24, and a combination singing contest and fundraiser is planned for July 18, 5:30 p.m. at Mancini’s (531 West Seventh).

A Taste of Italy provides a prelude to the festival, with Lou Cotroneo as the guest emcee. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased in advance from Festa committee members, at or at the door. The evening offers delicious Italian food, beer and wine tasting, a silent auction, and the unveiling of the 2011 Festa artwork.

More than that, the Taste of Italy is calling all crooners and divas to join in a real Italian singing contest. Participation drops your Taste of Italy admission ticket to just $10. Singers can perform a traditional Italian folk song, a song made famous by an Italian crooner, or an Italian aria. A panel of judges will determine the winner, who will be invited to sing on the main stage at Festa Italiana. Submit your name and the song you plan to sing to Detailed information can be found at

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Hillcrest Community Theater: “Into the Woods” [IMAGE]| 7.11

A production of “Into the Woods,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, with a few main characters taken from the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella. These tales are tied together into a more original story involving a baker and his wife on their quest to begin a family.

Tickets are available during regular business hours at Hillcrest Recreation Center, 1978 Ford Parkway, or at the door beginning an hour prior to each show time. Tickets are $10 for individuals over 12 years of age and $8 for children 12 and under.

Performances are July 21-23 and 28-30, at 7 p.m. at Como Lakeside Pavilion, 1360 N. Lexington Parkway. For information call 651-695-3706.

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Summer Dance Returns to Saint Paul  [IMAGE]

Summer Dance invites visitors to come dance in the streets, enjoy local music and eat local food every Thursday through August 4. This year the dance series offers weekly social dance events at Landmark Plaza with demonstrations and basic lessons from professional dance instructors. Each week highlights a different social dance style. Local bands provide music later in the night and several of the events include food available for purchase.

Dates of dances: July 7 – Country; July 14 – Ballroom; July 21 – Polka; July 28 – Irish; and August 4 – Classic R&B/Soul

Free dance demonstrations by well-known local dance professionals from organizations including Arthur Murray Dance Studio and Cinema Ballroom begin at 6:00 p.m. and live music by a different local band every week follows at 7:15 p.m.

The events will move inside in case of rain. Rain location announcements will be posted on every Thursday.
The Ordway is collaborating with the City of Saint Paul, Landmark Center, Pazzaluna, the Saint Paul Hotel and Wells Fargo for the Ordway Summer Dance series.

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Crosby Park Developments  [IMAGE]

After the 2011 floods, the dock at Upper Lake was once again severely damaged. Karin Misiewicz of Parks and Recreation told Community Reporter: “We have not been able to get a good look at it yet. There is still standing water and many trees down over the trails at Crosby. Staff members are going out to tour the areas hit by the flood and to evaluate them before the FEMA team arrives.

“The dock was repaired in 2010 after the flood. This year we cabled the dock to protect it from rising water. We know that the bog walk/boardwalk is in need of some repairs as well. I do not know what the time line is on that or the anticipated costs. I am not aware of any immediate plans for it at this time.”

Plans for a new parking area at the Elway entrance have firmed up. Kathleen Anglo, Landscape Architect, reported, “The schedule for the parking lot is to begin construction in September and finish in spring of 2012. The kiosk [Editor’s note: this is one of a number of informational and historical kiosks planned for the Great River Passage] will be installed concurrently with the parking lot project.” The plan for the parking lot can be viewed at

Photo: Upper Lake dock after the floods.

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Wetland and Wildflower Walks  [IMAGE]

Urban treasures abound in the metro area. Join the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District for free guided tours of two treasures — the Tamarack Swamp in Woodbury and the Lake Phalen Shoreline in St. Paul.

Please register for these free events by contacting Shelly at 651-792-7965 or by July 11. Handouts and light refreshments are provided.

Tamarack Tour: July 14
Tamarack Swamp is one of the most distinctive and diverse wetlands in the Twin Cities. Our guided walk leads participants through the preserve to identify plants and highlight unique features of the swamp. Meet at the Tamarack Nature Preserve parking lot at 6:30 p.m., returning to lot by 8:30 p.m. 1825 Tower Drive, Woodbury. This tour is cosponsored by the City of Woodbury.

Lake Phalen Wildflower Walk: July 20
The Lake Phalen shoreline has undergone a very successful restoration, which began in 2001. We will tour some of the shoreline areas on the southwest side of the lake, identifying native plants and wildflowers and discussing techniques used in the restoration. Meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Phalen Beach House (off Phalen Drive just north of Wheelock Parkway in St. Paul). The “Lake Phalen Shoreline Restoration: Walking Tour and Plant Guide, 2nd Edition” will be available for use on the tour and to purchase. Copies are also available from the Ramsey County and St. Paul Public Library systems.

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Lowertown Roots Music Festival

A new free music festival is coming to Mears Park in July. The Lowertown Roots Music Festival will be held July 30, featuring music and artists with a cultural distinction native to the U.S. In addition to the Saturday festival in the park, many downtown St. Paul clubs will feature related music acts on Friday, July 29. Executive Director Steve Heckler said, “We are excited to bring Roots music to Mears Park. It’s one of the best outdoor venues in the region.”

The music to be featured includes blues, country, bluegrass, gospel, Zydeco, Tejano, Native American and other music forms that have informed, inspired and ultimately defined American music and culture. Headliners for this year’s festival include multiple Grammy nominated Iowa songwriter Greg Brown and Minnesota’s premier bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing.

The festival is free to the public in the beautiful urban outdoor setting of Mears Park. Lowertown Entertainment District restaurants will offer food, beer and wine. Contact: Connie Shaver, 612-308-5785, or

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