Posted on Sep 10, 2019
Our Program Speaker on Tuesday, September 15th was Sami Smetana representing WeCAN (Western Communities Action Network, Inc.) that provides services and network for struggling families in the west metro. Associate Director Sami said that the Mission Statement of WeCan is “a community nonprofit that empowers and equips individuals and families to reach stability and self-sufficiency.”  She told us a story about “Jessica” who WeCAN helped provide services including transportation, food and clothing, housing and employment counselling and is now back on her feet again.   Sami explained the four core services programs:  1. Emergency assistance to keep families and individuals in their homes and stable with rent and or mortgage assistance and utility payments. 2. Food support programs like Meals on Wheels that support 8,000 hot meals per month and distribute over 72,000 pounds of food delivered to homes in need.  3.  Employment counseling and financial literacy classes to help adults in jobs search skills, identify personal capabilities and employment opportunities.  4.  Family support programs to help clients make ends meet by stretching their budget to help pay for necessities. 
WeCan does not work alone and relies also on other agencies in helping to provide services closest to client’s homes.  Sami shared with our Rotarians some startling statistics that WeCAN provided in 2018:  1,384 individuals served, 570 Households served, 6,850 services provided, 212 volunteers and a staff of 5 where only two are full time, 6,194 volunteer hours, and a whopping $170,824 worth of volunteer time! 
Sami pointed out that the need for services is great in their suburban and rural areas with a 231% increase over the past five years.  The WeCAN Board recently revamped their strategic framework program of wrap-around services by working with Hennepin County Social Services, Relate Counseling, WIC-Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program, ICA and other community outreach programs.  Her final appeal to our Rotarians was that WeCan needs volunteers; and needs individual, club and corporate donations; and invited us to attend any of their functions and fundraisers in the coming year.  Members had many questions and one interesting statistic was that half of their operating budget is provided through individual donations.  It was a wonderful presentation to a full house of Rotarians.