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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Open Arms of Minnesota

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Food, Health, Health Support, Human Services, Meals on Wheels, Nutrition

Mission: Our mission: With open arms, we nourish body, mind and soul. We are the only program of our kind and scope in Minnesota.

Results: Since 1986 we have delivered over two million meals and expect to deliver our three millionth meal in mid-2012.

Target demographics: We serve clients with life-threatening illnesses like HIV/AIDS, cancer, breast cancer, MS and dozens of other diseases. Income is not part of our criteria, only a diagnosis of illness from a medical professional.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2012, we estimate that we will serve over 2,000 clients in the course of the year.

Programs: In 2012, Open Arms will cook and deliver more than 450,000 meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, ALS, breast cancer, MS and more than 60 other diseases. We also provide meals for their caregivers and dependent children. Each week, our clients receive five days' worth of meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. We believe that eating delicious, nutritious meals helps make our clients' medicines and treatments more effective, so they are able to lead healthier, more independent lives.

Community Stories

28 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Mary Pat L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Open Arms has created a community where the volunteers receive as much from the organization as the clients served. I have been volunteering for about 8 years, mainly delivering meals. Volunteer management is excellent, well organized and personal. For the past two years, I have been volunteering with one of my various nephews most Saturday mornings. It has been a wonderful experience doing this together and has opened their world to one of service. They experience first hand how important a good meal is and the clients are appreciative and they want to help -- and that all types of people need help. The new facility is great, the farm is great, but the best is thing about Open Arms is they allow us to help make some sick person and / or their family's week just a little easier.

1 Patrick25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Open Arms of Minnesota is by far the best non-profit going...the works they do is imortant and in some case life saving. My mother is currently battling cancer and has had serious food issues, she became a client and RAVES about the food. I volunteer there a couple times a week and always have a great time with Cassie, Sara, Juan and thr entire staff. As a long time hospitality worker and a foodie, the kitchen at OA is "top shelf" I know alot of chefs who would kill to work there...but really it is the food that they provide to people who might not eat regularly that is the proof that Open Arms is the non-profit to check out.
Patrick McMonigal

1 Becky25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Open Arms is just what it's name says. You arrive to help out in the kitchen, committee meeting room or delivery car & you feel others welcome you with open arms. AND the warmth, attention to volunteers, & lightheartedness is matched by the efficiency, attention to detail and planning, & teamwork that makes an organization like this do great things. It seems nothing is too big for this team of people. I am so proud to be a part of Open Arms!

Vicki O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a client served and a volunteer. In September 2006 I had signed up for orientation as a volunteer for Open Arms through a recommendation by a friend of mine. Before I was able to attend I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I called and cancelled the orientation. At that time they said that they not only served HIV, MS and ALS patients but also breast cancer patients and that my sons and I would be able to receive meals during treatment at no charge. I thought that was very generous but probably wouldn't need it. Between my first and second round of chemo I realized that it would probably be a good idea. It was such a lifesaver for me! I worked throughout my treatment except for the day of chemo and was exhausted. When I came through all that my son and I rode in the inaugural Breast Cancer Ride in which Open Arms was a beneficiary and then started volunteering in the kitchen and delivering meals. I try to get together with my two sons and deliver meals the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas as a way of giving back and showing our thanks. I am proud to be associated with Open Arms!!!!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have done volunteer work throughout my life. When my sons were in school I served as a volunteer in various areas. The fall of 2006 I had time to volunteer for something else. A coworker suggested Open Arms and I set up an appointment for orientation. A few weeks later I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had to call to cancel/postpone my volunteering. I was told that Open Arms now helped Breast Cancer patients too and if I was interested I could receive meals. I said thanks, but didn't think I would need it. After surgery, my treatment consisted of three months of chemotherapy followed by three months of radiation. I worked throughout my treatment(taking the days off of chemo). I became more and more exhausted--so much so that while grocery shopping at Cub someone came over to bag my groceries. At that point I knew it was time to ask for help, so I called Open Arms and they started delivering weekly meals for myself and my two sons. The volunteer would bring the meals to me at work and it was a lifesaver!!! It was hard to ask for help, but I am so glad that I did! The following year was the inaugural Breast Cancer Bike Ride. My son Matt and I participated in the ride and volunteering raising money for Open Arms. Three months later I began volunteering in the bakery and did that for a few years. For that past few years my sons Matt and Sean helped deliver meals during the holidays--it was a great family experience! My Open Arms experience has come full circle and I am so grateful and proud to have been a part of it! I guess my role is client/fundraiser/volunteer.

Ron J.

Donor

Rating: 5

A great organization with a great mission. I am glad to be a donor to the cause.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering at Open Arms for more than a decade, and I've come to find that I can rely on certain things: I will always receive a warm greeting. There will always be something meaningful to do, and that work will always have a direct and immediate impact on someone in my community. There is always a plan--whether for the day's kitchen work, the year's development goals, or the leadership direction the organization will take in the coming decade. Compassionate, energetic people will always pull together to make these plans become reality. And there will always be a place in those plans for me and for everyone else who serves and is served by the mission at Open Arms.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It doesn't matter what shape I'm in when I walk into the building. I always leave Open Arms happy and energized. The work of preparing and delivering food is easy to understand; but it is surprisingly transformative for me and other volunteers, for clients, and for the community we live in. Open Arms is a chance to spend a few hours a week acting mindfully and with specific intent to help real people. The fact that this service returns so much benefit to me is nothing short of a miracle.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I always look forward to volunteering at Open Arms. The kitchen is always full of great smelling food and baked goods. The other volunteers I work with are always fun and interesting to talk to. Most importantly, knowing that I help to make a difference - for those with serious illnesses - is what keeps me coming back again and again.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Every time I come to Open Arms, I feel a spirit that I don't feel anywhere else. The spirit of the people that are served, the spirit of the volunteers, and the spirit of the awesome staff can be felt when you walk in the door. The kitchen sings with laughter, music, and energy. Everyone is so helpful and kind. No matter how down I may be when I arrive for my shift, I leave feeling better. Thanks Open Arms!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

To say I love Open Arms would be an understatement. They are truly an amazing organization built around an unstoppable volunteer base. The leadership, from the top down, is top notch. Everyone has this...well...energy. I love volunteering at Open Arms - it is a nonprofit like no other.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am a brand new volunteer with Open Arms - I was looking for some new volunteer work that I could do in my spare time and when I have a free window of time in my day. This is it - I have gone through both orientations. I have worked in many commercial kitchens and this is truly state of the art and so well run. I have done several food deliveries already with my girlfriend. This organization runs like a well oiled wheel. I look forward to spending many happy hours volunteer for Open Arms.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with many organizations but I have never experienced such love, support and thankfulness for the little bit I do as I have at Open Arms. Where else would the head of general operations offer to bring me, a volunteer door holder at a fundraiser, a drink of water when it got hot? Where else would the head of volunteers make sure that every volunteer gets thanked by name and in person at the end of a huge, exhausting fundraiser? The staff attitude here is beyond anything I have ever experienced. That is just my experience. I am not even mentioning how well-run the organization is. In this economy, how could anyone but Open Arms raise $8.1 million for a new building, if not because everyone knows how great they are and believes so much in the mission?

Jasmine S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started delivering meals with Open Arms in high school and decided to become an intern here a few summers later; I rounded out my experience by participating in the Re/Max Results Breast Cancer Ride this past August 2011. This organization has changed the way I see society; I see hope, I see laughter, I see dedication and I see love every single day I walked into Open Arms. Their "let's figure it out" attitude has successfully impacted SO many people within and outside of the community and I am consistently astounded by the perennial work and impact created by this organization. Open Arms of Minnesota is a beautiful, life-changing, life-giving organization that has both impacted my career goals and heart.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering at Open Arms about 5 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her diagnosis and illness were devastating to me - we knew her cancer was terminal and, although I helped in her care, I knew that care was palliative and not curative. Volunteering at Open Arms gave me a chance to help others in a way that I knew helped in their healing. I learned from my Mom how to love cooking and feeding others, so it seemed the perfect fit. When my Mom passed away, I could not have asked for a more supportive group of people than the staff and other volunteers at Open Arms. I love my Monday morning volunteer shift in the kitchen and look forward to it every week. We sing along to the radio and swap recipes and share our lives and laugh a lot. I know my Mom is looking down on me and smiling every time she sees me working my shift

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for Open Arms for the past five years first in the building on Franklin Avenue near the Indian center and now in the beautiful state of the art building on Bloomington and 25th in Minneapolis. I volunteer twice a week- once cooking soup(chopping onions, celery, kale, cucumbers-you name it we do the prep work. I have never laughted so hard anywhere-I leave full of good cheer, having spent time with the best chefs in the world and a treasure full of volunteers-from all over the community. On Sunday I bring a teenager and we pack soup and I get to visit with a great group of college kids and cassie and Sarah who are the best directors of traffic you can imagine.
This is the place to come when you need a boost to your spirits and you will be quaranteed a hug from all sorts of folks.
And Open Arms is now partnered with an Organic Farm in Belle Plaine and I weeded on the farm this past summer. The farm provided 20,000 lbs of produce and our clients were thrilled with farm fresh everything!
There is nothing that needs improvement0it is the best!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer and donor with Open Arms of Minnesota for almost 15 years. What keeps me coming back is the wonderful mission of Open Arms-feed both body and soul. The organization is grassroots and very connected to the community and the families they help. We bring our children to help volunteer and the staff is warm and caring. The people we bring food to are so grateful and sometimes we are the only caring person they see. Giving your time and effort to this group truly makes a difference.

Nick M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering at Open Arms because the agency is delivering such valuable services in such a professional manner. The staff is well trained in proper food handling and takes the time to train volunteers as well. I always feel that my time is valued when I am at Open Arms. Tasks are assigned and thoroughly explained so I feel like I am making maximum use of my time. I always feel energized when I complete my shift at Open arms.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first learned about Open Arms MN when a friend and I visited their new facility during their grand opening. I was impressed with their staff and mission statement and decided to apply for a volunteer position. I've been a volunteer since the summer of 2010, and I could not be more satisfied with my experience with Open Arms MN. The staff is sassy and friendly, and the clients are polite and charming. Whether it be on the busy mornings preparing weekly food packages for delivery, or on the afternoons helping out with phone calls at the front desk, I would always leave Open Arms with a feeling of charity, joy, and optimism. Be they potential clients, volunteers, or donors, I recommend Open Arms MN to all!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've enjoyed my experience volunteering at Open Arms MN so much I recommend it to everyone! The staff and clients are wonderfully friendly and diverse. The organization beautifully balances efficient production and delivery with tailored meals to each client based on their interests, culture and health needs. And I am delightfully appreciated each time I step in the door, which means a lot considering I am unable to financially contribute to this well deserving outfit. I am thrilled to be apart of Open Arms MN and the innovative ways they serve the community and promote a healthy environment for all residents.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Open Arms MN is an exciting, fun, effective, and thoughtful organization that provides critical services to people who are very much in need. In 2009 alone, OA prepared and delivered over 300,000 meals! It is highly organized, accessible to volunteers, friendly, and fun. I'm hooked. It's an important part of each week for me. Also, I observe that the management team and other staff are highly cost conscious and efficient, ensuring that donations (time and money) are spent with care.

Emily N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

From my first meeting with Open Arms, I knew this was an organization worth giving my time and money to support. What they do is so simple, yet so critical. They provide nutritious meals to people who are living with a chronic or life threatening disease. And when you deliver the meals, you truly understand how important this work is - and how much it is appreciated. I am honored to be able to give back to Open Arms through a number of committees. Having worked on committees for other nonprofits, I am always impressed by how the staff works with the volunteers. They are so respectful of peoples time and are careful to make sure they never ask too much of any individual. With other groups, I always felt like they were always trying to get more out of me. With Open Arms, I know that they are truly grateful any time I offer to help and that always makes me want to give more.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Open Arms of Minnesota feeds sick people! It's about the food! It doesn't preach to or judge it's clients, but rather brings good nutritious food to their doors with a smile and a cheery "hello". Without the help of hundreds of volunteers, there would be no Open Arms. I am the one of the luckiest volunteers at Open Arms. After a sudden retirement from a full-time job, it became apparent that bon-bons and t.v. soaps were not going to fill my day, so I pursued my lifetime passion of cooking. After one 2-hour shift per week, my volunteering has grown to four 4-hour shifts per week. Open Arms has graciously allowed me to join the kitchen staff in preparing meals for clients with specific dietary needs - those with renal failure, those who prefer gluten-free food, those who need ground meals, and those who prefer African-style foods. I've learned so much more about cooking and cooking for people with compromised immune systems. Everyone at Open Arms is incredibly willing to share their knowledge along with laughter, smiles, and stories. Open Arms people are family to me and we all work together to give sick people a better life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Open Arms staff and volunteers opened their arms to me immediately. I was welcomed that first day 3 years ago when I walked into the door. As I’ve chopped vegetables, onions were my specialty, made soup and other nutritious food for our clients, I discovered a safe environment where people respect my skills and my talents. Now I volunteer each morning packing the food – ensuring the right food gets to the right people – and having it ready when the drivers arrive to take the food to our clients. Interacting with Open Arms staff and volunteers is the highlight of my day. My life is changed forever because of Open Arms.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering in the kitchen at Open Arms for 16 months. I arrive weekly at 5:00 and they are prepared for me and put me to work; I never feel as though I am wasting time. The shifts are well managed and coordination of cooking/packing projects appear seamless from my perspective. The staff is always friendly and open to volunteer feedback. The professionalism of the chefs is reflected in the high quality food they prepare daily for delivery. The new building has changed the dynamics of each shift but allows Open Arms to take their services to next level. The increasing need for these services could not be sustained in the old space. The Staff and Board of Directors long range vision allows for expansion of our services into the next decade. I look forward to my shift each week and have only cancelled a couple of times when it could not be avoided. I have met some awesome people during my shifts and it is an incredible feeling to spend two hours a week with a group of individuals sharing the same vision!! Everyone at Open Arms is appreciative of all the volunteers and do not take us for granted. They welcome you in at the beginning of your shift and Thank you as they tell you it is time to leave; never asking for more than you can give in time and effort.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering consistently at Open Arm for close to two years, and my experiences have been nothing but positive. From the moment volunteers walk in the door they are greeted warmly, and everyone is given the opportunity to share their talents. Volunteer shifts are available throughout the week and weekends, so I'm able to cook in the kitchen after my day job. During the past two years I've bonded with my co-colunteers and with the Open Arms staff and made lasting friendships. I've also had the opportunity to serve with the young professionals group and gain a whole new perspective on the organization. Open Arms is a collection of some of the most skilled, passionate, energized people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, all driving forward an essential mission of nourishing mind, body and soul.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been actively volunteering with Open Arms of Minnesota for almost 14 years. Not only does the organization prepare and deliver healthy, appetizing, visually appealing meals to individuals living with life threatening illnesses, but Open Arms provides hope, a sense of dignity, respect, love, care, support, encouragement, compassion, strength, and vision to their clients and volunteers. My volunteer experiences have included helping in the kitchen to prepare, portion out, and package the meals, to assisting with special events and volunteer appreciations, to now delivering meals on a weekly basis to clients. Open Arms cares about every aspect of their operation, from the detail of planning, preparing and presentation of the meals to continuously engaging with the volunteers to get their input and feedback to make the organization better. The Open Arms staff is accessible, friendly, engaged and values their volunteers. I feel like I get more out of Open Arms than I give. Volunteering with Open Arms has enriched my life, shown me how impactful an organization can be in the lives of others who need help, and enabled me to establish life long friendships with other volunteers. I would strongly encourage anyone looking for a meaningful volunteer experience to give Open Arms a try.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Open Arms is a sunbeam in the dreary world of hunger. By preparing and delivering nutritious meals to clients with chronic and progressive diseases (HIV/AIDS, MS, cancer, ALS), we bring that sunbeam into our clients’ homes. When you envision a world of abundance where people won’t go hungry, you have to start small to accomplish such a big goal. I came to Open Arms 15 years ago as a volunteer. Hugs welcomed me into the doors of a “new” building. I made carrot cake, soup, sandwiches and many more delicious treats in quantities I couldn’t have fathomed before. I’ve stuffed and sealed envelopes, I set up and worked at fundraisers, I helped get our name into the community through outreach and media work. Always working next to a dedicated staff – a staff constantly looking for ways to serve more clients better. And always working next to volunteers – an amazing number are also still volunteering for Open Arms 15 years later. When our client need outgrew our building, we raised money and built a new building. The hugs, the volunteers, the staff and, yes, the love moved right into that new building and set up shop – motivated by the knowledge that with more space we can serve more clients and bring our goal of people not going hungry to fruition. When you start small, your work snowballs. Open Arms’ sunbeam ensures that our clients don’t go hungry – and each year we add more clients to our numbers.