Minneapolis MAD DADS make a difference

You might notice them first by the bright green t-shirts they wear on the bus, but the MAD DADS do more than just ride the Metro Transit lines. “We have a lot of programs,” said V.J. Smith, founder of the MAD DADS Minneapolis chapter, “We do street outreach, men’s empowerment, transition out of prison, community service projects, intervention programs, parent-youth relationships, and Boy Scout mentorship.”Smith founded the Minneapolis chapter of MAD DADS, or Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder, on October 3, 1998.“In 1996 and 1997, I was going through a lot of negative things in my life—abusing drugs and alcohol. But then I got connected to God and I wanted to give back to the streets because I came from the streets,” Smith explained, “So we started a chapter of MAD DADS in Minneapolis and hit the streets.”The original MAD DADS was founded in May 1989 by a group of concerned African-American men and parents in Omaha, Nebraska who were tired of seeing their community plagued with gang violence and illegal drugs. The founders presented themselves as positive role models against the negative forces destroying children, families, and neighborhoods.Last year, MAD DADS founder and national president, Eddie Stanton, died of cancer. Smith, who has received numerous awards for founding an exemplary Minneapolis MAD DADS chapter, was appointed to succeed Stanton as president of the national organization. The Minneapolis MAD DADS chapter was formed to mobilize strong, drug-free men of faith to reclaim their neighborhood, one child at a time. They have expanded to include a “Mom’s Division” as well.MAD DADS mobile outreach unit (Photo by Michelle Tran) “It’s been a beautiful thing. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | Yvonne Cheung Ho: Building a strong minority business community in Minnesota

Yvonne Cheung Ho came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1972. “I had a sister in Minnesota at the time,” Cheung Ho recalled. “She told me about Minnesota. She told me everything. But the only thing she didn’t mention was the winter!” Cheung Ho laughs.Today, as President and CEO of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), Cheung Ho helps entrepreneurs of color, including immigrants, to succeed in Minnesota. This spring, she was honored by St. Mary’s University of Minnesota with the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership award.“She’s pretty inspirational,” said Lindsay McCabe, Executive Director of the Hendrickson Institute, “She’s an inspiring role model for women, especially young women.”Getting a start in businessCheung Ho came to Minnesota for higher education and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in business administration in December of 1975.After graduation, Cheung Ho found a job at IBM. Continue Reading

Twin Cities Metro Independent Business Alliance urges: Celebrate your local “independents” in July

UPDATED AND CORRECTED 7/2/2012: For many Minnesotans, Independence Day means fireworks, flags, and outdoor barbeques. This July, members of the Twin Cities Metro Independent Business Alliance (MetroIBA) encourage you to “Celebrate Your Independents” all month long by shopping at local, independent stores. Twenty-five local businesses are offering special deals during the month of July, including The Wedge, St. Paul Corner Drug, and Midwest Mountaineering. With each purchase, shoppers will gain a chance to become one of two people to win $1,250 in gift cards from participating MetroIBA member businesses.

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Minnesotans celebrate together at Twin Cities World Refugee Day

Nicolette, an Iraqi rock band, and Amwaaj, a traditional Arabic music ensemble, were among the new performers to grace the stage at this year’s Twin Cities World Refugee Day, a locally organized festival that celebrates the diverse array of cultures represented by over 100,000 refugees living in Minnesota. This year was also the first time that the event planning committee and volunteers collected stories from the attendees for the emcee to read aloud throughout the day.“We’ve just been asking people what their experience as a refugee has been, and what it has been like coming to Minnesota. It’s been interesting to see the commonalities and the variety of experiences,” planning committee member, Alexis Walstad, said. Walstad estimates around 800 to a 1,000 people came out for the festivities at Minnehaha Park on June 16. Besides the dancers, musicians, and spoken word artists on stage, 46 vendors from community health groups, resettlement agencies, and social service organizations set up tables to educate people about the resources available for them in the area.     “Refugees are celebrating our lives. Continue Reading