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Seth Johnson/Daily Journal: The Welcome Place in Pelican Rapids provides area residents with help when they need it most.

Archived Story

Welcome Place in PR giving hand to those in need [UPDATED]

Published 10:52am Tuesday, October 9, 2012 Updated 10:53am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The rate of Pelican Rapids residents with income below 50 percent of the poverty level is more than double that of Minnesota. In an effort to provide assistance to those in need, The Welcome Place was formed.

“We began to see needs that weren’t being met,” said The Welcome Place board member Gerry Langseth. “There is a lot of hidden poverty throughout the community, and we discovered it.”

The Welcome Place board is made up mostly of members of area churches, but it was important for the board to open The Welcome Place in a building that isn’t a church.

“It’s very difficult for some people to cross the threshold of a church,” said faith community nurse Linda Johnson. “We wanted to bring the ministry to the place where people are.”

The Welcome Place is located by the food shelf and Pass It On thrift store in downtown Pelican Rapids. The idea is to cater to people’s deeper, holistic health needs including physical, emotional, social and spiritual health, Johnson said.

“We are not here to replace existing services and agencies that are already in place,” said Johnson. “Part of what we do is networking with other social service agencies to work together.”

The building opened its doors in April, and there are already several success stories of people who have gotten their lives on track because of the help of The Welcome Place.

The police chief came in and notified The Welcome Place staff that a woman and two children had been sleeping in the park for two nights. Through The Welcome Place, the woman was referred to Someplace Safe in Fergus Falls, where she was able to get an apartment and a job, Johnson said.

It is a misconception that The Welcome Place primarily focuses on residents who have moved from different parts of the world, she said.

“We have served people of all ethnicities and nationalities, but that is not the particular reason this was created,” she said.

The Welcome Place has served people from Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Iraq, Russia and Mexico not because that is the focus of organization but because people from all of these places are part of Pelican Rapids, Gerry Langseth said.

“This is a safe, comfortable, welcoming place to come for people of all backgrounds to come in a time of need,” Johnson said.

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