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Community kitchen creates opportunities

MACF helps bring project to fruition

Jill Schramm/MDN Community relations specialist Nina Arias with Independence, Inc., arranges cookies that are fresh from the oven in the organization’s new community kitchen Monday.

A community kitchen, designed with accessibility features, has been added to the resources available through Independence, Inc. in Minot.

Minot Area Community Foundation provided Independence, Inc. with $50,000, which funded half the cost of the kitchen.

Scott Burlingame, executive director at Independence, Inc., said the remaining funds were raised through the organization’s Building Dreams campaign. Construction started in June, and the kitchen was substantially complete by the end of September.

Among its features, the kitchen has lower counters, a microwave with accessibility mechanisms and an oven with front controls.

Burlingame said Independence will be stocking the new space with kitchen supplies, using proceeds from a pickleball tournament.

Jill Schramm/MDN Staff with Independence, Inc. accepted a symbolic check to represent a $50,000 donation from the Minot Area Community Foundation Monday. In front are, from left, Monique Gutierrez and Nina Arias with Independence. In back are, from left, Bob Weigelt with MACF, John Sallee, Jamie Heart and Scott Burlingame with Independence, Staci Kenney, Jason Zimmerman and Jill Wald with MACF and Rianne Kuhn with Independence.

The kitchen will be used at Independence, Inc., in its independent living skills classes and mentoring programs, but it also is available for use by other groups with a community focus. Youthworks utilized the space recently for a Thanksgiving meal.

“This is a time when a lot of people feel alone,” Payton Bland, an independent living specialist with Independence, Inc., said of the holidays. “Inviting someone in the disability community who might already feel ostracized or not feel a part of these things – we want to be able to bring an opportunity for that and an opportunity for unity and a good time.”

Jason Zimmerman, Minot Area Community Foundation, said the community kitchen will serve to enhance skills, create independence and build self esteem as well as increase community collaboration among nonprofit groups.

“When it says community kitchen, that’s what it will truly be,” Zimmerman said.

MACF used money from the Mike and Dorothy Dolan Endowment, Arnold I. Besserud Fund and the Ovid F. Boisjolie Endowment to provide the $50,000 that Burlingame said put the project over the top in its fundraising campaign.

Burlingame added the Independence, Inc., board understood that food brings people together and builds community when it set a goal several years ago to obtain its own building that could include a community kitchen.

“It was a lot of years, a lot of work, to get to this point, and we’re excited to be here,” Burlingame said. “We’re really looking forward to all those different opportunities and letting these people that do programming become creative and use it for a lot of good things.”

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