Supporting a mission of help, healing and hope

Published 8:11 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

Organization hosting fundraiser with Jason Gray

WELLS — The nonprofit Five Sisters Project, which serves women and families in crisis, is hosting a fundraiser Oct. 24 with Christian recording artist Jason Gray.

Five Sisters Project founder and director Tracy Muhlenbeck said Gray came for a concert for the organization two years ago at United South Central School, but they ran out of space and this time decided to move the concert to a larger location.

The concert will take place at Crossroads Church in Albert Lea. Albert Lea native and musician Josh Edwards, who now lives in Wells with his wife and children, will also perform.

The Five Sisters Project was founded in 2016. Muhlenbeck said it was an inspiration of hers, and she felt like it was a need that needed to be served in the community.

She said she had personally experienced issues with domestic violence and other things before she married her husband and moved to Minnesota 20 years ago.

Right away when she moved to the area, she said she was able to help some people. But the effort really got going after she purchased a building in downtown Wells for the organization’s offices, which she described as a “miraculous provision from the Lord.”

“I knew that serving women in crisis was what I was supposed to do, so we started there,” she said, noting she recruited friends, family and supporters to help.

“During the time we were serving folks in the first four years, I realized pretty quickly that housing was a major need here, especially for women in crisis to have a spot where they could safely land and make plans, so I started working on a space for them to be able to live.”

They fundraised, and then during the pandemic, contractors were able to work and completed the housing project. It opened in January.

The mission of the nonprofit, Muhlenbeck said, is to offer help, healing and hope to women and families in crisis.

Though the organization has helped domestic violence victims and victims of sex trafficking, she said it has helped women of other circumstances as well.

“Whoever shows up from wherever they show up, we help,” she said.

She said “helping” refers to meeting physical needs.

She shared an example of a disabled woman whose basement had flooded with sewage and who had been storing her winter coat there. It was fall and winter was approaching, and she did not have a winter coat so they helped her find one.

They’ve helped a mother and children who were in a bad situation move out and into somewhere safe and helped them get small appliances for starting new.

In another instance, they helped provide a new bed for one woman who needed one for her child.

During the healing part of the mission, they introduce the women and their families to the love of Jesus Christ.

“They don’t have to do anything about it, but we share it,” Muhlenbeck said.

They also help get the women connected to resources for dealing with trauma and abuse, and connect them with things like Bible studies or camps.

Lastly, in the “hope” part of the mission, they help the women identify their needs and get them to a place where they can move forward and understand who they were created to be, she said, noting that they have had many success stories.

The organization served 50 women in its first four years and has served 15 since the housing opened.

They can serve four people in the housing at any one time, and she said they have served people as far as Glenville, Albert Lea, Mankato and even into Iowa.

“We don’t have a boundary,” Muhlenbeck said.

The churches and community have helped collaborate for many needs, and she thanked those who have supported their cause.

The greatest need, however, is finances, as the organization relies solely on donations, she said. She also asked for prayer for both the staff and their clients.

She said eventually she would like to expand the housing even further, as the need is evident.

While there are many housing opportunities in the Twin Cities, there are not many in Greater Minnesota.

People who want to purchase tickets to the concert to support the organization can do so on the Five Sisters Project website at fivesistersproject.com.

Tickets are $25 for in-person tickets, and there are also separate tickets available to watch a live-stream of the concert. All ticket buyers of in-person tickets will be entered into a drawing for a meet-and-greet with Gray before the concert.