Connections Crawl 2

Julie Hendrycks points at a sports memorabilia item up for bid in a silent auction during the Connections Crawl benefit Thursday at the Hubbard Building. Items up for auction included autographed pictures by Harmon Killebrew, Adam Theilen, Prince and Mike Tyson. Funds raised will go toward plans for a year-round homeless shelter in Mankato.

Days like Thursday are why the Connections Ministry team wants a year-round homeless shelter in Mankato.

Pouring rain gave way to sticky humidity in the early evening, but the wet weather didn’t keep the group’s first official fundraiser from happening in Old Town. Organizers of the “Connections Crawl” hoped to raise between $20,000 at the event to go toward a permanent shelter.

The year-round shelter’s downtown location could soon be secured, although specifics won’t be announced until plans are finalized.

For now, the shelter will shed its rotating model in favor of a singular site this season at Covenant Family Church’s 709 N. Riverfront Drive location. The benefit at the Hubbard Building was about supporting both this year’s and future shelter plans, said Collette Broady Grund, associate pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

“We were hoping not only to raise a lot of money, but also the profile of our organization,” she said.

Silent auction items and 34 private food and beverage vendors were spread throughout the Hubbard Building’s four floors. The original plan called for attendees to sip and shop at Old Town businesses too, and while they still could once the rain ended, the action centered around the Hubbard Building.

A double-decker bus also brought folks down Riverfront Drive to see where the shelter will be this year. Covenant Family’s second floor can house as many as 25 guests per night.

Jennifer Valimont, shelter manager, said the benefit was likely the first introduction to Connections Ministry for many in attendance.

“The biggest thing is so many people tonight have never heard of Connections until tonight,” she said. “That awareness is huge.”

Lynn Glarner of Mapleton was one of the 400 or so who bought pre-sale tickets. She didn’t know about Connections beforehand, but called it a “worthy cause” while eyeing silent auction items.

Students were also among those newly introduced to the shelter’s mission. The Minnesota State University’s Entrepreneurship Club and Delta Sigma Pi helped organize the event on social media and volunteered to staff it.

Brooke Dorn, a marketing major who serves as club president, said students in the club will become more involved at the shelter this upcoming season.

“We plan to have a longer relationships with them,” she said. “When they open up this coming fall, we plan to go there for meetings.”

The shelter’s third season runs from Oct. 14 to April. Connections ordered beds for guests to replace the cots of past seasons once the singular location was confirmed.

Grund anticipates Connections could move into a year-round location for the 2020 season.

“Our hope would be to move into that location for our fourth season,” she said.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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