BROOKLYN CENTER (AP) -- Mary Jo Copeland, who has helped people in need through her Sharing and Caring Hands charity, announced plans Tuesday to build a home for children whose parents can't care for them.
''Years ago I had a dream,'' she said. ''I've seen some sad children that cannot be raised in their homes for whatever reason.''
Copeland said she plans to build a facility for 256 children on a 6-acre site near the Earle Brown Heritage Center in this Minneapolis suburb. The new facility, The Gift of Mary Children's Home, will be a permanent place for children between 4 and 11 who can't live in their homes and who face being split up from their siblings.
Minneapolis-based Target Stores is the first corporate sponsor of the $24 million project, slated to open by mid-2002.
Copeland said the three-story, 150,000-square-foot home will have 32 units that each will house eight children and a ''mom figure.''
''It's going to save so many children spiritually and physically,'' Copeland said.
Children living at the home, to be run by an order of nuns, will attend public schools but will live in a building with its own gymnasium, library and other amenities.
The home will be for children who do not have serious emotional or behavioral problems. Children whose parents have given up legal parental rights in some cases could stay in the facility until they are 18, she said.
Sharing and Caring Hands was founded in 1985 as a ''safety-net'' organization that is independent of state-funded welfare programs. The organization operates a food shelf and hot meal program, plus transitional living units for families and youth and health-care facilities.
Orphanage-like facilities for children have been a subject of public debate for many years.
In 1998, then-Gov. Arne Carlson proposed a system of ''residential academies'' for at-risk children, and the Minnesota Legislature approved $12 million to establish four schools. Two boarding schools have advanced since then. One is Synergy Residential Academy in Minneapolis, which is scheduled to open this fall. The other, a Catholic Charities academy, is planned to be built near Mankato. Two other programs have not panned out.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.