St. Andrew’s Community Resource Center Helps Create New Beginnings

St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church helps create new beginnings for those in need.
Cristel and Jeramie Knutson-Demars share happy moments at home with their sons.

Cristel and Jeramie Knutson-Demars found themselves and their three young boys homeless and sleeping in their car after Jeramie lost his job and the family ran out of money. Scared and unsure of where they would sleep each night or where they would find food for their growing boys, Cristel and Jeramie went to the St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church Community Resource Center to find help after hearing about it from a local police officer. The family spent their days at the community resource center looking for jobs and housing. And at night, they slept at the center’s Hope for the Journey Home” shelter at Guardian Angels Church in Oakdale.
“We are so thankful for the help we’ve received from the community resource center at St. Andrew’s,” Cristel says. “If it wasn’t for them, we don’t know where we would be. We would probably still be homeless.”

Reaching Out

The community resource center opened in 2011 as a way to help people struggling to find employment, pay bills or find a stable place to live.
“In 2008 and 2009, we were finding with the downturn of the economy that there were a lot of folks in the suburbs looking for solutions and places to go for help,” says former community resource director Kellie Cardinal, who now serves as a consultant to the center. “At the same time, we were trying to do something that showed the community that we cared.”
The center staff found there were places in the city that provide overnight shelter, but to help people get on their feet as quickly as possible, it was important to provide daily case management as well. Today, the center houses about 10 families each night in its emergency shelter program, where each family gets its own bedroom. During the day, the families spend their time at the community resource center. Families are invited to stay at the overnight shelter as long as they are progressing, until they get on their feet again and are able to find their own housing.
The center provides a variety of services, including emergency shelter, short-term housing, computer access for job and housing searches, mentoring, tax preparation services, a free summer lunch program, a school supplies drive, holiday help and weekly Bible study. The center also provides a free community meal each Thursday at 6 p.m.
“We also have an emergency food pantry available for families that aren’t quite making it between paychecks, or are in between food support,” Cardinal explains.
The center stocks its pantry with packaged bags containing shelf-stable items. It’s also able to add milk, eggs, cheese and fresh produce with the help of its Second Harvest partnership.  

Bringing Hope
For the Knutson-Demarses, the community resource center offered case management and counseling to help equip them with life skills, and an opportunity to achieve housing stability. Case managers also helped connect Jeramie to employment opportunities. Eventually, he found a full-time job. Most recently, Jeramie was promoted to a management position. The family moved into an affordable duplex about a year ago.
“We see little miracles here every single day,” Cardinal says. “I love seeing people smile and have hope again after being [at the resource center] for a week or two.”
The community resource center couldn’t provide all of its services without the help of nearly 200 volunteers. And for Cardinal, one of the most gratifying parts about the resource center has been when people who have been helped by the center’s services come back and volunteer to help others themselves.
“I love listening to them give messages of hope to those who are going through something similar today,” she says.
Lend a Hand
In addition to volunteering at the center, community members can donate through the holiday giving tree. This year, Cardinal says there is a specific need for everyday items for families in transition. To contribute, stop by the lobby of St. Andrew’s Church, remove a tag from one of the trees and return your gift to the community resource center by December 15. Needs are also listed on, keyword “St. Andrew’s”.

The Community Resource Center is open Monday–Wednesday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; Thursday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Friday–Sunday by appointment. For more information, visit or call 651.762.9124.