Banyan Buzz
January, 2018
Banyan Community invites you to join us under the Banyan tree as we share our joys, challenges and life events while living and growing together! Banyan Buzz is a way to bring you into the center of our conversations to celebrate with us. Enjoy!
Joani Essenburg, Co-Founder & Executive Director
Upcoming Events
Mark your calendar
Hey Banyan!
Tuesday, February 27
Compassion and Justice
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Roseville Lutheran Church
Hey Banyan! is an informal opportunity to learn more about the work and impact of Banyan. It is a wonderful event to bring friends and colleagues together to connect in a casual community setting.
Leadership Breakfast
Friday, April 13th
7:30 am - 9:00 am
Join others to hear from a panel of leaders and discuss the future of urban America.
Interested in sponsoring the event? Contact us for details.
Visit our website for more details and to register.
Staffing Up for Growth
We are excited to welcome new members to the Banyan team focused on developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community.
Nancey Riley-Belton
Family Advocate
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Nancey is dedicated to nurturing families and empowering communities of color to portray strong cultural values, prosper economically, and thrive through opportunities. Nancey brings over 30 years of experience working with children and families from various communities, generations, and backgrounds.  She has held positions in child protection, child welfare, therapy, and counseling. She recently retired as Supervisor with Ramsey County Human Services. She comes to Banyan to return to working directly with families and building them up to their highest levels.
Nancey is a Licensed Social Worker and active member of the National Association of Black Social Workers. She holds a Certificate of Group Counseling from Metropolitan State University, St Paul, MN; a Masters of Psychology from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN; and a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Southwest State University, Marshall, MN.
Geissell Figueroa
Community Organizer
Article ImageGeissell is a parent and community resident of Banyan who thrives in the joy and energy of bringing community members together to become stronger. Bringing strong roots from Nicaragua, Mexico, and her childhood years in Phillips, Geissell’s commitment to the diversity of Phillips Community is strong. Her experience as an office professional, bilingual paraprofessional, freelance choreographer, and community organizer positions her well to connect with neighborhood residents to build assets.
Geissell leads the LightHouse Network, the largest organized block club network in Phillips Neighborhood. She is recruiting, training, and walking alongside neighborhood leaders who in turn build community on each block. Geissell holds multiple awards and certificates in child development, office management, and community leadership.
Goodbye and Welcome
New Year Brings Board Changes
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Banyan is blessed with a hard-working and dedicated Board of Directors. It is bittersweet to have a few members roll off every year to make room for new members.
We celebrated and said goodbye to two outstanding board members at our December meeting. Shout out to Barry Lieske and David Tynesthank you for your Board service to Banyan! 
Banyan is pleased to welcome Jeff Wertz (TCF Equipment Finance) and Mike O'Keefe (DeLaSalle High School) to the Board of Directors as the Class of 2021. 
Banyan Board of Directors
Banyan's Board of Directors is an active and engaged group ready to connect with you about resources for Banyan's future. Feel free to contact us.
Banyan Board:
Mike Wilczynski, Chair
Carol Wolfe, Vice Chair
Trevor Knight, Secretary
Dan Farley, Treasurer
Susan Haffield
Justin Hanratty
Lisa Mauer
Michael O'Keefe
Brian Provost
Jeffrey Wertz
Support Banyan Online
Banyan now accepts donations online! This is a convenient and secure way to support the work of Banyan. Give it a try!
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Celebrating Our First 20 Years
Banyan's work 'officially' began in 1998
Article ImageIt started with a block club, then a Kids Club, and finally in 1998 Banyan Community was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. 

What began as an idea when Tim and Joani Essenburg moved to the Phillips neighborhood in 1990, is now 20 years of developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community. Join in celebration throughout 2018.
We will be celebrating the past and what the future holds for Banyan Community at our events, in your stories, and with photos on Facebook. 
The core belief that lasting community change is most successful when it comes from residents of the community through gifts, leadership, and vision still guides our work today.
Thank you for your gifts, leadership, and vision over time and into the future. You are an important part of this celebration!
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Show Your Banyan Spirit!
Raffle Tickets Available
Want a 1 in 200 chance - incredible odds! - to win 2 of the hottest tickets in town?! 
Banyan is selling 200 raffle tickets for $250 each for a chance to win 2 tickets to Super Bowl LII.
You can purchase tickets at Banyan on weekdays between 7:30 am and 6:00 pm through Tuesday, January 30th and on Saturday, January 27th from 9:00 am to noon. By law, tickets cannot be purchased online or by credit card. 
All proceeds benefit Banyan Community's work developing youth, strengthening families and creating community in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis. Click here for more details!
Show your Banyan spirit!
Banyan Scholars
Bowling: All the cool kids are doing it!
Article ImageBanyan Scholars are our college kids - 26 youth at 15 different colleges and universities! These youth grew up in Banyan and are now forging their way as 1st generation college students.
The Scholars program is designed to ensure a smooth transition for youth and parents into college and help with navigating college systems with a focus on career preparation (resume workshops, internship planning, etc.) and graduation.
The holiday break was a great time for our college youth to connect with each other and staff, as well as share stories and plans for the future. What better place than the bowling alley?! #ChangingTheNeighborhood 
Banyan Youth Explore Careers
Perry Outreach Program
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Two Banyan youth participated in this one-day, hands-on experience for high school women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students heard from women leaders in these fields and tried it for themselves by performing mock orthopedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments.
Congratulations to Estefani and Jasmine for being accepted to the program and experiencing a day in the life! They look so official!
Thank You for an Amazing 2017!
You Made A Difference
Article ImageWe continue to count our blessings at Banyan - the financial support to do our work, the youth that come every day, the families who willingly partner with Banyan to change their future, and the neighborhood that rolls up its sleeves and welcomes transformation.
Last year was a milestone for Banyan, with our first full year in our new building and an aggressive growth plan built on a growing operating budget. With your help - we did it! Thank You.
In this video, Aidee reflects on how Banyan has made a difference in her life, a great reminder of the value of your support.
Frigid Holiday Break = Fun Times
Keeping Warm at Banyan
Article ImageSchool Release Days are opportunities for enrichment to close the opportunity gap one experience at a time.
This holiday break came with record breaking cold temperatures. But it was warm at Banyan! 
Banyan youth were thankful to have access to the gym where our PE Specialist led a wide variety of games to get the wiggles out.
The break ended with a field trip to Grand Slam for golfing, playing laser tag, and building community. The trip included an epic middle school laser tag battle of the sexes that ended in the girls' favor, by one shot!
Why a Banyan Tree?
Symbolism Behind the Name
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The Banyan is a fig tree, which grows in tropical regions, with a large center trunk and long branches that send out vines that grow downward and form new trunks creating a grove of trees.
Before Banyan was Banyan, Tim Essenburg was talking to a friend and fellow Urban Community Developer, Bob Lupton. Lupton talked about different structures of communities. There is  the large oak tree that has one center trunk- high, tall, and strong, but one lightning strike and it is done. The Banyan tree, alternately, has many trunks and creates a whole grove of trees that become strong and stable together. 
This is our vision- a vibrant and connected urban neighborhood with roots and transformed lives! Each new trunk that forms represents a new family, the pillars of our community. 
Next time you are on vacation in Hawaii or Florida and see a Banyan tree, think of us building a strong community right here in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis. 
Home Visits
Supporting and Connecting Families to Resources
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Banyan strengthens families through our home visiting program. Every Banyan family has at least one home visit each year.
The home visit is focused on asset-development and results in goals for the family. As families participate in Banyan, we form a team/partnership and together learn how to advocate for children and address needs in our community. Parents share ideas and concerns, and staff repond with suggestions to address and work towards solutions.
The hundreds of hours spent conducting home visits result in over 3,000 connections linking families to resources and are the key to strengthening Banyan families!
Future Plans
Starts Early at Banyan
Article ImageSeveral of our 8th graders took the entrance exam at DeLaSalle High School last weekend, going one step further on their educational journey.
Future Orientation is an important tenant of our work. Middle school youth start exploring careers (both in research and practice during workplace visits), visiting college campuses, and completing service projects as a part of Banyan.
We provide opportunities to develop life skills and create paths of education success by teaching study skills and facilitating the development of positive values, identity, and empowerment.

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Address postal inquiries to:
Banyan Community
2529 13th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404