Written By Tara Sullivan, Communications Committee Member
If you’re a fan of cinnamon rolls, you might want to get to know Tina Arend — like family! Because she only teaches her grandmother’s cinnamon roll recipe to family members. Every summer they gather at the lake by the dozens for summer fun and made-from-scratch, fresh-from-the-oven rolls.
From School Drives to Bulletin Appeals
Another reason to meet Tina? She’s the new board chair for The Open Door (TOD) as of April. A board member since 2018, and most recently Vice President, she brings a depth and breadth of expertise to the board from a variety of professional roles spanning finance and accounting to strong community connections as a resident of Dakota County for over 25 years.
Now as Chair, she’s looking ahead from a broad leadership perspective. “We are in a great position now that we have settled in a new location. We are ready to launch into the future to determine how best to meet needs effectively. For example, how can we partner even more with other service providers in Dakota County?”
A long-time resident of Eagan, Tina has been involved with TOD since the days of food drives at her kids’ elementary school. Beyond seeing the name all around town, The Open Door also came up quite often at her church, St. John Neumann, one of the organization’s three founding faith communities. All of that paved the way for her to answer the call for board members via a church bulletin appeal.
“I was looking for another active volunteer role,” said Arend, “I was also in a leadership role at Thomson Reuters, a local Fortune 500 company, and could see how I could strengthen the corporate and the community connections.”
Sustain Your Strengths and Grow Forward
While her focus as board chair is leadership and governance for growth, she understands that the key is to maintain the quality of daily service. “We have folks out there who are just a couple of steps away from needing to visit a food shelf. The Open Door meets that need with innovative distribution methods treating staff, volunteers, and clients with the dignity they all deserve. I view that not just as a service, but as transformational.”
One aspect Tina admires about TOD, and sees an increasing need for, is its Mobile Pantry. “Bringing the food to where the people are,” as she puts it, “it’s not easy, logistically, but it’s what’s needed. Not everyone has a way to get to a food shelf, but the need is there.”
Don’t be Shy — Spread the Word
When asked what the community can do to help, it might surprise you that a financial contribution isn’t the first thing Arend mentions (although TOD needs those, too!). Her request: spread the word and share the impact.
“Food scarcity is in our backyard. We always view it as so far away, but it’s here in Dakota County. We each need to help our community members, our neighbors. Hunger isn’t something that’s going to go away on its own. Tell stories, invite friends and family to volunteer with you, and share a social post from TOD. It’s easy to think someone else will solve the problem, but the reality is we each need to play a part.”