Family Pathways holds mock court hearing in North Branch; next fundraising event set for Nov. 7 in Forest Lake
At 9 years old, Brady Dietsch has decided to use his allowance money to bail his mother out of jail.
Actually, it’s all in good fun and for a good cause in support of the Family Pathways food shelf in Forest Lake. His mother, Diane Dietsch, is one of many local residents who has volunteered to act as a “Suspect of Crimes of Compassion” to help her neighbors who are struggling with food scarcity.
Family Pathways held the first of its two annual Bail or Jail events Thursday night, Oct. 31, at The Oak Inn Restaurant & Lounge in North Branch. The organization is hosting the second 3:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, at Famous Dave’s in Forest Lake.
In benefit to Family Pathways’ four main food shelves in the area, Bail or Jail is a humorous fundraiser held in a mock court setting at a local restaurant, which also provides “jail grub” to participants.
Prior to their impending arrest, “suspects” receive warrants that instruct them to gather at least $250 in pledges before the event. Each suspect participates in a mock court hearing where they present their bail fee to an honorary judge. The fun continues when suspects have their mugshots taken behind bars, while the top fundraisers receive prizes.
People can participate through the following roles:
• Suspect-volunteer — personally raise funds that cover bail for their “Crimes of Compassion.”
• Plaintiff — place an unwitting friend, coworker or family member behind bars to raise money for Family Pathways food shelves.
• Bail Bond Company — companies, clubs and civic groups sponsor bond money by designating a supplemental fundraising match. Amounts ranging from $250 to $2,000 are requested, but donations of any size are welcome. Sponsors receive public recognition, too.
Family Pathways puts on the annual event to help stock and generate proceeds for the organization’s main food shelves in North Branch, Forest Lake, Cambridge and Lindstrom, which distributed more than 1.7 million pounds of food during 22,000 family visits last year. Its food shelf in Forest Lake, alone, accommodates an average of 218 family visits per month.
“We’ve been doing this for about seven years now,” said Lynn Kirk, development director for Family Pathways, at the North Branch Jail or Bail event. “It’s a low-budget event, and the point is all the money goes to people who need the help. (The fundraiser) is really successful, fun and gets the community involved. People can join together to help our neighbors.”
Jail or Bail raises between $28,000 and $30,000 total per year, and the supplemental match by participating local businesses, or “bail bond companies,” is all optional, Kirk added.
This family-friendly event mobilizes local communities including Forest Lake, where participants such as Brady prove that compassionate hearts come in all sizes. He is supporting his mother’s fundraising effort with a $10 donation or bail amount at her mock court hearing Thursday at Famous Dave’s.
“Everyone should have a good meal so they can grow up strong and healthy,” he said.
Last year’s event raised $28,869, and Family Pathways is hoping to surpass that figure in an effort to continue serving the ever-increasing number of local families who are struggling to make ends meet.
Are you “Guilty of Compassion” for your neighbors in need? If so, contact Adrianne at 763-552-7284 or adrianne@familypathways to get involved and support the Family Pathways food shelf of your choice. Participation, sponsorship and allowance earnings are appreciated, she said.