The story of PROP’s humble beginnings is one of recognizing a neighbor’s need for food and other necessities and quietly organizing volunteers to fill that need.
Asked by an Eden Prairie church pastor to create Thanksgiving food baskets for seven needy families, local resident Gerry Beckmann responded. Later, Gerry gathered folks from various organizations at her home; from that discussion in 1971, PROP was born. The organization’s name came from the fact that this volunteer group was, at its heart, “People Reaching out to Other People.”
Collaboration has been a characteristic of PROP throughout its 43-year history. From our earliest days, we worked closely with schools, churches, civic organizations, and the police department to make certain that people in need knew about PROP. We also maintained close ties with county social-service agencies and other food shelves to make sure that a range of unduplicated services was nearby.
Initially, PROP operated from Beckmann’s home. Through donations from local stores and the support of many friends, faith communities and other volunteers, we quietly served the basic needs of residents in Eden Prairie and Chanhassen.
As the two communities and their needs grew, so did PROP.
In 1981, PROP became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. In 1983, having outgrown Beckmann’s home, we moved to unused space in the Eden Prairie Schools’ Administration Building. Later, we would occupy donated space in the lower level of the Eden Prairie City Center before purchasing our own 8,400-square-foot building in 2009.
Today, we have expanded our services, have seven paid staff members and more than 120 weekly volunteers. We remain committed to our founder’s original vision of providing important services with a personal approach, confidentiality, and dignity.