CERT now has a head office at Edgewood Apartments

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Community Engagement Response Team, or CERT, has an official center in southeast Rochester.

The group that has grown to more than 20 volunteers was formed last summer, following the fatal shooting of Todd Lorne Banks Jr. in Rochester.

This incident motivated community members to form the group to help prevent and resolve issues between community members and provide resources to those in need, especially within underrepresented groups.

In December, CERT rented a three-bedroom apartment in Edgewood’s Apartment, to house its community center.

“So if it’s someone who needs something, we’re here,” Lisa Ross said.

The center has a living room with a sofa and two bedrooms equipped with desks and laptops.

“We have the setup for our kids. For those doing distance learning and those needing tutoring,” said Andre Crockett.

Crockett said six laptops were donated by Hope Fuse, a nonprofit that helps tackle youth poverty in Rochester.

He said the organization will provide 12 additional laptops for use by CERT.

“We have different laptops that we can help our tenants with workforce development here. And for different organizations that are coming to be able to reach residents here,” Crockett said.

Why Edgewood Apartments?

“This is one of the poorest neighborhoods you can find in Rochester and obviously where the poverty is is the crime. And so we come to bring resources to this underserved community,” said Crockett said.

Charles Jackson is the CERT member who will spend most of his days and nights at the center and leads the effort as a liaison between Edgewood residents and the property manager.

He works to build better relationships with the tenants and landlord and helps the tenant better understand their tenancy agreement.

Plus, he’s on call to help ease any issues between anyone on the property.

“A few tenants say they feel safer since we’ve been here. And it just feels like, “Okay, this can work,” Jackson said.

CERT wants everyone in the community to know that their doors are wide open, but it works hard to change the narrative around people of color and bring resources directly to them.

“We can serve the BIPOC community in a whole new light, so we are usually able to do that. We are staying inside an apartment building,” Crockett said.

“So when they keep seeing us working in the community and building the community. We hope they take ownership of what we’re doing, to do the same,” Jackson said.

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