the Impact of Care &

our Founder

Frances Harris

Photo of Urban Partnership Founder Francis Harris

Community Service Awards:

June 22, 2017 – Received the 2017 Minnesota Age & Disability Odyssey Award for her community accomplishments in Duluth, Minnesota.

December 4, 2015 - Christopher B. Coleman, Mayor of the City of Saint Paul proclaim Friday, December 4th, 2015 “Mrs. Frances Virginia (Lyons) Harris Day”, in the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

September 5, 2015 - Received the 2015 AARP Minnesota Andrus Award for Community Service - AARP’s most prestigious and visible state volunteer award. This award was given for her volunteer tutoring for K- third grade in the school system for the past 4 years and organizing and maintaining a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to older adults. Nominated by Erin Simon, Experience Corp.

January 20, 2014 - The MLK Local Legend Award in recognition of outstanding volunteer service and contributions to the Twin Cities Community. Nominated by Reverend Runney Patterson and New Hope Baptist Church.

May 7, 2010 - Bethel Seminary’s Who’s Who in Community Ministry Leadership Recognition Award. Nominated by Reverend Jonathan Berry.

Receiving these awards has encouraged Mrs. Harris to continue pursue her passion to reach out and help our senior community. Her long-term goal for Urban Partnership is to build a senior center where African American seniors can continue receiving education to enrich their culture for generations to come.

Logo for Urban Partnership Community Organization

Frances Virginia (Lyons) Harris was born on March 2, 1939 in Dilton, Tennessee on a farm outside of Murfreesboro. She has always admired and is grateful to her mother was reared seven children while taking care of her father, who was paralyzed and unable to walk or talk due to the result of a stroke. In 1959, after graduating from high school, she moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota. That same year, she met and married her husband of 37 years, the late Deacon Queen Harris. Unfortunately, during the first year of marriage, they received devastating news that she had cancer. However, God blessed her with a loving and spiritually strong companion. Through the power of prayer, she was healed and this union was blessed with two beautiful daughters (Victoria and Schalanda). She is proud that both of her daughters have graduated from college and followed in her footsteps to serve others while rearing families of their own.

Mrs. Harris has been a member of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church for 45+ years. While at Shiloh, she has served as: Treasurer, Sunday School Teacher, Mission President, Young Adults for Christ Director, and on the Mothers Board. Mrs. Harris continues to be an active member of Shiloh where Reverend Steve Daniels, Jr., is the Senior Pastor.

She is a pillar of our community and has worked to strengthen the fabric of this community in many ways throughout her lifetime. For instance, while serving as President of the Minnesota State Women’s Auxiliary from 1977 – 1979, Mrs. Harris instituted the “Love Feast”. It was designed to bring the elderly from nursing homes and various institutions to give them an opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of their Twin Cities sisters and brothers in Christ. Also, this time would be used to introduce new services that were available for seniors. Each year, this feast takes place every first Saturday in March to honor Mrs. Harris’ birthday which is attended by 350 community seniors and leaders.

Mrs. Harris continued to embrace and treasure the teachings of her mother, who said “you are never too old to learn”. She entered a two-year Graphic Arts Program. After graduation, she opened the “Quality First Print Shoppe” until her husband’s illness started to progress. Unfortunately, he lost his battle with cancer in 1996. Still determined to learn, at the age of 62, she returned to college and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Service Management from Concordia University. In 2004, she completed Executive Director training, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Frances wanted to do more for the seniors in the community. In 1999, she co-founded Urban Partnership and Community Development Center (UPCDC) in partnership with her church as a community-based organization to bridge the gap between seniors and services. In 2004, it was incorporated as a 501c3 tax exempt nonprofit organization. The vision of UPCDC originated through the Founder/Executive Director, Mrs. Frances Harris, who had experienced a life altering event, the terminal illness of a spouse, and wanted to help other in similar situations.

Mrs. Harris has shared with us many times what it was like to live during a crisis with little and sometimes no knowledge of where to find the proper resources that would help her spouse live his final days more comfortable. Especially, knowing he had worked all his life and just when he was ready for retirement, discovered he had to face living with a terminal illness instead of traveling and having fun. It was especially devastating to Mrs. Harris not finding solutions to her many problems, such as; how do you keep working and take care of your spouse? What is hospice care, and where do you find information about it? Why do I have to sell my home of 37 years due to medical bills? After his death, Mrs. Harris used every opportunity to do research for answers to her overwhelming experience - even in the midst of looking for a place to live.

The Mission of Urban Partnership is “To enhance the soul of our community through connecting senior citizens to each other and to living assistance services”.

Urban Partnership programs are designed to help seniors take responsibility for themselves by staying in their homes and living independently with dignity. We offer such programs as: Healthy Senior Living (Pathways to a Healthier Lifestyle), WeCare (Homebound Seniors), Performance Arts (Senior Community Choir which combat loneliness and depression), and Human Services (referral services for housing and transportation). In the past thirteen years, Urban Partnership has served over 300 seniors throughout Saint Paul and surrounding communities.

The overall goal of UPCDC is to assist disadvantaged African American seniors in the Frogtown, Summit/University, Como Park, Selby/Dale and North End neighborhoods in the City of Saint. Paul. Our programs focus on helping seniors, who are forced to give up independent living because they are unable to find the proper resources and services to meet their needs, such as; healthy senior living, obtaining medical assistance, assisted living, protecting their home and/or assets from being taken away, and housing and transportation referral services. We have seen family crises occur and family members struggle to assume responsibility for loved ones without adequate preparation. Therefore, Urban Partnership will do everything it can to meet their basic needs and expectations. For senior citizens who have no family, our volunteers assume the role of a surrogate family so that seniors feel safe, supported, and nurtured.
For the past five years, Mrs. Harris served as a Volunteer Tutor through AARP Foundation/Experience Corps where she helps K thru third grade at Obama and Michelle Elementary School to improve their reading skills.