Elevate Team

Melinda McDermott – Founder/Executive Director

Melinda is the Founder and Executive Director of Elevate Hope House. She spends a great deal of time with her family, whether it’s attending baseball games where her son pitches and her husband coaches or having tea parties with her two girls. She has a variety of interests, but none more important than serving others in her community!

For the last 10 years, Melinda has been on a career path of leadership, initially in retail management, then working with businesses and families throughout the metro area. She earned both her undergrad in Business Management and her MBA from Bethel University. At the end of her MBA program, she realized that her heart truly resided with families and children, and she has spent the last several years working with organizations in Anoka County on the fight to end homelessness – specifically focusing on families.

In addition to her work with Elevate, Melinda is thrilled to also work for an Early Childhood Learning Company. The combination of leadership experience and career experience in early childhood education gives her an ideal perspective to steer our organization! While leadership is a priority, Melinda’s overwhelming desire is to help guide the moms we work with on a path of self-sufficiency through Christ. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (I John 3:16-18, NLT)


Caryn Buxengard – Director of Family Relationships/Treasurer

Caryn joined Elevate in 2018. She is an active wife and mom. Caryn works for Code42 Software, Inc. as a Revenue Accountant is very active in her church in children’s ministry.  She loves to be outdoors and you will find her with her family in the spring, summer, and fall camping and enjoying God’s creation!

Caryn has a B.S in Speech and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Psychology.  This education laid a foundation for her life and has supported her strong desire to help children and families be strong and healthy.

Tami Shinder – Program Director

Tami Shinder joined Elevate Hope House in 2019. She has a passion for walking alongside people as they pursue God’s purpose for their lives. Her volunteer experience spans from Hospice Care to Hope for Youth; she is also active in her church working in Care Ministries and First Impressions.

A driving force in Tami’s life is the promise from Jeremiah 29 that God has a plan for each of us and that He is in control!



Carmen Cruz – Residential Housing Advocate (Ham Lake)

Carmen joined Elevate in 2020 as the Residential Housing Advocate of our first home in Ham Lake! During her interviews with Elevate, Carmen continually expressed how much she loves children and Jesus with “her everything,” and that she believes she is on this earth to “know God, and be known by Him, while obediently following Him.” Her first love was and is Jesus – who could ask for more in our primary advocate for these young moms every day?

While living each day as a Residential Housing Advocate, Carmen also loves to spend time with her own family, volunteering at her church with the youth, as well as continuing her secondary education! She is a busy lady, with a wonderful heart, and Elevate is truly blessed to have added her to our team.