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Making Snow Angels to Help Duluth’s Homeless Youth

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Making Snow Angels to Help Duluth’s Homeless Youth

The Rotaract Club at UMD is dedicated to supporting communities worldwide, so it’s no surprise that this campus group is organizing the “Make Your Mark: Angels for a Cause” event in Duluth, Minn., at UMD’s Malosky Stadium on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm. Rotaract, part of Rotary International, is a club for adults ages 18–30 that meets to exchange ideas, plan projects, and socialize, all while focusing on their main theme, Service Above Self.

Last year, Proctor High School’s DECA Club and Duluth Rotary Club 25 attempted to break the Guinness world record for the most snow angels made at once. Around 9,000 people were needed to accomplish the task, but only 1,900 angels were made at the first attempt last year for Angels for a Cause. While the world record wasn’t broken, a total of $50,500 was raised to help bring clean water to people in Africa.

Members of Rotaract fully believe Angels for a Cause is a great way to show support for one’s community, and it’s no different with this year’s event. That’s why Rotaract is working together with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), Churches United in Ministry (CHUM), and Life House, to help the community come together, create snow angels, and raise funds for the event. LSS’s raised funds will be put towards building a new shelter for homeless youth in Duluth, the Center for Changing Lives.

Jireh Mabamba, a freshman at UMD and president of the campus Rotaract, may not have grown up making snow angels having been born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but fleeing the country when he was eight years old left him with a relatable experience. When his family ended up in Durban, South Africa, they didn’t have money, didn’t know the language, and didn’t have a place to stay.

“I understand how important it is to help those in need,” Jireh said. (Read more of Jireh’s story in the Duluth Budgeteer News.)

Jireh Mambamba is the president of the UMD student club, Rotaract.

Alumna Lindsay Bruce (2011) is also one who understands. Working as Lutheran Social Service’s Oh No! Eighteen (ONE) Group Coordinator and Teen Closet Manager, Lindsay always knew she wanted to work with teenagers. After receiving her A.A. degree from a community college, Lindsay still didn’t have clear idea of what she wanted to do with her career, so she took a year and a half off from college and went to work full-time. She started envisioning herself changing the lives of her students, so she went to UMD to major in Secondary Education teaching Life Science.

“I remember calling my mom every week after a night class and telling her about all of the ‘aha!’ moments I had that day in school,” Lindsay said.

While she loved her student teaching placements, it became clear to Lindsay she was not doing her best work when briefly engaging with 150+ students each day. She really wanted to work more closely and with a smaller number of youth. After taking a volunteer position with Lutheran Social Services, she quickly fell in love with the work and was hired on as a full-time staff member less than a year later.

“I learned so much about how to successfully motivate a young person by being in tune to where they are in their life — emotionally, culturally, physiologically, and mentally,” Lindsay said. “I use the skills and knowledge I gained from my classes at UMD every single day in my current position at LSS.”

make your mark
Last year’s event may not have broken the record, but it raised funds for a fresh water project with the Hamar tribe in Ethiopia. (Photograph by Julie Kruse)

Along with coordinating both the ONE Group and Teen Closet, Lindsay also works with the LSS Youth Leadership Council, a group of current and former foster youth who advocate for youth in care.

“Being that the event [Angels for a Cause] highlights homeless youth, partnering with Rotaract to do this event was an obvious choice,” said ‘94 alumna Linnea Stephan, who also works for Lutheran Social Service as a major gifts officer.

LSS of Duluth has been helping homeless and at-risk youth find safety, stability and direction since 1988, and Linnea believes with Angels for a Cause, the event will help spread that message.

According to LSS, 92% of homeless youth who receive services from them are never homeless again. “What we’re doing at Lutheran Social Service is working, we just need the capacity to do more,” Linnea said.

Rotaract set themselves a goal of raising $25,000, and its with this money the three local non-profit organizations will create the Center for Changing Lives, a new center for homeless youth. As of Valentine’s Day, they had already reached the $11,000 mark.

“By raising awareness for the upcoming Center for Changing Lives, we’re hoping to grow support both in program funding and the capital campaign itself,” Linnea said.

But more than anything, they appreciate being included in this great community day.

The event on March 9 is a second attempt to break the world record for the most snow angels made simultaneously, but it’s also a fundraiser for an even greater cause than a Guinness World Record. Organizers suggest a donation of $5/person or $10/family is to participate on March 9.

“We’re hoping everyone who walks through the stadium gates will donate at least $1.00 to help us reach our goal of $25,000,” Jireh said.

Rotaract is actively reaching out to schools all over Duluth, as well as churches and city businesses. They have advertisements being aired on four radio stations, and several interviews have been given to local and regional newspapers.

“This is a great opportunity because youth is helping youth, and you don’t see that very often,” Jireh said.

make your mark event
An aerial view of last year’s attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for most snow angels made at once.

For more information about Make Your Mark: Angels for a Cause event taking place on March 9, visit their Facebook page. Feel free to share a photo of your best snow-angel-making form, too!