Local view: Twin Ports pitched in to help the homeless, a never-ending plightIt has been said numbers don’t lie. This year’s Homeless Project Supply Drive to benefit the Human Development Center’s Homeless Project in Duluth and Project Reach Out in Superior ended this month, yet awareness continues of the important service each agency provides.
By: David Worley, for the News Tribune
It has been said numbers don’t lie. This year’s Homeless Project Supply Drive to benefit the Human Development Center’s Homeless Project in Duluth and Project Reach Out in Superior ended this month, yet awareness continues of the important service each agency provides.
Supported by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Duluth program, the drive was very successful and rewarding. After days of sorting, counting and organizing items collected over the course of two weeks, the Human Development Center reported a total of $19,129 of winter outdoor gear, food, supplies and cash donations.
Wow! That’s a really impressive number made possible by our impressive Twin Ports community.
Speaking of numbers, did you follow — and feel — the low temperatures our area endured in January? In case you haven’t ventured outside or are lucky enough to be reading this online from a warm location, lows have been in the teens to 30 degrees below zero. In conditions like these, it takes very little time to succumb to the deadly effects of hypothermia without proper clothing or shelter. The value of the winter clothing and supplies donated becomes something far more significant than a monetary number, given the immediate potential for the utilization of these items by those in need in such harsh conditions. The numbers, at least to me, take on a very tangible and powerful human context.
Numbers may not lie, but they don’t tell the entire story, either. This drive could not have happened without the support and generosity of the people and businesses of the Duluth and Superior communities. They include the enthusiastic volunteers from the Human Development Center in both Superior and Duluth; Leadership Duluth members and their families; local businesses like US Bank, Essentia-St. Mary’s Superior Clinic and Allete Corporation, all of which hosted collection bins; the Walmart locations in Superior and Hermantown, where two half-day collection drives were staged; and Lake Superior Rental, which provided a trailer to transport donations.
I was emotionally touched on multiple occasions during the two-week drive by the generosity of all people who donated or participated, but never more so than the day I drove out to pick up more items from one of the US Bank locations. As I placed the last of the clothing and supplies into my car, I read a handwritten message scrawled on the outside of a box. The writer, and donor of the clothing, hoped and prayed the contents of the box might help alleviate someone’s suffering.
Driving home after unloading the last of the donations, my 12-year-old daughter, Greta, and I talked about her impressions of the experience. She, her brother and several other children of volunteers from the Leadership Duluth team worked hard through many hours of cold, windy weather and saw firsthand hundreds of people, young and old, donating bags of clothing, food and supplies. Greta also saw the looks of gratitude on the faces of the Human Development Center volunteers who understood what these supplies would mean to people who really needed them. She was filled with a sense of hope.
Make no mistake, this drive didn’t solve the problem of homelessness in our midst, but the generosity and efforts of this community in supporting this event may help someone who is homeless survive another day, week or month in the harshest of our winter conditions. That might just be long enough to help that same individual find the help and services that could begin to put his or her life back on track.
Hope. We can all feel good about that. And the pride that comes from living in a community that reaches out to help another in need. My Leadership Duluth project team is proud to call this place home.
David Worley of Duluth is a family physician at the University of Minnesota Duluth Health Services, is a magazine columnist, and is a member of Leadership Duluth, a program of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Fellow Leadership Duluth members Lesa Radtke and Eric Peterson contributed editing suggestions.