Life House in Duluth embraces successesKelly Curtis had no place to live and take care of her child. She was having serious time management issues when it came to jobs and child care. Then a friend recommended she go to Duluth’s Life House.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
Kelly Curtis had no place to live and take care of her child. She was having serious time management issues when it came to jobs and child care.
Then a friend recommended she go to Duluth’s Life House, a support center for homeless youth and others trying to get their lives together.
“I just needed that chance,” Curtis said.
She proved it by accomplishing two goals in the year she has used Life House to get back on her feet. She was honored Wednesday afternoon at the center’s Celebration of Success for finishing two semesters of college and staying in housing for more than six months. The 21-year-old was honored along with more than 24 other people in reaching goals in education, housing, employment and health services.
It’s a version of graduation day for the center.
Outreach worker Erich Lutz has been there for Curtis since the day she walked in. He said her progress has inspired him.
“She had no place to go,” he said of the day he met her a year ago. Now, he said, she’s going to get a college education.
“She personifies what we do,” he said as Curtis thanked him profusely as the celebration continued after the ceremony.
Lutz said Life House doesn’t work unless the people who go there take its guidance to heart. He said he would have to quit his work out of frustration if people like Curtis stopped coming along.
“It’s up to the youth,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the Kellys, I couldn’t be here.”
Curtis was tearing up in appreciation.
“It was weird,” she said of her first moments at Life House. “I wasn’t used to being appreciated.”
Life House served 600 youths last year, director Maude Dornfeld told a crowd gathered in the parking lot next to the Life House building on West First Street. Many of those who come, nearly a third, are homeless, she said, and Duluth has only 25 beds for youth. It’s one of many problems Life House and its partners are working on, she said.
Mayor Don Ness said he’s impressed in this graduation season with the progress made by those at Life House.
“They have a longer path, a more difficult path,” Ness said. “Their accomplishments are even more worthy of praise.”
Curtis said she would recommend Life House to anyone who needs help. She wouldn’t be where she is today without its guidance, she said.
“And they’re happy to do it.”