Randolph honored with McKnight AwardCo-workers and friends say that they cannot think of anyone who deserves the recognition more than Kim Randolph.
By: Clara Hatcher, Duluth Budgeteer News
Co-workers and friends say that they cannot think of anyone who deserves the recognition more than Kim Randolph.
Randolph received the Virginia McKnight Binger Award at a Twin Cities awards ceremony Wednesday for her efforts to help her community. She is one of six people in the state chosen to receive the honor.
“I do not feel like I am any more deserving than the rest of the people that work here [at CHUM],” said Randolph.
“I am definitely not alone in this job.”
Randolph had been a stay-at-home mom and had just graduated from college
when she first started working at CHUM in a temporary position. She said that when the nonprofit offered her a permanent job, she just couldn’t leave the agency. Randolph has been working with CHUM since 1987.
“She doesn’t want any recognition; none of us do,” said shelter outreach worker Deb Holman. “People don’t realize what she does on a daily basis.”
Randolph wears many hats in her job at CHUM, but Holman says that most people just call her the boss.
For more than 20 years, she has worked to help people get back on their feet through housing, employment and whatever else they need to maintain a stable life.
“I think that one of the reasons I got the award is because I stuck it out in this job for so long,” she said. “Most people here have specialties for their work, but I am a generalist. I run the CHUM center, the drop-by center and the emergency center,
as well as some individual advocacy.”
The purpose of the McKnight Binger Award is to recognize those who have personally helped others, in their job or lifestyle, throughout Minnesota, who receive little to no recognition for their work. The honorees also receive $10,000.
“What is particularly impressive is her commitment to handling what could be quite unsettling situations with calmness, firmness, and compassion,” said CHUM executive director Lee Stuart. “Over and over, she’s said to me, ‘We have to treat everyone the same. That’s how it works.’”
Randolph’s co-workers agreed that they don’t know how she keeps her head, especially with the job that she has at the center dealing with people who may have behavioral issues stemming from drug addiction and mental illness, as well as those who
are just tired and hungry. Holman said that it would be tough for anyone to maintain a job like that and continue to be open-minded and calm with those that come in for help.
“She’s tough in a kind of immovable ‘beyond-this-I-will-not-go, don’t-push-me’ way,” said Stuart. “And yet that toughness is rooted in profound dignity and respect both for herself and the
person she’s talking to, that the situation resolves more often than not and justice rules the day.”
Former colleague Erik Torch, now with the Northland Foundation, echoed that.
“She has been a huge influence on me over the years and has helped me form my approach to working with people,” he said. “She works with a lot of people with tremendous struggles, chemical addiction, mental health issues and people with so many different barriers standing between them and stability. Kim always goes about her work in a humble and compassionate way and I have always respected that.”
CHUM board member Per Wickstrom said Randolph “seems to know everybody ... where they’ve been, where they are going; she knows everything about these people. She is a mother figure.”
Wickstrom also talked about Randolph’s interest in photography. She has been taking photographs on her own since the early 2000s, explaining that she started by helping her kids with photography class in school and evolved from there.
“She will be awake at 4:30 in the morning roaming streets, back alleys and lakewalks all to find a good picture,” said Wickstrom. She frequently posts her photos to Facebook to rave comments, and shoots for Duluth-Superior Magazine.
Randolph explained that people are not always happy with her, but she has to be the one to keep everything in check and hold some feet to the fire when necessary.
“I feel amazed and guilty that I received this award over the other people that I work with,” said Randolph, “but overall, humbled.”