UMD’s Honor Student Association has reached out to the community in a new manner this year. With the hopes of impacting the hunger issues in Duluth, the UMD Student Association has connected with the CHUM. CHUM is a Duluth organization affiliated with helping the homeless and hunger concerns throughout the city. It began in 1973 and has worked with meeting the basic needs of low-income families.
Lee Stuart, executive director of CHUM, refrains from using the word homeless as an adjective to describe a person.
“A person is not homeless; they are a person who has faced homelessness,” Stuart said. “This organization is dedicated to helping families who have faced homelessness meet their basic needs and get back up on their feet.”
Over the summer, UMD’s Honor Student Association requested a partnership with CHUM. Ryan Goei, Honors Program director, knew Stuart from previous volunteer experiences that Honors has had with CHUM. The Honors Program requires a certain amount of volunteer involvement for students, and many have chosen to collaborate with CHUM in the past.
“The students, though, wanted something different,” Goei said. “We wanted to make something our thing.”
When the Honors Student Association contacted CHUM, Stuart had the perfect project in mind.
CHUM is in the process of building the Steve O’Neil Apartments, a complex dedicated to Duluth residents who are, or have been, homeless for an extended period of time. CHUM invited honors students to help with the project, where they will spend a great portion of their volunteer hours furnishing the apartments, working the grounds of the apartments, and helping the residents move in during the coming months.
Currently, the CHUM website has a link that allows the public to donate money to the site to purchase furniture and other necessities to complete the apartments. Students in the Honors Student Association are fundraising to help. Their aim is to raise an amount of $10,000 by Dec. 15. All funds will go to the Steve O’Neil Apartments.
Campaigning began two weeks ago and $2,000 has been raised. Kevin Hughes, president of Honors, feels optimistic that the goal is achievable.
“We’ve done so much in just a week and a half,” Hughes said. “I think we can do it.”
There is talk of the Honors Student Association holding a bake sale in Kirby in the next few weeks. However, Hughes, Stuart and Goei all stress that the program could use campus-wide involvement.
“The institutional partnership will exist between Honors and CHUM, but that doesn’t mean other UMD students can’t participate,” Stuart said.
Besides fundraising, moving people in and buying furniture, the Honors Student Association plans on involving itself on a deeper level with the Steve O’Neil Apartments.
“We want the students to become a constant in the lives of the residents,” Lee said.
The Honors Student Association will reach out to the residents of the apartments and offer assistance in their daily lives. The students will specifically target the youth.
“This whole organization is really about the children,” Lee said.
The plan is for honors students to volunteer as mentors, tutors or playmates to the youth of the Steve O’Neil Apartments.
“The goal is for the students to connect with the community on a more interactive level,” Goei said.
The different activities that the honors students participate in will vary depending on the ages of children living in the apartments.
“The idea is that one student could be assigned to one child and stay with that child for their entire college career,” Goei said. “If we give the kids someone to look up to, I think we substantially improve their lives.”
The collaboration between CHUM and Honors is still in the beginning process, as is the Steve O’Neil Apartments. CHUM is currently selecting families that qualify for residency. The final complex will have a total of 44 apartments, and 10 have been furnished so far. The honors program is busy fundraising and spreading the word.
If students would like to buy products for the Steve O’Neil Apartments, contact CHUM or the UHSA for more details.
BY AISLING DOHENY Staff Reporter