Eighth grader Madelyn delivered a $300 check funded by Stella Maris students to Life House this week. She was the winner of the eighth grade nonprofit research project, where she wrote an essay on Life House, and everyone was able to vote.
Well done, Madelyn!
Here is Madelyn’s essay. Your parish is very proud of you!
Lifehouse: Reconnecting Homeless and Street Youth to Their Dreams
Some of the everyday things in your life, things that you sometimes don’t think about, really matter to homeless and street youth in Duluth. Imagine a young woman having no home, nowhere to go, no food or water, and no one to talk to. She comes across Lifehouse, and she walks in the doors and is immediately greeted with smiling faces and bright colors. She soon makes amazing friends who are in the same position as she is, and she feels at home.
Lifehouse is a nonprofit organization that helps reconnect homeless and street youth to their dreams. Lifehouse was founded in 1991 when the founder asked her son why his friend hadn’t left their house from a sleepover two days before. He told her that his friend had nowhere else to go, so she decided to take action. In 1992 Lifehouse opened their first youth drop-in center in downtown Duluth, and implemented their housing program. Lifehouse serves over 700 youth, plus their small children, annually. Lifehouse offers programs such as the drop-in center, community and residential housing, mental health and wellness, and a future education and employment program. Each of these programs helps the youth to “connect, stabilize, heal, and thrive”.
“For some youth, they need a lot of help,” says Amy White, Lifehouse’s Development Officer. Lifehouse offers a free store full of everyday needs, such as food, clothes, baby supplies, and basic hygiene items. All of the things they get for their store are from donations. Since many of the youth don’t have homes, they offer housing for them. Some of it is temporary, and some is permanent. For teens, they have a teen loft which has bright colors, a commercial kitchen, and new furniture. Usually the teens can stay for ninety days at the teen loft, but they can extend their time. Next they have the Sol House, which is a house for young women who are survivors of sexual exploitation, who can live there for any length of time. The Sol house has six bedrooms and a wonderful study and kitchen area.
The Duluth Police Department also plays a huge role for Lifehouse. They’re there to help whenever they need them. “We as a police department have a good working relationship with the Lifehouse,” says Sergeant Ryan Morris. “We appreciate the hard work and dedication they have to making the lives of these children better and providing them the crucial guidance that they’re missing in their lives.” Investigator Nick Lepak is on the board for Lifehouse and is the voice of the DPD. “They understand what we’re trying to do,” says Amy White.
Lifehouse bought the building next door and is working on expanding to add more offices, including working on their very own candle business called Limitless Candles. Lifehouse has created this candle business for youth who are old enough to get jobs to get the practice they need before getting an actual job. The youth create a variety of scents for their candles including pine, cranberry marmalade, cucumber melon, and many more. You are able to buy these candles online at any time at the Limitless Candles website.
Lifehouse depends on donations such as food, clothing, and hygiene items to provide care to the youth. Much of their donations and funding goes towards their new expansion and making their facility even better.
Imagine, the young woman sits down on the bright yellow couch and is speaking with all the staff members about what happened to her. A lot of them can relate to how she is feeling, and she feels a sort of warmth inside her body because she knows that her true family is at Lifehouse. “We will never give up on our youth,” White says. “We’ll always be there for them.”
With help from the community, through financial and prayerful support, we can make these youth feel amazing, happy, and at home. ~ Madelyn Morris