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Role Models in North Minneapolis

I had started my service-learning at the Ascension Place in North Minneapolis and I had experiences much like Katie's. I was the minority and I knew it. Fortunately, those memories are not the ones that have affected me the most about my volunteering. I have had so many engaging conversations with many very incredible women.

I was very interested to realize that each woman has a very different story and a very different personality. During my time at the Ascension Place I provide healthy cooking lessons for any women that are interested. Though I have learned that there are many more women concerned with eating our desserts than actually cooking them, it has still been very fun. I have had one steady companion for the last three weeks; she is a great helper and has really opened up to me about her family and her chance to have a fresh start. This has affected me, and helped me look into my own life. What would I do if I had to start my life over? I can’t imagine losing trust in someone that I cared about so much that I would have to leave my house and my life. She is such a strong person and is trying to find a way to carry on and make a new home for her and her children. Her determination has really been inspiring to me. I thought that I had challenges in my cushy college life. My upcoming tests and homework seemed like such big obstacles, but this woman is facing something much worse. She has to restart her life from scratch, and she has a positive attitude about it. That in itself is so inspiring. Who would have ever thought that you could find a whole house full of role models in North Minneapolis, but I did. I have yet to meet a woman there who isn’t working to better her life for herself, her children, or other family members. That is such a great achievement and therefore is something that everyone should look to for guidance. These are some of the strongest women that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.


Alicia's story reminds me of a member of my distant family and their life long struggles. Her story is one filled with sadness and depression.

This certain member of my family had a child when she was only 15 years old. For this her family forced her and the father to move out and live on their own, both for the first time. Depressed because of these events and not happy with the father of her child, she packed up her belongings and moved to Wyoming. She lived there for many years, in and out of homeless shelters and Government housing. Her child changed schools several times due to behavioral problems and eventually dropped out completely before graduating high school. Years went by and she eventually made her way back to Northern Wisconsin. Her child had long since run away and hadn't spoken to her in nearly a year. This was when she hit rock bottom. She needed someone to help her. She found that individual at an assisted living facility in Duluth, MN. That person somehow got her motivated and she bagan working two jobs and attending college. She graduated last summer with a Bachelor Degree in Elementary Education. Her speech at her graduation party recapped the events I have described to you and gave praise to the volunteer and the assisted living shelter for helping her start a new life.

See! Volunteers can have a dramatic affect on the lives of the individuals at the shelters. It is time well spent.

I love Alicia's blog. Most wouldn't think of Ascension place as a location full of role models. It's almost like they're all in disguise. I love to think that role models exist in so many different kinds of people. Just an "average" human being to one person could be the world to another.

What is strange, and almost sad, is that most role models don't know what kind of impact they have on other people. Just recently I was talking with my dad about people who really mean a lot to me. I figured that most of them really had no idea how I felt. My dad said, "Why don't you tell them?" Tell them about how they mean the world to me?! Yeah, right, they'll think I'm stupid!! But I thought about it, and as hard as it is to tell someone how you feel about them, even if it's not in a romantic way, it can really have a great impact on that person. Think if someone told you they've always looked up to you and put you in very high regards. Almost everyone would love to hear that. So I started doing that. I've been telling people who I think are admirable or really special to me and I've gotten nothing but positive feedback. It also feels really great for me to know that those people don't go unnoticed. I know it's a hard concept for people to grasp, but I send this out as a challenge to everyone. Try letting people know how great they are. Let them know that their achievements don't go unnoticed. If you truly care about someone, why wouldn't you want them to know that? It's a great thing to try.

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