Service Projects

Background Information

Members of each Leadership Duluth class are asked to coordinate and execute a service project during their program year. The service project portion of the curriculum is meant to expose Leadership Duluth class members to the various social challenges that affect our community. Class members will be tasked with identifying a cause, organization, and team to work with to create change.The projects should positively impact the community and involve bringing together various organizational sectors including public, private and voluntary, to join forces and explore opportunities.

Current Service Projects That Need Your Support

Past Service Projects

Over the past 31 years, a variety of projects have helped our leaders make an impact on the community. Here is a glimpse of the impressive work that has been done through the Leadership Duluth program.



Life House Meal Preparation

In April class members Mary Hautajarvi, Jocelyn Bremer and Katie Larson rolled up their sleeves to meal prep for Life House youth center. The team along with their Steering Committee guide, Jon Otis, cooked 5 tater tot hotdishes, 1 sloppy joe, 4 Tuscan chicken pasta dishes, 4 bags of shredded beef, and 4 bags of coconut curry……..and that was just the beginning, the group conducted a second round of cooking in late May providing dozens of meals for local youth in need.





Toiletry Supply Drive

In an effort to promote random acts of kindness and give back to the community, class member Annita Winkles transformed her business into a drop off site for toiletries and personal item donations. She has asked her clients to contribute to the support of the Lincoln Park Hope Center by bringing donations to their next appointment with her. Her service project will be on-going as she feels this is the perfect fit to create happiness and well being in both her patients and the community in which she serves.




Boys & Girls Club – Tween Room Renovation

Leadership Duluth class members, Jenna Kowaleski, Danielle Tikalsky, Brent Theisen, Sarah Sorenson, Jeff Goetzman, Ryan Erickson, Chad Curran, Nate Aysta and Jeff Gasele selected the Boys and Girls Club as their service project. The team raised over $2000 in cash donations and collected donated items to renovate the Tween Room. The new look was a BIG hit with the children who utilize the space on a regular basis.




Solvay House

Class member Bailey Olson selected Solvay House for her service project following a tour of the property during the Leadership Duluth Health Care session. The end of life care facility seeks volunteers to go through training to support families as they prepare to lose a loved one. Bailey concluded the training needed and now regularly volunteers by baking snacks for the residents and families.

Age Well Arrowhead

On May 30th class members Travis Hill, Neil Sample, Michelle Fog, Ryan Hirsch, Brianna VanderHeyden, Troy Rasch, Heather Maki, and Jake Erickson assisted an Age Well Arrowhead client with landscaping, yard work, and window washing. Age Well Arrowhead is a local non-profit that focuses on supporting healthy aging and independence in older adults. The team plans to continue volunteering for the organization by assisting with the coordination of their annual fundraiser held this September.



Men as Peacemakers

Class members Nick Adams, Paul Danberg, and Dan Morrison selected Men As Peacemakers for their service project. The local organization that aims to end violence against women and children. The three men supported the organization by helping them paint the third floor of their new location.




MRC Concert Fundraiser

In May, class member Lori Melton worked with community members to host a fundraising concert benefitting the Music Resource Center. MRC is a wonderful program that offers free music and recording lessons to middle school and high school students. The evening featured music by Alan Sparhawk and art displays by Chris Monroe. Lori’s efforts created awareness and raised nearly $800 for the program through ticket sales and sponsorships.


Habitat for Humanity

On April 25th Adam Shadiow, Molly Frank, Katie Rohman, Phil Pumphrey, Zoey Hassett and Jason Hollenbach got their hands dirty with their service project for Habitat for Humanity. The group helped by staining all the base trim (roughly 40 eight-foot boards!), calked all the gaps in the exterior siding and painted the lower half of a local in-need family’s home. Congrats to this hard-working group on a job well done!



Voice of the Valley

On May 10th class members Abby Loucks, Jenna Trenberth, Lauren Schuette, Tyler Erickson, Molly Frank and Kimberly Carr organized “Voice of the Valley” a concert, silent auction and dinner benefitting Valley Youth Centers. Valley Youth Centers of Duluth is a non-profit organization that serves nearly 400 children annually. These children rely on the center for stability and connection to positive role models through homework tutoring, mentoring, leadership and recreational activities. The first ever fundraising event was an enormous success raising $5000 for the Center! Great work done for a deserving organization.

PAVSA Support

Class members Monica Bruning and Karis Boerner teamed with PAVSA in a campaign to increase sexual assault awareness.  As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, PAVSA promoted, “Start by Believing”, a global campaign aimed to transforming the way we respond to sexual assault.  When survivors are met with disbelief, they rarely report the assault to law enforcement.  This campaign encouraged all members of the community to believe a sexual assault victim if they confide in you after an assault.  PAVSA volunteers reached out to businesses, community leaders, health professionals, law enforcement, and citizens to pledge to Start by Believing.  Monica and Karis called local organizations, and met with individuals, organizations, and business to personally deliver pledge cards, answer questions, and collect signatures. Over 1,000 pledge cards were signed!

Urban Upcycling

On April 30th class members Valerie Hartel, Missy Francisco-Carlson, Megan Helena, Anna Peterson, and Karen White finalized their jewelry drive for the Urban Upcycling program through Life House. The group’s final donation amounts weighed in at nearly 170 pounds of jewelry and $1200 in monetary donations! Their efforts have allowed the youth to dive into creating items at their temporarily work site in the Damiano Center before they relocate to the fully renovated Annex space this fall. The service project team plans to keep their facebook page up to keep followers up-to-date on the goods created as well as where individuals will be able to purchase the final products.

L.E.A.D Scholarship Program

2018-2019 Leadership Duluth class members Chelsea Buck, Katie Frank, Michelle Hargrave, Kayla Hertel, Steve Knutson, Chris McCord, Tara Sieve and Betsy Hill selected the Leadership Duluth program as their service project. The like-minded team developed the L.E.A.D scholarship program (Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy and Diversity) in support of underrepresented communities to ensure the Leadership Duluth experience is rich and accessible for all. They believe cost is one factor that hinders participation. The group aims to provide two scholarships per Leadership Duluth program year. You can support their efforts by clicking here L.E.A.D Scholarship to submit a contribution. Your support will make a meaningful impact in our community by providing individuals with an equal opportunity to participate in Leadership Duluth. Please join in their efforts by making a donation today!

Leaders in the Wild

Class member Margie Nelson hosted a concert fundraiser to benefit Wildwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation at Bent Paddle on March 1, 2019. Wildwoods works to help orphaned, sick, and injured animals return to their natural lives and serves an educational resource on human and wild animal interactions. The event was a well-attended success, raising $735 to support their mission. Great work Margie!

AICHO Roof Top Gardens

“Team AICHO” worked with the staff, volunteers and children of AICHO to help reinstall their rooftop garden beds which are part of AICHO’s sustainability and cultural resiliency in indigenous communities’ program.  The team included: Jessica Betts, Rhonda Cory, Kat Gerzina, Kim Hileman, Samantha Krsiean, Jaron Larson, Daniel McLaughlin, Sarah Muller, and Jean Usack.  Also involved and our main leaders from AICHO on the project were Ivy Vainio, AICHO Climate and Cultural Resiliency Coordinator and Katie Hanson, AICHO’s Children’s Program Coordinator.  Throughout the year, they met monthly with the staff and volunteers of AICHO to help plan, design, fundraise, construct, and install the garden beds back on the AICHO rooftop.  Through their fundraiser program of “sponsor a garden bed” and working with Duluth Coffee Company selling bags of coffee, they helped raise $4,270 for the garden bed program and an additional $690 for the Hugel Bed.  June 2nd was the unveiling of the rooftop gardens during AICHO’s “Paths to Resilience Open House Celebration”.  The Leadership Duluth team enjoyed getting to know the AICHO staff and volunteers, as well as working together to create something great for our Duluth community.

Damiano Center Kid’s Kids Renovation

Leadership Duluth class members Dana Kazel, Kelly Blindauer, Scottie Gardonio, Troy Hendrickson, Dale Hoff, Jeffrey Kazel, Kate Kucinski, Kelly Lussier, Elizabeth Socha and Emily Wartman worked very hard to give the Damiano Center’s Kid’s Kitchen an extreme makeover. The Kid’s Kitchen offers nutritional meals in a safe and supervised environment for 400-500 children in poverty who come to the Damiano Center every year. The team secured donations, raised funds and recruited outside volunteers to accomplish their goal of reinventing the space with a bright new coat of paint, cabinets and new furnishings. In May the team hosted a carnival themed party to unveil the beautiful space to many excited children who utilize the area regularly. This team formed after touring the space last fall and learned about the important work it does to help at risk youth in the Duluth community. Driven by their joined passion to support area youth in need they worked together to create an enormous impact for the facility and the families that utilize their services.

Limitless Candle Sale to benefit Life House

Class members Brent Malvick, Rick Lubbers and Gage Hartman became inspired by Life House’s Legitimate Hustle Program when touring the Life House facility during the Social Challenges session last fall. The Legitimate Hustle Program gives youth an opportunity to safely earn money while learning entrepreneurial and employment skills. Life House staff guide and mentor each LHP cohort to start and operate their own social enterprise business. The first cohort founded Limitless Candles where youth make and sell bees wax candles out of their store front located on 2nd Ave. West.

Brent, Rick and Gage became motived to create awareness of this beneficial business opportunity for the youth of Life House and created, promoted and executed a candle sale held at the Boat Club on April 12th. The successful event allowed for dozens of individuals to learn of the up and coming candle business and raised over $1000 for the Legitimate Hustle Program.

Life House Annex Deconstruction

Class members Chad Ronchetti, Dante Tomassoni, Gina Keppeler, Dan Gatz, Chris Davis, Chris Wolford, and Heather Schmidt worked hard to assist Life House with the deconstruction of what is now The Annex space. The team pulled out their crow bars and hammers to transform the former liquor store into a clean slate space for Life House youth to utilize as the store front for the Legitimate Hustle Program’s Limitless Candle shop.

YWCA Girl Power Community Center Renovation

Debbie Welle-Powell, Chelsea Grandmaison, Holly Dill, Julie Rainey and Holly Mirau developed their service project in support of the YWCA’s Girl Power program. The team met regularly to organize and develop a renovation plan for the space Girl Power utilizes for their programming. They worked together to secure item donations, raise funds and shop for new furnishings.

On April 30th the team delivered car loads of exciting new items for the facility. Including art supplies, board games, cleaning supplies, décor and furniture. Then they rolled up their sleeves cleaned, organized, and restored the now fully stocked, decorated warm inviting space for participants in the program to utilize.

A Brand-New Mother’s Day

Class member Mariah McKechnie found inspiration for her service project following our tour of Safe Haven during the social challenges Leadership Duluth session. After a conversation with a friend who also wanted to do something to assist this outstanding organization, they identified Safe Haven’s most critical needs and considering the calendar, the concept for her service project became clear – Mother’s Day. Survivors of domestic abuse rarely celebrate this emotional holiday and it is a day that can be more painful than uplifting. Together she and her friend created an event titled “A Brand-New Mother’s Day” an evening celebration where the women and children of local domestic abuse shelters could be pampered, indulge and where they could feel safe and supported.  On May 13th over 60 mothers enjoyed hair and make-up services, professional family photos, delicious food, ice cream and a mini shopping spree provided by maurices.

Overall this event blew away her expectations from the generosity of her friends, colleagues and business associates to the rewarding experience volunteering at the event and seeing the joy on the women and children’s faces. The team plans to continue to offer “A Brand-New Mother’s Day” for years to come.

One Roof Housing

Class members Mary Sullivan, Rich Roxbury, Greg Ruberg, Amanda Oja, and Aaron Kelly worked with One Roof Community Housing to conduct an informational campaign. The intent was to increase the number of clients coming to their organization, which provides a number of different lending and grant programs to improve the access to and quality of housing in Duluth and surrounding communities at all income levels. On Roof Housing has access to a significant amount of capital but the activity coming in the door to access it is far below their capacity to serve the community.

The Leadership Duluth service project awareness efforts included:

  • Lunch and Learns by One Roof at their respective businesses (LHB, St. Luke’s, ALLETE/MN Power, DECC, and Duluth News Tribune)
  • Updated and printed new “rack cards” to place in area businesses and organizations that includes their target audiences
  • Selling raffle tickets and supporting the “Raise the Roof” fundraising event.
  • Offered complementary booth and support for One Roof as attendees at several Expos / Conventions at the DECC.

This team formed their project in response to the overwhelming housing shortage in the Twin Ports and the negative effect that creates in every area/industry in our community. Although their service project topic is overwhelming this group didn’t hesitate to contribute to finding ways to continue the housing shortage conversation and utilize the resources we already have in our community to create awareness.

PAVSA Care Kits

On May 23rd Leadership Duluth Class members Colleen Smith, Phil Jents, Ashley Stalvig, Josh MacInnes, Sarah Lueck, Sally Rollins and Ben Olsen delivered 135 Care Kits to PAVSA. The purpose of the kits is to aid victims/ survivors of recent sexual assault by providing them with clothing and hygiene items before they leave the hospital. The team focused their efforts during April (sexual assault awareness month) by collecting donations, raising funds and working together to assemble the vital kits for victims.  Congratulations to this group of community leaders for their outstanding teamwork which will result in helping vulnerable individuals during an incredibly difficult time in their lives.

Damiano Dining Hall Gets a New Look 

Members from Leadership Duluth’s class of 2017 Jason Hale, Diane Tobin, Dana Mattice and Phil McLoughlin  became inspired following the tour of the Damiano Center dining hall during the Human and Community services day and decided to give the room a new look for their project. The team secured donations from Diamond Vogel Paints and volunteers from Duluth Painters, Allied Trades as well as Swanson and Youngdale who transformed the room’s white walls to teal. The project ensures that those who are in need of utilizing free meals are
welcomed by the warmth of the emergency meal provider’s community space.

Finding Comfort during Difficult Times 

In April of 2016 Leadership Duluth class members; Leah Bryne, Jenna Warmuth, Julie Zaruba-Fountaine, Bradley Flynn, Jonathan Otis, Marla Halverson and Janet Fawcett delivered more than 200 comfort kits to CHUM Homeless Shelter for children and their families. Each kit comprised of a small backpack, blanket, flashlight, and game, to help the children staying at the shelter feel more at home.

Making Outdoor Activities Accessible to All

In 2017 class members Machelle Lind, Nathan Eisenbarth, Seth Matthews and Tom Rice hosted an unbelievable golf scrabble in support of Positive Energy Outdoors an organization that focuses on making outdoor activities accessible for all families. The team met regularly and spent countless hours coordinating auction items, creating fundraising games, organizing the event and securing teams and sponsorships.
All of their efforts truly payed off when they delivered a $30,000
check to the local non-profit organization.

Diving into Community Service

During the 2017 Leadership Duluth program year class members; Kaitlyn Beise, Aimee Curtis, Sarah M. Priest, Juhl Halvorson, Elizabeth Peak, Amanda Kasperson, Patrick Hughley and Ali Comnick took their service project assignment to the next level. The team crushed the expectation of completing one service project by volunteering and supporting numerous events throughout the program year. Highlights from this ambitious group’s community service include: Serving breakfast and cleaning up following the Martin Luther King Jr.parade, provided clean up and dish washing at the Nepali Dinner a benefit supporting PAVSA, packing boxes for seniors at Second Harvest Food Bank, washed windows, checked smoke detectors, changed light bulbs and painted a deck for an Age Well Arrowhead client, and attended the Day of Remembrance at the Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Memorial. This group logged over 70 hours of volunteer work throughout the Duluth community.

Turkey Drive

For the past seven years Leadership Duluth class members, have provided Thanksgiving turkeys and meal neccessities to hundreds of families who otherwise might go without. They helped  stock the shelves of the CHUM Food Shelf to ensure all families have the opportunity to give thanks and provide a meal for their loved ones.