The University Honors Student Association (UHSA) is hosting a chili cook-off at the Steve O’Neil Apartments, a 44-unit permanent housing community and emergency family shelter, located at 115 W. 4th Street. The event is scheduled on Friday, April 15th from 4:30–6 p.m.
UHSA has a long-term commitment to work with the children that live in the Steve O’Neil Apartments. The students’ involvement started in the fall of 2014 when they raised $20,000 to furnish the bathrooms in the apartments. Last spring they began working with the kids, all of whom had experienced homelessness.
By fall 2015, the UHSA took on a bigger commitment. Six days a week, for at least a few hours a day, one or more of the honors students volunteer with the children at the apartments.
The sessions with the children are described as relaxed and fun. The UHSA students help with homework, cooking classes, and other activities.
“I come to the Steve O’Neil Apartments to spend time with the kids,” says Katie Moret, president of the UHSA. “When we started, we thought we were the ones who would do the giving, but it turns out the kids give us so much.”
The UHSA students get assistance and training from Lee Stuart, the executive director of CHUM, a non-profit group that helps provide basic necessities for people in Duluth and Christy Gould, Children's Program Director of the Steve O'Neil Apartments.
Reflecting on the partnership with UHSA, Stuart says he’s looking forward to its continuation. “We are so pleased with the honors association and really applaud Katie’s leadership.”
Moret says the Chili Cook Off is a way of saying goodbye for the summer. “We didn’t want the school year to just fizzle out and have the college students suddenly disappear. It’s also a ‘thank you’ to them for letting us into their lives."
The UHSA will continue working with the kids living in the Steve O’Neil Apartments next fall.
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