Chum Hosts Benefit Dinner for Street Outreach Program

Emily Ness
Updated: October 17, 2019 10:30 PM

Making connections is at the heart of Chum’s mission to help the community’s most vulnerable members. The organization’s many programs have fed, housed and cared for countless individuals since it was founded in 1973. On Thursday, the organization hosted a “Making Connections” dinner with the goal of raising $50,000 for its Street Outreach Program, specifically.


“It will provide hundreds and hundreds of people with a warm touch outside, survival supplies, a path back to housing, a path to healthcare, a path to sobriety, a path to mental health treatment and we’re the point of first contact,” Lee Stewart, Executive Director of Chum said.

According to Stewart, Chum’s mission is to provide a compassionate and just environment for all. She said that although we sometimes feel compassion is lacking, it certainly isn’t in Duluth and especially not at the event.

“We invited as many people as we could. We did max out. We have over 300 people here,” Stewart said.

Those in attendance did not have to purchase a ticket for the event, which included a silent auction, a dinner, a live auction and a presentation, but rather were encouraged to make donations. A golden envelope was placed in the center of each table for guests to do so.

“We think if anyone is going hungry, we need to help and we surely should be able to do that,” Kathleen and Larry Herman said.

The Herman’s have been donating to the organization for approximately ten years.

“This evening’s program is witness to what they do,” Kathleen Herman said. “They inform us, because someone is really working hard out there to help.”

Two new programs were highlighted at the event. The first is a Warming Center, which opened last year. This is the first time Chum has had a non-shelter option for people living on the streets to access warmth. The second is the Bob Tavani respite house, where homeless individuals can stay after being discharged from the hospital. For the 150-200 homeless individuals living in Duluth, Stewart says these new additions to Chum are incredibly important.

“Homelessness is an ongoing and consistent issue. We have not been building the amount of affordable housing that we need to end homelessness and until we do that, we will have to learn how to take better care of people who are living on the streets or in the shelter,” Stewart said.

The organization’s goal of raising $50,000 at the event would cover 30% of the Street Outreach’s annual budget.

“There’s lots of special projects we have that people might want to support, specifically. For example, to operate one night of the warming facility costs about $675, so if people wanted to buy a night like that—sponsor a night, they could do that,” Stewart said.

Stewart said that people can also support Chum by volunteering at one of their facilities or helping out at one of their events.

"They do wonderful, wonderful work for the community,” Kathleen Herman said. “There isn’t anybody who works as hard at really fulfilling the needs of the people who use their services.”


Emily Ness

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