Gearing up for another year of service

One year ago, Welcome Jerde and her family set out on a year-long goal of organizing a community service project once a month to benefit different nonprofits in the Twin Cities.

When President Barack Obama called for a national day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, she reached out to friends and family and asked them to drop off items for YouthLink, a Downtown-based organization that serves homeless and at-risk youth, at her home in Lynnhurst. She was overwhelmed by the response.

Eighty-five people filled her porch and home with nearly 100 bags of supplies for the organization — everything from clothing to diapers. Someone even dropped off a fancy stroller and a full-size microwave.

Jerde isn’t content to leave the work of 2009 behind. She’s teamed up with friends Kathy Coskran and Meredith Young to organize another year of monthly community outreach projects.

The group has a new name — Service Works. The tagline is “Changing the world, one month a time.”

They have a presence on Facebook and plan to have a calendar with events planned two to three months out. Their mission statement is “to build and encourage a community of friends, neighbors and strangers with a monthly challenge and opportunity to serve those in need and celebrate our collective capacity to make a difference.”

Once again they started out by collecting items for YouthLink on Jan. 23. “I really have a soft spot in my heart for teens that are precariously housed,” Jerde said. “There are just a lot of kids out there that are invisible.”

They are planning a service project at the Linden Hills Park building, 43rd & Xerxes, on Feb. 27 for the Little Brothers of the Elderly. It will run 12:15–2 p.m.

In March, they will organize an event to benefit the Simpson Shelter, focusing on the women’s side of the shelter.  

The goal this year is to expand the number of volunteers involved in their outreach efforts and keep it easy and inexpensive for people to get involved. They also want to focus on more kid-friendly service projects.

 “One of my main objectives is to have individuals know and kids know that they can do something positive and make a difference,” Jerde said. “In essence, we as individuals are very rich in a non-monetary sense and we can become even richer by giving away time or our own things by serving other people.”

To date, Welcome and her cohorts have about 100 people on their mailing list. They’d like to expand the list by a couple hundred.

Coskran, one of the Service Works leaders, said she became aware of organizations she didn’t know existed.  

Besides Youthlink, they adopted families for the holidays, buying gifts and grocery store gift cards for them, and collected items for the Youth Cultural Exchange, a program of First Universalist Church of Minneapolis. They also brought produce to area food shelves and did a massive cleanup day at Cedar Lake Park, among many other projects. Another project encouraged everyone to eat at a restaurant owned by new immigrants.

Young, another Service Works leader, is passionate about getting more families involved. She lives in Linden Hills and is the mother of three young children.  

“We helped the elderly to the very young — to even pets. I loved the variety,” she said. “It wasn’t one cause, but it was helping everybody.”

To get involved and stay informed about upcoming service projects, contact Jerde at WelcomeJerde10@gmail.com.

(Note: This story has been revised to correct Jerde’s e-mail address).