Saturday, January 10, 2009


Thursday, January 22nd., from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1710 East Superior Street, Duluth, MN will host its third annual free community health fair. Booths will offer free testing for blood pressure, blood sugar, bone density, and other services. There will be free healthy foods served from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., samples, goodie bags, door prizes and information will be available, and there will be childrens’ activities. Enter on Grey Solon Road.

All are welcome and everything is free.

For further information: Sue Van Oss 218 724 3535 suevanoss AT


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

MLK Day events, Jan. 19

7:00 a.m. registration and free breakfast, “Coppertop” Church,
7:15 a.m. local program
8:00 a.m. large screen broadcast, Colin Powell’s speech
11:00 a.m. march from Washington Center to rally, Lake Ave. between 3rd & 4th St.
11:45 a.m. Rally, DECC
More events and information

Men’s group taps MLK legacy

By Michael Kooi
You’ve seen them ringing bells for the Salvation Army. Raising money to stop the genocide in Darfur. And maybe even introducing a llama to kids in a park.

They are young men of color, and thanks in part to the efforts of Duluth’s African-American Men’s Group, they are developing into the community’s next generation of leaders.
“These are creative and exciting young people,” says AAMG President Carl Crawford. “We need to create a support network for them. It’s our obligation as men to accept that challenge…and reclaim the roles we need to play in our community.”

For the members of the men’s group, this means acting as visible role models in the community, sharing experiences as mentors and demonstrating the value of making smart choices in life.
Since its inception in 1992, the AAMG has done this in a number of ways. To emphasize the value of education as a pathway out of poverty, the group has created a college scholarship in honor of Allen Butler, Duluth’s first African- American police officer. AAMG also provides gifts each year to minority high school graduates as part of a celebration that both recognizes their achievement in graduating but also encourages them to continue on to college or vocational schools.

As important as this financial support can be, the group’s most significant contribution may come through the personal time that members dedicate to mentoring teens and putting them in touch with the world beyond their neighborhoods. Each summer, for example, AAMG members take kids from Neighborhood Youth Services on a fishing trip in honor of Howard Taylor, a late member of the group.

“Some of these kids grew up next to Lake Superior, but they’ve never been on a boat,” marvels Samie McCurley, AAMG’s founder. “It’s just a joy for us to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they catch a fish. That’s what lets me know I did the right thing in starting the group.”
According to Kelly Looby, program coordinator at NYS, this personal interaction with positive role models makes the kids feel like they “fit in and belong [in this community].” In fact, two former participants in the annual trip, Don Morris and Jamal Winters, have gone on to earn jobs at NYS.

It also helps to bridge the generation gap and form lasting connections for future success. “We have to interact with [these kids] and feed off of each other,” Crawford explains. He says it’s the only way that his generation can understand the challenges facing kids today.
Forming such connections is one of the primary goals of the African-American Student Alliance at Woodland Hills, which founder Cal Harris says was inspired by the AAMG. Harris, a senior youth treatment specialist at Woodland, brings his group to sit in on AAMG meetings periodically.

For AASA members Jesus, Edward and Danny (whose last names have been omitted to protect their privacy as minors), the African-American Men’s Group breaks down negative stereotypes. Interacting with AAMG members gives them the courage to be active in the community by raising money for charitable causes and sharing their experiences with young children. “It keeps us motivated,” says Edward.

A legacy of courage and caring
In their cultivation of tomorrow’s leaders of color, the members of the AAMG draw from the lessons and legacies provided by their own role models. Perhaps nowhere is this connection more explicit than in the group’s contributions to Duluth’s annual MLK Holiday Community Breakfast. The event brings the community together to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to work toward fulfilling his vision of building a just and interconnected society.
Each year, AAMG members participate by rolling up their sleeves to cook and serve the event’s namesake meal.

“They feed a significant amount of people on a low budget,” explained Doug Bowen-Bailey, one of the event’s organizers and owner of Digiterp Communications. “It’s a big benefit to the community.”

In addition to the free breakfast, the event also provides people from all walks of life with the opportunity to sit down with each other and discuss the issues they face, as well as those shared by the community.

This year’s MLK breakfast will take place on Jan. 19, 2009 at First United Methodist Church, located at 230 W. Skyline Pkwy in Duluth. Breakfast service begins at 7 a.m.

Community Action Duluth: Help with taxes

One hour of your time can help put $2000 in the pocket of a low-income family
Community Action Duluth is now recruiting volunteers to file tax returns for low-income families from January – April 2009.

“We are looking for volunteers who are interested in helping people, networking with other professionals and making a difference in their own community,” said Angie Miller, Executive Director at Community Action Duluth. “No prior professional tax experience is necessary,” Miller said. “Volunteers receive free tax training and are assisted at all times by experienced tax preparers and a reviewer.” Volunteers who serve as screeners, greeters and assistants are also needed. These volunteers do not prepare taxes, however, they are crucial to the overall service provided. To request an application or for more information, call 726-1665 or visit the website

During the 2008 tax-filing season, a total of 60 Community Action Duluth volunteers prepared over 1200 federal and state income tax returns for households with an average income of $13,500. The average refund was $1,500 and the cumulative value of refunds secured by volunteers was over $2 million dollars in refunds. “That’s $2 million dollars returned to people who really need it,” Miller said. In addition, the two Community Action tax sites provided free savings accounts, instant refund loans, screening for benefits and free credit reports.