Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse(CASDA)/ Hampton Inn Canal Park

Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse (CASDA)

The Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse is celebrating its 30th year of service in 2018. Their mission is “To provide supportive services to individuals hurt by domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse while advocating for a community effort to end violence.” While their mission statement is simple, there is nothing simple about how the mission is carried out. They are many things to many people. The skills of their staff are as varied as the needs of their clients, and their resourcefulness to meet the needs of the community knows no bounds.

When clients come to them for help, they have a strong network of staff to assist them in any way possible. Their services include a 24-hour help-line, Peer Counseling, Support Groups, Emergency Shelter, Children’s Program, Legal Services, Community education, Volunteer Program and Rural Outreach.

What that means for Joanne Sanders, the Shelter Program Coordinator, is that she could be driving a client to an interview, assisting in their search for housing or just lending a compassionate ear. She is always ready for anything! It is clear that each individual has a unique situation, and CASDA aims to assist the “whole” of the person, from client support groups to legal assistance to child care.

They are great at finding and organizing community resources, working in cooperation with other non-profits to assist their clients, and working with area business for fundraising and in-kind donations. As an emergency shelter, they need lots of supplies and are blessed with a community that holds donation drives for towels, blankets and more. In addition, they hold their own drives several times a year. In the past, they have sent letters out to local hotels during their drives. They once received a generous donation of used towels from the AmericInn. That donation has lasted for quite a while, and they’ve only recently found the need to restock.They were joyful to hear about the HOHP through the Head of the Lakes United Way. It gave them a feeling that their outreach to the hotels had planted a seed that others had finally helped grow.

They were partnered with the Hampton Inn, who they were already familiar with from past donations. In 2017, CASDA’s shelter housed 149 women and 86 children. Each of the shelter’s rooms has at least two beds in it, and the shelter also contains a kitchen and four shared bathrooms, so they have plenty of need for the Hampton Inn’s bedding and towels. In fact, some of their greatest needs are for bedding and household items.

You will never see anyone get as excited about a trash can donation as Jill and Joanne!

Besides bedding basics, the ladies at CASDA were surprisingly excited about the shower curtains and trash cans the Hampton Inn donated. When clients are able to move on from the shelter into a new apartment, they are essentially starting from scratch. With not even a plate to eat on, they must focus more on needs than wants. While shower curtains and trash cans aren’t glamorous, they are very necessary for living, and CASDA is grateful for even such simple things.

A former client shared: “Most people don’t know how hard it is to get your life back after being in an abusive relationship.  The physical pain heals much faster than the emotional and mental pain.  It has taken me years to overcome the situation I was in.  CASDA provided me with the tools I needed right when I needed them.  It wasn’t a ‘one and done’ place.  I still call there when I need advice on something that is a residual effect from the abuse we suffered.  They are always there and always willing to help.”

Shower curtains are almost as exciting as trash cans! These ladies love their jobs!

One of their challenges when it comes to accepting donations is CASDA’s limited storage space. For example, they can’t store large quantities of mattresses for the future. Thankfully, the HOHP has an online community for partners where special offers of furniture can be posted. Hopefully, knowing what will be available and when can help alleviate some of that problem.

Jill Hinners, the Community Engagement Coordinator, says “The more people who understand what we do and its importance, and understand that yes, abuse does happen here and we need to talk about it openly, the more effective we can all be at advocating for a community effort to end violence.”

A 2017 client shared this story: “You guys saved my life. If I hadn’t been able to be here, if you hadn’t helped me, I’d be back to the only person who would have me. I would be hurt, trafficked and pumped full of drugs. Thank you for caring that I live.”

Most people can’t even picture the obstacles that must be overcome to reclaim your life and start over. Simple things, like not having a birth certificate can make a new start seem insurmountable. The future can sure appear brighter when you leave for your new life with a fresh set of bedding, towels and other essentials. CASDA staff are motivated by the thankful stories of their clients, some who even come back to them as volunteers to help others and “pay it forward”.

Hampton Inn Canal Park

CASDA already has lots of amenities to put in the care packages they compile.

The Hampton Inn in Canal Park was a perfect match for CASDA, which needed a good source for bedding and furnishings but didn’t have a desperate need for bottled amenities. That’s because the Hampton Inn belongs to the Hilton hotel chain, which is one of several in the world that participate in the Clean the World program. The Hampton Inn collects all their bar soap, used shampoos and conditioners and sends them to this non-profit organization, which then “delivers these recycled products and donations to domestic homeless shelters and impoverished countries suffering from high death rates due to acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease.” Clean the World places an emphasis on corporate responsibility for their participants as a part of being sustainable. For more information on all that they do, you can check out this link:

Clean The World

As you can imagine, it took no convincing for the Hampton Inn to jump onboard with the HOHP. While they send their personal care amenities to Clean the World, the Hilton company takes a sustainable approach to their business, from waste reduction, responsible sourcing, to water and energy use reduction. As a result, the staff at the Hampton Inn are enthusiastic about repurposing anything they can to keep it out of landfills.

In the past, they had donated various items to their HOHP partner, CASDA, on various occasions. Chelle, the Director of Group Sales lived near them and could drop items off on her way home. Sometimes the hotel would also give furniture to Goodwill. It was difficult when they had used furniture available, to find someone who could accept it. As mentioned above, non-profits, such as CASDA generally don’t have a lot of storage space and so the timing must be just right. The partner online forum will be a great use to them for that reason.

Chelle explained how well hospitality items are repurposed at the Hampton Inn. Some items are very gently used, perhaps a towel has a tiny spot that makes the hotel unable to use it again. These items are designated for CASDA. Chelle will even take the time to put bedding sets together and label them according to size. So each set will have a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and pillowcase to go with it. It takes a little time to get it all together, but she knows it makes it easier for the non-profit. If there are towels that are way too dirtied and stained, the hotel will use those for their own cleaning purposes. There is rarely anything that goes into the waste stream.

The Hampton Inn is excited to be able to give back to the community through the HOHP. Chelle guesses that there were non-profits out there that were not aware of the opportunities for gently used items available through hotels, and believes it’s making a difference for the community.



Holiday Inn Downtown/Union Gospel Mission

Union Gospel Mission

Susan Jordahl-Bubacz,ED Union Gospel Mission
Susan Jordahl-Bubacz, Executive Director of Union Gospel Mission

The Union Gospel Mission was founded in 1922 and is the oldest soup kitchen north of the Twin Cities. They were established through the partnership of several area churches with the mission to provide food, shelter and hope to local residents. They are more than just a soup kitchen, however. Besides providing meals seven days a week, they have blanket and coat giveaways, a selection of warm clothing during the winter, and personal hygiene products. They host various holiday events for the community, whether it’s a traditional holiday meal, or toys and Santa for Christmas. They also have a small amount of transitional housing on the second floor.

Susan Jordahl-Bubacz, Executive Director, is an inspiring lady who speaks often of human dignity. She and the rest of the staff certainly witness firsthand the struggles people experience, the roadblocks they encounter, the biases they fight, and the reality their clients sometimes need to accept.

Providing “Basic human dignity” as Susan puts it, is the best way to describe what they do. To many people, a meal, a shower and a safe space are just things we take for granted. Imagine not even knowing when your next shower will come. Imagine being un-showered, with no change of clothing. Imagine people caring so little about you that they won’t even look you in the eye. How do you hold down a job when you can’t even take a shower?

And yet, “the people with the least are the most generous”. Susan explains, “They understand the true value of things.”

Amongst what could be overwhelming sadness, are the “small miracles” Susan explains. A man came in with frostbitten feet, in desperate need of warm shoes but needed an uncommon size. That very day a woman was compelled to donate her late husband’s belongings that she’d been resisting letting go of. Amidst the donations, a pair of unused Sorel’s of the exact size they were looking for.  There was the chaotic day when her van driver called in sick, and as she was trying to deal with the repercussions, (finding someone to fill in or letting businesses know that food couldn’t be picked up as scheduled) she got a call from a grocery store, that had three cakes to donate, if she could pick them up. Despite her driver issues, she was dismayed as she heard herself agreeing to come and pick them up. She brought the cakes back to the mission and stuck them in the fridge. Later that day a man, clearly struggling to deal with his emotions, came to them in search of help. His elderly mother was dying, and it was her birthday. He wondered if they had some cake mix so he could make her a birthday cake. Susan went to the fridge, and among the cakes she’d picked up, was one that was beautifully decorated with flowers and read “Happy Birthday Mom”.

When you hear these stories, you can’t help but have hope and belief in the mission of their organization. Was it a small miracle or just coincidence when the Union Gospel Mission found the Heart of Hospitality Project? They had provided a large bottle of shampoo to one of their clients, only to have her get attacked for it. She was beaten up badly, over shampoo. Apparently, on the street, an item like this is highly valued and difficult to hide. Smaller bottles, on the other hand, can be hidden easily in a pocket. Thus, the staff decided to reach out to a hotel in hopes of getting some smaller bottles donated. They chose to call the LaQuinta Inn figuring that a hotel up the hill would get less of this type of solicitation. Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect as Cara, the founder of The Heart of Hospitality, told them about the program they had just launched.

Holiday Inn Amenities for Donation
Three boxes of this size (500 bottles) and a couple smaller ones filled with bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, were almost gone in two weeks. That’s close to 2000 bottles!

The Union Gospel Mission was quickly partnered with the Holiday Inn Downtown, and the hotel almost immediately provided six boxes of amenities, just to start. The mission placed them in a drawer in their lobby, limiting each person to no more than three per day. Those three little bottles were greatly appreciated by those that have nothing, wonder when their next shower might come and see no end in sight. “Sometimes,” Susan said, “hope can come in the smallest packages.” As I was speaking to Susan shortly after receiving the items, she informed me that they were almost all gone. Six boxes…almost all gone in a matter of weeks.

Holiday Inn Downtown

The Holiday Inn in Downtown Duluth is happy to be a partner with the Union Gospel Mission. Lindsey Lindberg, the Executive Housekeeper, had heard hotels outside of Duluth with donation programs but knew there weren’t any in Duluth. She is proud to oversee facilitating the Heart of Hospitality Program for their hotel. It was pretty simple to implement, she explained to me. All they needed were some well-labeled cardboard boxes for collecting and separating the items as housekeeping does their daily routine. Granted there was some getting used to the slight change in the new routine, but separating the items quickly became a habit.

They started collecting used bottles of amenities in December of 2017. By February 2018 they had 6 large boxes ready for a home. Lindsey has heard Susan’s story about shampoo being a hot commodity, and she and her staff feel better about being able to help others instead of tossing things into the waste stream.

Hotels have high standards. They want guests’ experience to be perfect and flawless. The Holiday Inn has a regular turnover of sheets. Even the slightest, tiniest stain makes a sheet unacceptable for further use. In the past, these might be tossed. Sometimes staff would personally collect them and donate them to a local nonprofit. Lately, things have been different. Through the Heart of Hospitality Program, they donated approximately 500 sheets to Goodwill! Lindsey estimated that they end up with 60-80 sheets each month that don’t meet company standards. They will even be replacing pillows throughout the hotel soon. These items will now find “happy homes” through the HOHP.

Lindsey Lindberg, Executive Housekeeper, Holiday Inn Downtown
Lindsey Lindberg, Executive Housekeeper at the Holiday Inn Downtown. A tiny box on the housekeeping cart and some small changing of habits are all they needed to facilitate the gathering of used amenities.

In fact, the HOHP has made Lindsey’s staff more aware of other things that the hotel might be able to donate. They noticed that people purchase larger bottles of shampoo in their convenience shop and leave those behind. Those bottles are added to the boxes of regular items. They come across items all the time, like lampshades, and think “Should these go in the dumpster, or can someone use these?” Just a minimal effort on their part is certainly having a significant impact on the Union Gospel Mission.


Coming Soon

At our Meet and Match meeting in January, where each hotel was introduced to their partner agency, there was lots of energy! Agencies had amazing stories about the people they were assisting and the many needs that they had. We learned some things, like how hotels may have other donations available on a random basis. It was clear that there would be a lot of collaboration, as there was so much excitement on both sides of the partnerships. We will follow up as the year goes by with spotlights on some of the amazing things that happen. Please sign up for our blog so that you can get updates when we post the stories!