Making a Difference: Deb Holman

By KBJR News 1

January 23, 2014 Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 11:25 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- As the temperatures plummet, concern rises for the homeless in the Northland.

One Duluth woman is tireless when it comes to bringing the poor in from the cold. People who know her say Deb Holman works non-stop to make a difference for people hiding in plain sight.

Recovering addict and community organizer, Kevin Johnson has been homeless for a year, but soon he'll have a home.

Thanks in part to Deb Holman, a street outreach worker for Churches United in Ministry, or CHUM and the Human Development Center's Homeless Project.

"She puts in 110% effort on everything I see here," says Johnson."At all hours of the night, holidays don't matter."

The Chum Center in Duluth offers a place to warm up, pick up food or simply enjoy a game of chess.

But, Deb Holman worries about those who won't make it through the door this winter.

"I've had 4 people with cases of frost bite and I know two for sure are going to lose toes."

18 years ago Holman volunteered with a needle exchange program serving shelters in the Twin Cities. The Cloquet native has been working on behalf of the homeless ever since.

Most days she's out visiting makeshift camps and hiding spots, looking for people who have fallen off the grid.

"We just want to make that first connection," says Holman. "We need to start building relationships with people that are hiding out there because that's how you get them in."

With the help of tips to the 24 hour Outreach Hotline, Holman and her team work tirelessly to make that connection. The goal is to shelter first, and then provide services.

"I think we do save lives sometimes, but I think the community plays a part too."

Holman is quick to deflect praise for her efforts. She credits the many organizations that have given her the opportunity to do her job.

"I feel like I have the best job in Duluth. I feel very fortunate that I get to do what I get to do."

On any given night it's estimated that up to 200 people are homeless in Duluth. Thanks to the efforts of Deb Holman and her team, there will soon be one less soul struggling to survive in the cold.

"She made a difference in my life," says Johnson. "And if you change one person's life, what's that worth?"

Deb Holman, making a difference in the Northland and beyond.

Michelle Lee