By Barbie Porter


CornerStone has a challenge for all youth from birth to the age of 18.

Photo by Barbie Porter
CornerStone director Tracy Neusser (from left) teamed up with youth leaders Hope Hamm, Liam Hamm, Faith Hamm, Zoey Rousu and (not pictured) Brea Paurus and Evie Seim. The students were the inaugural steering committee for the first CornerStone initiative.

While the building is under renovation for the  youth center and bistro, CornerStone Director Tracy Neusser is taking direction from a few student leaders to bring the “Summer Survivor:  Kindness is Kool” program to the area.

Zoey Rousu was joined by Faith Hamm and her siblings, Hope and Liam, Brea Paurus and Evie Seim as part of the events steering committee. Together they created the theme for the program, challenges that will be presented on a weekly basis and determined what the prizes would be.

“We picked kindness because there is never enough kindness in the world,” said Faith Hamm. 

She saw first hand the impact of kindness. Kids that she helped teach how to swim, drew her pictures and wrote kind words.

Rousu said she also knows the power of kindness. While interning at a dance studio and helping younger girls improve their skills, she was presented with a T-shirt and thanked her for her help. She said being on the receiving end of a kind act helped her grow more self-confident.

The program gives area youth the opportunity to empower others through kindness and a little encouragement with the challenges they arranged.

Those in the age range of 0-10 will have two challenges to complete and those who are ages 11-18 will have four. Each challenge completed counts toward a grand total point number. Those with the most points at the end of the challenge can win cash prizes.  

The cash prizes were donated by the Detroit Lakes Breakfast Rotary. The group of do-gooders gifted CornerStone funds for prizes, which will be:

For those 11 and older, the first place grand prize is  $175; second place is $125 and third, $100.

For those 10 and younger the first place prize is $35 and second place is $25.

Faith Hamm said a lot of research and brainstorming went into creating the challenges. 

Kicking off the “Summer Survivor:  Kindness is Kool” challenge is the first opportunity to do good deeds and get entered for the cash prize. The first challenge starts July 25. A few ways to earn points are to:

• Cut out 10 hearts and put them on 10 cars to earn 20 points.

• Sweep someone’s sidewalk for 15 points.

• Hold the door open for a stranger for five points.

• Smile at 25 people to earn 10 points.

• Pick up litter to earn 10 points.

For those who join the fun, a sheet of paper with  the challenges will be available at some area businesses, Neusser said. Kids can grab a sheet to help track their good deeds. She said  there will also be collection points  where the completed sheets can be turned in.  

“We will also have sheets on our Facebook page (Frazee Community and Youth project) or they could email me ( and I can email them one back,” Neusser said.  

Rousu said this was her first time working with CornerStone on a program. She joined the effort because being kind is something she is passionate about. She appreciated the opportunity to be part of the inaugural CornerStone youth steering committee. 

Neusser said new steering committees will be put in place for new programs, and area youth can join committees at anytime. 

All members of the youth steering committee shared the experience provided them with leadership skills and they have enjoyed creating the fun summer opportunity for youth in the Frazee-Vergas School District.

Rousu said she enjoyed helping to create the program and built stronger friendships with the other students on the committee. 

Hope Hamm said she also enjoyed the company of those on the committee and appreciated how they were the ones making decisions about how the kindness campaign would be presented and ran.

Faith Hamm also enjoyed the leadership role they were given as well as the opportunity to do something for their community.

Liam Hamm said his favorite part of the steering committee experience was meeting new people.