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Sheri Sweep of St. Paul Receives $1,000 In Seed Money
Joseph and Mike from our Eagan location rewarded Sheri Sweep of Saint Paul with $1,000 in cash this past July as part of our on-going Seed Money campaign that recognizes and rewards individuals who go above and beyond in the communities we serve.
Who is Sheri Sweep?
Sheri Sweep is a resident of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood in St. Paul who, outside of her regular job, has committed her free time to helping her neighbors in need. In 2017, after seeing a growing need for assistance in her community, Sheri started a Facebook group called “Little Hopes – A Community Group” where her neighbors could post – judgment free! – if they were in need of a little extra help throughout the year.
“It’s a group where neighbors have come together to hopefully help other neighbors that are struggling,” says Sheri. “The idea is of course that we’ll improve our community.”
While the group operates with the help of group member donations and volunteers throughout the Hamline-Midway community, Sheri can be credited for the coordination of all Little Hopes efforts.
What Makes Sheri Sweep So Deserving of Seed Money?
As the group has grown to over 700 members, it’s no surprise that Sheri was nominated four times for our Seed Money campaign. Here are a few snippets as to why Sheri is deserving of the first of our (more than 10!) Seed Money rewards, in each of her nominators’ own words:
“Sheri started Little Hopes to help others and has since continued to help the community with food, necessities, holidays, pet supplies and vet bills, vehicle repair, rent…” says neighbor and nominator Leisa Pelkey. “She works a regular job and still manages to help so many others.”
Nominator Lori VandeWiele told us, “Sheri helps so many community members. She even has a group within the Little Hopes group where members send each other cards for inspiration or ‘just because’ so people who can not go out can still feel connected.”
“The community is a better place because of Sheri – she goes above and beyond. Little Hopes is simply the most amazing group and I admire her love for helping others,” says nominator Cheryl Ferguson who is also a community friend and Little Hopes group member.
And lastly, Little Hopes volunteer Celeste Henly stated, “Sheri gives EVERYTHING: herself, her family, and her home. She listens. She makes things happen to ensure that needs are met.”
Each nomination we received for Sheri added even more to the list of ways she gives back to her community than the one before it, and when we met Sheri, it was clear that she was indeed deserving of a little Seed Money.
Where Did We Surprise Sheri Sweep?
With the help of nominators Celeste Henley, Leisa Pelkey, and Leisa’s two kids (and fellow Little Hopes volunteers) Elijah and Keircylyna, Eagan Market President Joseph Marinac and Branch Manager Mike Leinonen were able to surprise Sheri while she was setting up for a garage sale in her driveway – a garage sale which happens to be the main fundraising event for Little Hopes each year.
We let Sheri know that we heard a lot about her and everything she does for the community thanks to those who nominated her and handed her $1,000 in cash.
“Wow! Thank you so much – it is very appreciated,” exclaimed a surprised Sheri. “[What we do] takes a lot to put on, but these people make it all possible,” she continued as she introduced us to all the volunteers there helping her with the garage sale set up, before giving us an interview to learn more about her and her passion for helping others.
Why is Giving Back to the Community So Important?
“You really aren’t aware of how people are struggling right next door. My idea was to set up a group where people could [ask for help], judgment free,” Sheri told us. “Our focus is stabilizing families so that they don’t overspend on holidays, birthdays, or anything they may become in jeopardy of losing their housing. Little Hopes keeps expanding because I don’t think that help should be limited.”
In order to meet the needs of her neighbors, Sheri ensures the Little Hopes group assists local families in need with anything from food to necessities. They offer holiday food/gift and back to school clothing/supply drives, as well as monthly “Hope Runs” where families sign up for available donated items – which can vary each month from toilet paper to food to diapers – all coordinated by Sheri and packed up/delivered by Little Hopes volunteers, who feel just as strongly about giving back each month to help families get the essentials they need.
For example: “When they have Hope Runs, we help pack up bags and help with donations,” Leisa’s son Elijah Pelkey told us. Nominator Celeste Henly also shared that she volunteers as a driver for the Hope Runs.
Sheri also facilitates their “I Need Help” program where, if there’s an isolated need – such as an elderly neighbor needing a new air conditioner or a neighbor in need of help with an unexpected vet bill – a request can be submitted and Sheri will share with the group in an attempt to raise funds for them.
It’s important to Sheri to be able to help with these types of things as they are “those unexpected expenses that can really just drown a family.”
How Can You Help Little Hopes Community Group?
If you want to help Sheri give back with Little Hopes, she says the best way to help is to join the Facebook group.
“Anyone can join, the furthest member I know of that we have is from Singapore,” Sheri said. “So we accept members from all over.”
Even if you’re not in the St. Paul area, you can still donate money and/or supplies to the group.
And Sheri will always encourage anyone, “If you can volunteer, volunteer.”
Seed Money was created to help recognize and reward individuals who go above and beyond in their communities. To help recognize Sheri and the work that she does, we documented her surprise receipt of Seed Money on video, which you can view on our YouTube channel (along with our other Seed Money recipient videos!) to hear more from Sheri and her nominators.
Our Seed Money campaign is part of Home Federal’s Community Roots Initiative where our mission is to “Give Today to Help Grow Tomorrow” and, after meeting Sheri, we already know that she plans to put the money towards Little Hopes, as the $1,000 can help pay for storage of supplies for a full year.
The best part about giving back to the local unsung heroes in the communities we serve is how passionate our Home Federal team members are about the campaign.
“Hearing Sheri’s story about Little Hopes was just awesome,” shared Mike Leinonen after Sheri’s interview. “It’s important to showcase those in our communities that are giving back as much as Sheri is, so that others can be inspired to do the same.”
Being Sheri was our first recipient of Seed Money, it was nice to hear a little extra reinforcement for our Seed Money campaign from Faith Dietz, a friend of Sheri’s who was helping set up the garage sale that day. She said to us, “Thank you to Home Federal for setting up Seed Money for community outreach. It’s very important to not only be connected to organizations in your community, but also actually connecting with the people.” And while we still will continue to support our local non-profits, highlighting individuals like Sheri has been our main goal of this campaign.
“People like Sheri are what keeps the communities alive,” says Joseph Marinac. “At Home Federal, we feel it’s really important to be out in the communities and support all the hard work these people do. Seed Money is our way of giving recognition to the un-sung heroes in our communities and thank them for their selfless efforts.”
To Sheri, and all those who help with Little Hopes, we thank you for all you do to help others.
See our other Seed Money stories and how we’re giving back by visiting our Seed Money page.