The experiences and individuals in our life, particularly at a young age, help shape and mold our future.
Brad and Brooke Shannon, who operate the non-profit North Point in Grand Marais, both have experiences from their upbringing that set them on the life-long path of investing in the young minds of tomorrow.
“I feel like I was given this gift and I want to give it back,” Brooke said.
North Point opened in 2021, shortly after the closure of the American Legion, a long-established bar on 1st Ave W. The Christian non-profit aims to develop relationships, create experiences, and provide a space for kids to feel known and heard in the community.
The day-to-day activities and programming are driven and dictated purely by the wants and needs of the kids.
“It’s all student-led. The kids tell us what programs they want or what they want the space to provide,” says Brooke.
The Shannons said creating a place in Grand Marais for kids to recreate, relax, and gather came with its challenges. Particularly following the purchase of the American Legion building and the significance it had to the veterans and the larger community.
However, one of the main factors and acceptance of change is time. Time and a little elbow grease are all the Shannons needed to create a place in Grand Marais for 8th through 12th-graders to have a space to enjoy a free lunch, hang out after school and play pool, or grab a free root beer float after a Friday night football game.
In addition to the many free meals they provide for kids, North Point offers free lunches every Wednesday to high school students. Brooke said they have 40 kids who show up weekly for a free lunch.
While the Shannons have received positive feedback from the kids who have participated in the programs or spent an hour hanging out eating pizza, they have also received positive feedback from teachers and community members.
With a strong network of coaches, teachers, parents and influential family members in Cook County, Brad and Brooke want to be an extra voice in the community for young kids to lean on and look up to.
“We want to bring hope to kids,” Brad said. “We hope we’re just one more adult who cares for them and listens, or is just present.”
“Not only are kids finding hope, but there’s a community that finds hope. Because when kids start to believe what’s true about themselves and about the world, it impacts a community. It impacts a generation,” Brad added.
As the Shannons continue to develop the programs, plan retreats, and host high school sports team dinners, they have their eyes set on the future. They envision hiring more staff and improving the programs with the help and participation of the kids.
“The need will always be greater than the resources or time you have,” Brad said. However, he added, “We’re just a small non-profit trying to be a part of the puzzle.”
In addition to being supported by individual donors, North Point partners with Treehouse, a Minnesota-based organization, to serve teens through mentorships, retreats and activities that build relationships and foster hope.
Each weekday, North Point offers drop-in opportunities or scheduled events for high school students to enjoy. Most importantly, North Point wants to be a safe space where teens can share and receive support from peers and adult leaders.
Brad said, “We know who we are. We’ve chosen to say we’re going to try and make a difference in the lives of high school kids.”