At the age of 11, many kids are at the awkward age of puberty and entering middle school, trying to figure out the ins and outs of the world around them. However, some rise above and beyond the normal concerns of prepubescent life and end up giving back to others in the process.
For Corinne Hindes and Katrine Kirseborn, helping out a homeless man dressed in just a T-shirt and jeans on a cold winter day was the biggest concern on their minds when they were 11. Hinds and Kirseborn are both avid ski racers and combined their interests in skiing and their concern for the homeless to create Warm Winters, a non-profit organization that helps to keep the homeless warm during the winter.
When it is not winter, the organization still helps out by creating personal care packages to distribute. Since the creation of the organization in 2011, more than 10,000 articles of warm clothing have been given to the homeless.
The work of these two young girls, now 15 years old, has not gone unnoticed. This year, the girls were honored with the MTV High School Trailblazer Award. HelloFlo had the unique opportunity to interview both founders and learn what it means to make an impact in the homeless community and how this work has touched their lives.
What was the inspiration to start Warm Winters?
Corrine Hindes: We were inspired to start Warm Winters when we became aware of the vast amount of homelessness in our community and realized that they really didn’t have anything to keep them warm and protect them from the weather in the winter. Katrine and I continue to be inspired by helping as many people as we can.
At what point did you decide it was time to expand? How did you go about the expansion?
Katrine Kirseborn: After we won an award in 2013 for our work, we decided we weren’t really doing enough to tackle the issue of lack of clothing in other areas. At an event we went to later that year, Hillary Schafer, who runs the Jefferson Awards Foundation, approached us to discuss expansion.
This inspired us to sign up for the Jefferson Awards Globechangers Leadership Training Program, a program designed to help teens like us take their philanthropy projects national. Through this training program, we received mentors who guided us through the expansion process. We still receive lots of guidance, as needed, from our mentors.
What does it mean to you to be young girls in the non-profit circuit?
KK: Being young girls in the non-profit circuit has taught Corinne and I how much we can really influence kids our age. When people view teenage girls, they see the stereotyped people that we’re set up to be. Being in this whole world of non-profits really allows us to see how much women are capable of and more importantly how much teenagers are capable of. We want to be able to inspire other teenage girls to do the same.
HF: What advice would you give to girls/women who wish to begin a non-profit organization?
CH: I would tell them that they are powerful. You are beautiful, strong, and powerful, and you can change the world. Keep yourself motivated, keep yourself inspired, and keep going because eventually, you will get to where you want to be. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t make a difference or achieve your dreams because you can and you will as long as you keep yourself focused and moving forward. Be the person you want to see in mirror when you wake up every morning. Nothing can hold you back.
What is one piece of advice that has been given to you that you value to this day?
KK: One piece of advice that I have always valued was given to me by my clothing design teacher. She said, “Nothing is too difficult for you, even if I need to help you or someone else does; all it means is that you’re still learning and you have a long way to go ahead of you to do what you want to do.” [This quote] showed me that I have lots of time to find my purpose and learn to love it.
CH: A few years ago, an incredible musician and my private music teacher, Mary Fettig, told me that you can never work too hard to get where you want to be. Her words motivate me every day, and they really open my eyes to the possibilities and opportunities around me. She made me realize that I can do anything as long as I put in the effort needed to get there.
Both Katrine and Corinne show that anything is possible. They have put great work into their organization Warm Winters and are only growing and getting better from here.