The Edina Service Organization (ESO) is a group that brings parents and high school students together to complete service and volunteer projects in the area. Sarah Knapp, one of the co-founders, along with her three friends Kari Mawn, Kathy Nelson and Alyssa Hammar came together as fellow mothers who wanted to instill in their 11 total children the importance of volunteering and giving to others, while making an impact on the whole community.
Mawn came up with the idea after she moved with her family from Texas to Minnesota and wanted to find different organizations and events she could volunteer for with her children. In Texas there was a website that gave her an idea of where volunteers were needed and made signing up quick and easy. Mawn could not seem to find something similar in Edina, so she set out to create ESO with the help of friends.
“As adults, we need to teach our children the importance of sharing our resources, time and talents,” Knapp says. “As a mom to three teenagers, I know how few opportunities there are to spend quality time with our teenagers. The ESO provides opportunities for kids to volunteer independently, but also to volunteer together with their parent.”
ESO aims to bring families together while simultaneously giving back to those in need. The service is for students in grades 8–12 and their parents to find opportunities to volunteer together. Teen-friendly service opportunities are continuously uploaded to ESO’s website, and there is also a place where members can record and track service hours. Members can access this information through an email newsletter, on the website and in a handy mobile app, which is perfect for the busy lives of high school teens.
“ESO is a fantastic way to involve our kids by providing many wide-ranging opportunities for them to get involved,” Nelsen says.
Although ESO is relatively new, beginning in August 2018, its focus is mainly on growing membership and compiling a large collection of activities, events and service opportunities to ensure that there is always something for volunteers to do. The founders are still working on forming partnerships with organizations in the area, but they have already successfully partnered with Meals on Wheels, the YMCA for its Halloween and Christmas events, Edina Senior Services, Second Harvest Food Bank as well as Kids Club and Wise Guys after school programs. So it’s off to a strong and promising start while promoting good work in the community. The organization partners with the Edina Community Foundation which is a 501c3 nonprofit.
“Our top priority right now is setting up a strong foundation of student members and families,” Knapp says.
There are currently around 100 volunteers in ESO’s member system. The website and mobile app has already enabled members to volunteer and start working with the community to improve the lives of those living in Edina.
“ESO is the perfect blend of giving back to our community, spending time serving alongside our teens and partnering with an amazing group of ladies,” Hammar says.