We recently partnered with Maurices for their #ServiceWithStyle campaign. They asked us to chose an area mom who is selflessly serving our community while doing extraordinary things in her every day life. Maurices wanted to acknowledge great service by giving away a free styling session at their Cloquet location and a gift card to the store to buy some spring fashions.
So without further ado… meet Laura Plys! She is a single mom who lost her husband to cancer several years ago. After his death, Laura wanted to start something in her husband’s honor so she started Project Joy, a partnership with Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank that provides backpacks filled with food for underprivileged kids in the Northland area. Laura also runs a photography business and is raising her son with Down Syndrome, Jonah.
We asked Laura’s daughter, Anna, her son Jonah, and Project Joy Committee Member, Michelle Kilroy, to tell us what makes Laura their hero and their answers brought us to tears!
My mom has been given quite the road to walk. A road no one would likely choose to travel down. She has parented while raising a child born with special needs, and caring for a husband who battled brain cancer for 17 years. When my father died, she had to bury her best friend and begin traversing life as a widow. It all wasn’t her choice but what I admire about her is the way she has never dragged her feet. Instead, she has held her beautiful head high, even if her cheeks have sometimes been stained with tears. She has advocated, served, and searched out the beauty in the pain. She has taken the ashes left in the wake of my Dad’s death and miraculously bloomed a program to feed thousands of hungry children in our community through the backpack program, Project Joy, in a partnership with Second Harvest. Choosing joy was and is something that she demonstrates so gracefully. She does it as naturally as she takes a breath. And how desperately I desire to continue that same legacy with my own children. -Anna
In 1999, I was a little baby and my mom gave me the gift of happiness. She taught me to be a gentlemen. When I first saw my mom, all I could think of was how happy I was that she was mine. I’m so proud of her. She has her own business and loves me and helps feed hungry kids in our city. Mom brought joy to our family, like, “I choose joy” when my Dad was sick. It started with our family but then she gave it to the world. I still feel really excited that she is my mom and it’s all pretty amazing that she cares for me for all these years. My mom is one of my keys to be amazing. And sometimes my mom has some ups and downs, like when she lost my dad, but when I see my mom’s eyes crying I tell her, “It’s going to be okay.” When I graduate high school this year, I’ll grow up, but she’ll always be mine. -Jonah
DMB: What makes Laura a role model in her field/her community service projects?
Laura is always appreciative of all who donate and support her projects. She often shares stories about how impactful the work she supports help the community! Her work helps so many people in the Northland. -Michelle