The Northern Cross
The board of directors for Together for Life Northland in September announced the hiring of Mary Schmitz as program director for its Star of the North Maternity Home, effective Sept. 3.
Schmitz has had many years of experience working with young women and girls, officials said. Upon entering college, she knew that her mission in life was to make positive changes in others’ lives. Graduating from college, one of her first professional jobs was working in a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescents.
She has also worked as a teacher and coach, a program director and swim coach for people with physical disabilities and hearing and vision impairments, a marketing and development director for a medical facility, a Catholic school development director, and a missionary for more than five years in the Diocese of Kingstown (the sister diocese of the Diocese of Duluth in St. Vincent and the Grenadines). During her tenure in St. Vincent, Schmitz was in charge of Bread of Life, a home for children who were affected by AIDS or who had experienced other trauma in their lives. She also began and directed a home for abandoned and abused teenage girls, where she also lived.
Upon her return from mission work, Schmitz became the development director for CHUM in Duluth. She has spent the last 13 years helping the homeless by raising funds through direct mail appeals, engaging with major donors, running special events, and managing communications, marketing, and volunteer efforts.
Schmitz said she was moved by the Holy Spirit at the age of 7 when a second grade Benedictine sister talked about her own mission experience. “I have carried that with me my entire life, constantly looking for ways to meet that desire,” Schmitz said.
Recently she was considering moving back to the Caribbean upon retirement to work again with children without families and homes. That was not plausible as she continues to support her own adult daughters and grandson. She says the opportunity to join the team at Star of the North Maternity Home was exactly where the Holy Spirit was calling her. “If we listen the answer comes,” she said.
“We are pleased to welcome Mary to our Star of the North Maternity Home, as we know she will lead our unique Christian residential facility and program forward to assist women experiencing housing instability and pregnancy to self-sufficiency while promoting healthy relationships, education, and positive parenting in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin,” said Dr. Sue McClernon, Together for Life’s board chair.