Silver Bay teen earns accolades for volunteeringRecently, Alexis Jacobson, a high school senior for whom Silver Bay has always been home, has received a service award, in part because of her help in gathering the stories of those first residents of her city.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
In the 1950s, Silver Bay was a settlement that sprung up around Reserve Mining Company. Its residents worked hard to make the little community their home.
Recently, Alexis Jacobson, a high school senior for whom Silver Bay has always been home, has received a service award, in part because of her help in gathering the stories of those first residents of her city.
“She…is always looking for something to do,” said Kent Kaiser, Jacobson’s uncle, so he nominated her to attend the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership camp in Minneapolis in 2011. Ever since, she’s been passionate about volunteering.
Jacobson received the President’s Volunteer Service Award after she completed 100 hours of volunteer work.
“I think we should all be giving back to our communities so that one day we can have someone give back to us,” Jacobson said.
Many of Jacobson’s hours were logged in a meeting room in Silver Bay with a digital recorder, pen and pad of paper. Kaiser, a professor of communication at Northwestern College in St. Paul, had undertaken the ambitious project of interviewing about 60 of Silver Bay’s first residents and compiling the candid conversations into a book-form oral history of the city. He chose three WKHS students, Jacobson, Brett Mensing and Sabrina Jacobson to assist in the project.
Kaiser began by applying for grants to fund the project and ultimately received over $7000 from the Minnesota Historical Society. Shortly thereafter, work began to record the stories.
“It was great to hear the old stories...and how much this town has changed over the years...because those aren’t things we’ve been exposed to,” Jacobson said.
They recorded all the interviews and had them transcribed. Then Kaiser organized the text around a series of topics. The end result: a book that reads like an ongoing conversation about Silver Bay from 1950 to 1980.
“It’s an easy read because it’s conversational. Everyone learns something from it,” Kaiser said.
The book is available at the Silver Bay Public Library, the Bay Area Historical Society and WKHS. All proceeds from the book go to the school.
Jacobson didn’t stop volunteering after the book project ended. She found numerous other opportunities in her hometown and elsewhere. She cleaned highway ditches, worked the lights for theater and music productions, served at shelters in Duluth and helped host the Lake Superior Salmon Classic and the Title One Parents Night in Silver Bay, to name a few.
After she graduates this spring, Jacobson wants to go to college and get a degree in nursing.
She’s following in the footsteps of those before her, Kaiser explained. As a third generation Silver Bay resident, she was raised with the same go-getter attitude that brought people to the company town over 6 decades ago.
“People still have that spirit of having to work together to build a town. All of our parents had come from somewhere else. They really instilled in everybody…the importance of getting an education,” he said.