NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Meet Heidi Zaworski: The Woman behind the I Love NE Minneapolis Campaign

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Heidi Zaworski may be just one individual thread in the complex tapestry that makes up  Northeast Minneapolis  but her presence has been felt throughout  the community.

Her enthusiasm for all things NE is contagious.

“NE is a hidden jewel. There are great things happening in our area. We are so lucky.”

Heidi  is the kind of neighbor you want on your block. The Windom Park resident is a familiar face at the many community events held in NE Minneapolis.

For Heidi living in Northeast Minneapolis is something to be proud of and along with her tirelessly enthusiasm and volunteerism, she also promotes Northeast through the I love Northeast Minneapolis facebook page as well as t- tshirts and buttons that you see at many of the events  she attends in the area.

As departing director of the NE Royalty Scholarship program, Heidi has spent her 12 years shaping the program into a community outreach program. She  is one of the people responsible for making the program what it is today.   

The Northeast Minneapolis Royalty Scholarship Program is a 58 year old tradition in Minneapolis.  Queen and princesses were titles commonly used for those who went out into communities to participate in community parades and festival events.  Until the Board for the program changed the titles to Ambassadors  to promote equality and to fit in better with their roles in the community.

The goal was and continues to be for Ambassadors to represent Northeast Minneapolis and to be proud of it. In 2002 the Program became an official 501c3 Scholarship Program, one of the only Royalty programs to do this.

Heidi’s  work with the Scholarship program won her the 2009 Teresa S. Ruhland Youth Award, an award given out annually by the Minneapolis Police dept for community youth mentorship.

In the past few years, they have given back to NE area, 2000 community hours each year with collaboration from families and other youth groups.

“They are building self-confidence without even knowing they are doing it,” she said.

You will see them at 23 events each year (down from 45 in previous years because of budget cuts) and will participate in between 24-27 parades a year. The float is unique in that it has NE Churches and other area landmarks on it. The kids are able to more strongly identify where they come from.

Heidi’s  enthusiasm for the kids in the NE Royality Scholarship program as well as her own sincere love for the NE community is contagious.

She told a story about how years ago, the program raked leaves for seniors for three days.

“It isn’t the blisters but the stories that come out. That’s what you remember, ” she said.

Heidi grew up on a farm as a child but raised her own family of 6 in the Northeast Minneapolis area because her husband had such good memories of growing up here.  And after 22 years of living in NE, she can think of only good things to say about the area to anyone who will listen.  

You will most likely see Heidi involved in some way at any number of community events ranging from the Presidents’ Day Walk in the winter to the Raking for Seniors event in the fall. If she isn’t there, she’s most likely promoting it on the I Love NE Minneapolis facebook page that was started a few years back.

“We’re a small town in the big city,” she said. “We’re forgotten in time a little bit. We haven’t lost that connection that people are important.” 

Zaworksi may be at a parade out of town with her Royalty and someone will yell out,in excitement,  “northeast!;

Heidi is convinced that once you know about Northeast and get a taste of what NE is all about, it is easy to get excited about it. She gave the example of the new northeast beer that you can find outside the area.

“I love that community feeling and to give that gift to my kids. That’s the best thing in the world,” she said.

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