The last of Ujamaa Place’s 10-Year Anniversary celebrations took place last week on Wednesday, December 30th.  In light of COVID-19, Ujamaa Place held its celebration and awards virtually on zoom, where community was invited to watch and engage.

Saint Paul, MN (January 5, 2021) – Saint Paul, MN (January 4, 2021) – The celebration began with a salute to the founding fathers of Ujamaa Place; Rick Heydinger, John Harrington, Bill Sands and Bill Svrluga, whose vision to start Ujamaa Place in Saint Paul planted the seeds of justice ten years ago.  “The 30-minute celebration, while maintaining COVID-19 protocol, gave our staff and Board of Directors quality time to reflect on a year that challenged our mission to serve the most marginalized men in society,” explained CEO Otis Zanders.

The pandemic really rocked the stability of the population served at Ujamaa Place. Through faith and the support of philanthropy and community partners, our organization, and more importantly, the Ujamaa Men persevered. The pandemic reminded us of the importance of community and taking care of one another,” says Zanders.

A highlight of the celebration was a performance by the Ujamaa Music Group, which was born out of the Music Therapy program, where men learn music theory and how to positively express their emotions through songwriting. You can watch the men perform their new single “On A Mission” on the virtual celebration and awards available here:

See below for an awards recap:

Founding Fathers Recognition – Rick Heydinger, John Harrington, Bill Sands and Bill Svrluga

Ujamaa Legacy Award – Commissioner John Harrington

Rick Heydinger Community Partner Award – Jane & Paul Tshida

Rick Heydinger Community Organization of the Year Award – Kathleen Fluegel/HRK Foundation

Rudy Coach of the Year Award – Darnell Baker

Ujamaa Excellence Award – Stephenson Morgan

Ujamaa Man of the Year Award – Stephan Francis

Ujamaa Man of the Month Recognition – Kevin Berry, Dalyn Doyle, Stephan Francis, Rajonta Jackson, Devon Frand, Justin Langley, Damontay Mathew, Lathen McKinney, Kavon McNeal, Devonne Tinsley, Joshua Napier, Dakai Saunders, Keonee Schaffer-Frazier, Wesley Sims, Damontay Shriver

To learn more about the programs and services available at Ujamaa Place, go to: 


 Media Contact: Monique Linder

OMG Digital Media Solutions

Telephone: 612.787.8705