Janalee Jodouin is the Executive Director/Operations Manager for the Red Lake Area Emergency Shelter (RLAES), a place that provides the homeless with a place to sleep and eat breakfast and dinner. The shelter runs off of volunteers and donations, and a major part of Jodouin’s responsibility is to keep the volunteers and donations coming in so the homeless are looked after.

Her job isn’t an easy one. The shelter has struggled to stay open because of funding issues, and Jodouin has relied on fundraising events and community involvement to keep the doors of RLAES open. The community of Red Lake is a small one, making it more difficult to find donors than it would be in a big city.

Fortunately, Jodouin has had a great deal of success finding donors by sheer determination and hard work. One of Jodouin’s missions was to keep RLAES open year-round. In the past, it was closed from July until October or November. This wasn’t because no one needed shelter in these months, but was because of a lack of funding. However, fundraiser success and donations allowed the shelter to stay open for all of 2015, and the same is expected for 2016.

Jodouin fought for the people who don’t have anyone in their corner, and it’s made a difference. RLAES  has not only persisted but also grown, and offers a safe haven for many. Check out our interview with the amazing woman behind RLAES in our interview with Janalee Jodouin:

This blog is called ‘Awesome People’, what makes you awesome?

This is always a difficult question to answer about oneself. What makes me awesome? Diversity, humility, and perhaps acceptance are the few attributes that come to mind when having to describe myself.

What is the best compliment you have ever received?

“You’re a great Mom” (From my children)

What is the best criticism that you have ever received?

“You’re a workaholic”; although in my opinion, this is a type of backhanded compliment. I am proud to have been raised with strong work ethic and have raised my children to be the same way.

We are all changing and evolving all the time.  How are you in the process of changing?

As I get older (which seems to be quicker each year!), things that used to matter so much are not as important as they used to be. My children are leaving home, my life is
changing every single day, and I am embracing those changes instead of fearing them as I once did. Growth as a person is hard some days.

Our slogan/mantra at WT is Define Your Normal.  So, what is your definition of normal?

I honestly do not know if there is such a thing as ‘normal’ in my world. (Or anyone’s?!) Normal for me is to keep fighting for what I believe to be right and true. Normal for me is to be a good, decent person and teach those who want to listen (including my children), through action.

What makes you feel…

PROUD – My children, my husband – every single day

ANGRY – Same as above! (Haha)…But really – Injustice

EXCITED – Days off!

SCARED – Failure

LUCKY – All the amazing people I have in my life!

CONFLICTED – Giving people too many chances

EMPOWERED – My children. How did I possibly raise these amazing souls?

HOPEFUL – One of the chances people give me will result in success

SAD – People that have no hope

STRONG – My children and husband, all of the amazing people in my life, and the opportunities for success that I’m given

This or That?

Nature or Nurture? Nurture – they don’t call me ‘Momma Bear’ for no reason! 

Freeway or Scenic Route? Scenic. I live in the epitome of ‘scenic’.

Huge group of friends or a few close friends? Would rather have one loonie than a hundred pennies!

Adventure trip or relaxing vacation? Relaxing. Always.

Workout your body or your mind? My mind tires me enough!

Sports or the Arts? Can give or take both!

Traditions or Change? I am traditional at heart but can also be nomadic! (Strange, I know!) I like change…gradual change!



My Grandmothers. My ‘Babcia’ (Grandma in Polish) is 91 this year and she has always been the toughest lady I have ever known. She was a nurse in WWII and always took care of everyone in the neighborhood. My other Grandma, we lost 10 years ago and
she was the sweetest, kindest, most gentle soul but a fighter. So much respect and love
for both of these ladies!


I cannot think of anyone specific.


Someone who could make a difference.


My Grandmothers


If my nerves could handle it, I would love to debate with our new PM! I find that he talks in
circles and would love to force him into answering my questions!

What is your favorite WT product?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the purse that was donated!! So sad that I did not win it!

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or your project?

Since coming into this type of work environment, my entire view on homelessness, mental health, and addictions has completely changed. We always think we know, but we really do not. I encourage people to reach out, volunteer, say hello, shake a hand, buy a meal, and just be kind. It will amaze you how much your outlook will change.





If you liked this article, check out our

Hope for the Homeless Collection:

Street Youth - Men's Zipper Hoodie