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Pastor receives award for work with skateboarding community

by JEREMY WEBER
Daily Inter Lake | April 4, 2021 12:00 AM

A small group was gathered at the Woodland Skate Park in Kalispell Thursday as Love Lives Here in the Flathead Valley and the Mountain View Mennonite Church presented their 2021 Peacemaker of the Year award to the Rev. Miriam Mauritzen for her work with the Serious JuJu community skateboard ministry.

With several of her flock of young skateboarders showing off their moves in the skate park behind her, Mauritzen accepted the Mennonite-made Peace Quilt, which is presented each year to a person or organization in the valley that demonstrates the courage or perseverance to work toward a more civil, peaceful, healing and harmonious community.

“Serving Serious JuJu has been the joy of my life. I didn’t grow up knowing any skateboarders. This is not where I spent my time. This was not the noise of my life. Now, it is the symphony of my life… Every time I hear this noise now, skateboarding and clicking over sidewalks and hitting a curb, my heart races with excitement, wondering if I will recognize the kid,” Mauritzen said. “I learn from these kids all the time what it means to fall down and get back up. What it means to fall down publicly. These kids go through so many obstacles over and over and they find a way to navigate through and to not get discouraged. I so admire that. They teach me so much and they teach us all so much.”

SINCE 2007, Serious JuJu has been offering hot meals and a place to work on their skills to hundreds in the area’s young skateboarding community. Working with the program for nearly a decade, Mauritzen has helped bring a sense of worth and hope to some of the most marginalized youth in the valley. The former associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Kalispell, Mauritzen helped the group find funding to keep running in 2012 and took over as the organization’s pastor in 2019.

Along with the three events hosted each week by the group at the Woodland and Whitefish skate parks, Mauritzen also finds the time to help at the local food bank. Each week, she delivers food packages to many, including the families of several of her skateboarders, each with a personalized letter from Mauritzen inside.

“Reverend Mauritzen’s work exemplifies what peacemaking is about. Peace is elusive for many. They may not have any place that is safe. Where they will be befriended and not bullied. Where they will be supported in their struggles as well as their accomplishments. Miriam has created such a sanctuary in Serious JuJu,” Love Lives Here’s Allan McGarvey said.

Since 2014, Love Lives Here in the Flathead Valley and the Mountain View Mennonite Church have been honoring area individuals and organizations with their Peacemaker of the Year award, which puts the spotlight on those who work non-violently for change, bring people together to resolve differences, promote social justice and healing, or work toward the building of relationship and community in the Flathead Valley.

Each year’s winner is selected from nominations put forward by the public with past recipients including the Abbie Shelter, the Center for Restorative Youth Justice, B.J. and Milt Carlson, the Whitefish City Council, Will Randall, Sam and Ruth Neff and Tanya Gersh.

For more information on the Peacemaker of the Year award, visit https://www.mountainviewmennonite.org/peacemaker-of-the-year-award.

Visit https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c40ae1b7106996456e43522/t/5c40af498a4134c18bcdc3f8/1453242040027/peace_quilt_Nom_Form+2.doc to find the nomination form.

Reporter Jeremy Weber may be reached at 758-4446 or jweber@dailyinterlake.com

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Reverend Miriam Mauritzen was named the Peacemaker of the Year by Love Lives Here in the Flathead Valley and the Mountain View Mennonite Church Thursday for her work with the Serious JuJu skateboard ministry. Pictured, from left, are Tom Esch, Mary Gibson, Reverend Kirk Kestler, Allan McGarvey, Elma Giavasis, Nina Giavasis, George Giavasis, Clayton Mauritzen, Elanor Mauritzen, Reverend Miriam Mauritzen and Deloris Lynch. (Jeremy Weber/Daily Inter Lake)