When Corinne Hindes was 11, she saw a man in her hometown of Walnut Creek wearing nothing but a T-shirt and a pair of ripped jeans on the coldest day of the year. She had started to notice the homeless people in her area that year, but seeing this man enduring the cold without warm clothes stuck with her.
She was also pretty sure she knew how to help.
Hindes, now 16, had been an avid skier since her parents taught her the sport at the age of 4. She was a member of the ski team at Kirkwood Mountain Resort near Lake Tahoe, and she had noticed that high-quality parkas, gloves and cold weather gear routinely sat in the resort’s lost and found, left behind by tourists unlikely to return and claim them. She and a fellow ski team member, Katrine Kirsebom, asked if they could donate the items to the homeless; thus, Warm Winters, a nonprofit that engages youth volunteers and ski resorts in 12 states to donate their lost-and-found items to the homeless, was born.
Now Hindes has been recognized with a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award for her work and commitment to social change. She’s one of 14 young social entrepreneurs this year from across the country to receive the award, which has been recognizing Jewish teens for their leadership in solving social problems for a decade.
“No one really thinks about what they leave in ski resorts,” said Hindes, who built Warm Winters with the help and support of her mother, Laurie Hindes. “Part of the reason I chose to take the clothes from the ski resorts is because of that privilege that comes with the opportunity to ski. It’s really nice clothes and gear.”
A number of Tahoe-area ski resorts participate in Warm Winters, including Alpine Meadows, Donner Ski Ranch, Heavenly, Homewood, Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Tahoe Donner and, of course, Kirkwood, where Hindes is now a ski team coach. Warm Winters brings the warm clothes it collects to homeless shelters, but teen volunteers also distribute them directly on the street in San Francisco and other cities.
“Their faces light up in this way that I don’t think they have in years. You see this hope that I don’t think has been there for a long time,” Hindes said.
As a Diller Teen Award recipient, Hindes will receive $36,000 that she will use for her college education. The awards are bestowed by the San Francisco-based Helen Diller Family Foundation. The program has distributed more than $3 million to 84 teens since 2007.
“We are so proud of all the awards recipients,” said Jackie Safier, daughter of the late philanthropist Helen Diller and president of the foundation. “Each of them has demonstrated leadership, commitment and a passion for making positive changes throughout the world.”
Hindes, now entering her senior year of high school, wants to study social innovation and entrepreneurship in college. She says Warm Winters will keep going even as she moves forward with her education.
“We’re working right now to train our volunteers to take on larger roles as I graduate and go on to college,” Hindes said. “We’ll see if we can go global and create change.”