AveNEWS July 2017
More than 300 homeless youth find safety and support at Avenues every year! To help homeless youth move from surviving to thriving, please donate.   

Help Wanted: Are You Handy?
Avenues is hiring a part-time 
Maintenance Technician and seeking volunteers to maintain Brooklyn Avenues and Minneapolis Avenues. Duties include light maintenance, wall and window repair, painting, grounds inspection, furniture repair, some plumbing work.

Click on the link above to apply for a part-time position as our Maintenance Technician.

If you are handy and interested in volunteering, please email Craig Freeman  or call 612-844-2005.

Other positions at Avenues:
Marketing & Communications Intern 
Youth Support Specialist 
Executive Director Search Update
We reported to you recently that Deborah Loon has announced her intention to step down from the Executive Director position she has held at Avenues over 9 years.

Deb remains in the Executive Director role while the Board of Directors conducts its search for her replacement. The Board has retained Ballinger I Leafblad to manage a thorough search for the new leader of the organization.  Click here for the announcement posted on our website. 

The search is expected to take 3 to 4 months, with an anticipated transition in November 2017. All inquiries about the position should go to Marcia Ballinger.
Upcoming Events
Upcoming Dream Tours 
Attend a one hour Dream Tour, and we'll answer your questions about youth homelessness while touring one of our three facilities. An Avenues' youth may co-lead the tour, depending on availability.  Individuals and groups are welcome to attend. All tours are 5:30 -6:30 pm.
August 9: Brooklyn Avenues
September 6: Minneapolis Avenues
October 4: Queer Avenues 

Dream tours are by appointment only. Contact Craig Freeman to schedule your tour 612-844-2005 or by email

On August 7, The Lowbrow is donating 10% of sales to Avenues' host home programs. Stop in for a great meal and learn more about our programs! We'll be there 5-9 pm. 

Interested in learning more about hosting a youth? Join us for a community information session about the Minneapolis and Suburban Host Home Program on Sept. 5 at 6-7 pm. Click here for more details. 

Avenues' host home programs recruit, screen and train adult volunteers who are willing to share their home with a young person experiencing homelessness. Individuals, couples and families are welcome to apply. Avenues staff provides training and ongoing support for youth and hosts in the program. 

Our program managers describe hosting as a "messy and magical" experience for both youth and hosts. The young people who participate get basic needs met and a genuine connection to adults who share their homes and lives -- vitally important for a successful launch to young adulthood! For hosts, this is a powerful way to foster hope, healing, self-determination, leadership and change in young people. 

Host homes literally change lives and build community. Attend the information session to learn more. 

Join us at Powderhorn Park on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 1-5 pm for a community celebration honoring the 20th anniversary of the GLBT Host Home Program! Register here.
This Month 

Girl Scout Troop #17697 gave Minneapolis Avenues rain barrels to collect water from our roof gutters for our garden. Thank you! 
Thanks to our friend Joe Deschler , Minneapolis Avenues' youth enjoyed a fun day at Nickelodeon Universe! Joe provided unlimited ride passes for the youth. Thank you! 

Avenues received 250 Snack Packs assembled by  Hands On Twin Cities Lakes and Legions Volunteers. Thanks for the nutritious snacks and inspirational cards! 

Thank you Prudential for hosting an in-kind donation drive for Avenues! Prudential employees gathered essentials like hygiene products and wash clothes - filling two giant bins! 

Thank you Amita Prakash, Joseph Thompson and Raychelle Cole from Best Vendors Management for working on Minneapolis Avenues' yard - we appreciate it! 
Wish List
We've updated our wish lists with our current needs.  Click here for a printable list. S hop locally and deliver to Avenues. Please contact Craig Freeman to schedule your delivery ahead. Or shop online at  Amazon , Target and Walmart

Avenues makes in-kind donation drives easy: if your organization wants to hold a drive, we will supply donation bins and marketing materials. Our staff can even drop off and pick up the bins and supplies, if needed.
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Avenues for Homeless Youth
Administrative Offices:

1708 Oak Park Ave North
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411
Dear Friends:

Every single day -- 365 days a year -- Avenues' staff and volunteers walk alongside our youth. We help them address challenges and set goals for their future. We support them through their struggles and celebrate progress toward their goals. 

Long-term safety, stability and the opportunity to thrive are our overall goals for Avenues' youth. We often say we help homeless youth move "from surviving the streets to thriving young adults." 

The recipe to do that takes many ingredients and people -- shelter, all basic needs, guidance from caring adults, nursing and mental health support, education and employment support, life skills training, transition planning, after-care support and more. 

How do we measure progress and outcomes? We do it youth-by-youth. The goals youth set for themselves become our goals. 

Please celebrate with us these recent achievements:
  • 5 youth moved out of host homes during July and into their own apartments. 
  • 4 youth moved from our shelters during July and into stable living arrangements -- 2 to live with family / kin and 2 into their own apartments.  
  • 5 young families have moved out of county family shelters and into their own apartments through Avenues for Young Families in the last few months. Two more have signed leases and are moving in soon. 
These are extraordinary achievements by our youth, staff and hosts! Your financial support of Avenues makes it all possible. Thank you.

Deborah Loon
Executive Director 
Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the GLBT Host Home Program 

Sharon Byers and Matt Halley, 1997, served on the committee that founded the GLBT Host Home Program.

Join us for a community-wide celebration on September 16 to honor the 20th anniversary of the GLBT Host Home Program! The celebration is 1-5 pm at Powderhorn Park.  Avenues has reserved the picnic area next to to the recreation center and the gym (in case it rains). 

Enjoy tasty BBQ (catered by Cafe Southside), play some yard games and watch or participate in karaoke! The celebration is free and open to all who have supported, participated in, or just like the GLBT Host Home Program. We hope to see current and past youth and hosts there! 

Thank you, Target and Arise Project of the Greater Twin Cities United Way for sponsoring our celebration!

Do you have picutures for videos documenting the GLBT Host Home Program?   Please share here!  The GLBT Host Home Program is featuring weekly throwback Thursdays on its Facebook Page .
What We're Reading 

Jason Sole , PhD, led a cultural competency training at our July all-staff meeting. Jason is Professor of Criminal Justice at  Hamline University , author of "From Prison to PhD: A Memoir of Hope, Resilience, and Second Chances," and current President of the Minneapolis Chapter of the  NAACP . Thank you for sharing your inspirational story and wisdom with us, Jason.

About the book:   "From Prison to PhD: A Memoir of Hope, Resilience, and Second Chances is the inspirational autobiography of Jason Marque Sole, a former drug dealer, leader of a notorious street gang, and a three-time convicted felon who completely turned his life around...  Jason Sole is living proof that one can overcome the difficulties of poverty, gang membership, and violence."
In the Words of Our Youth
With permission, we share with you a reflection written by a youth at our Minneapolis Avenues shelter. We hope it inspires you as much as it inspires us.

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats." - Albert Schweitzer

Growing up, I had the privilege of having both escapes. However, I was more so drawn to the ivory keys of the piano rather than the cat.

Growing up, I would poke at the keys to try and drown out the sound of my family's arguing. I would play a game with myself where I would make up a song on the spot. Over time, the game became reality. I started writing short pieces that I was proud of. I hadn't really learned any music theory or taken lessons, but if it sounded nice, it was good enough for me. I eventually started figuring out music theory on my own. What was it that made certain things sound good?

By the time I was in middle school I had signed up for choir since I was always passionate about singing. This was the first time I was exposed to an acoustic wooded piano. I was able to experiment with the pedals and what they functioned for. It was this experience that enticed me further.

I suddenly found myself spending hours listening to classical music, but I remember most vividly falling in love with the work of Raul D. Blasio. I also found myself inspired by pop-artists who would play piano. I wanted to be one of them so I spent my high school days honing my craft, and to this day I still polish and refine my art.

Music to me serves as my preferred method of self-expression. To press my fingers against that black and white canvas adds the most vivid of colors into my world. Music is a universal language, and I can share my vision with the world. Music is more than just pretty sounds, and pretty words. Music is a tool, a powerful tool through which I firmly believe we can make ourselves, and the world, a better place.

"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before." - Leonard Bernstein. 
Landlords Needed 

Just BEing Corner
Avenues' staff has created an internal committee through which we are challenging ourselves to promote anti-oppressive practices and be a truly just agency. The "Just BEing Committee" examines the effects of systemic racism on the youth utilizing our programs. The majority of youth who experience homelessness are youth of color whose families have faced racial disparities and barriers, and who often must navigate services and systems run by white people. Because of this, we know conversations about race and systems of oppression, must be at the center of any work being done to combat homelessness.
The Just BEing Committee recently hosted a showing for Avenues staff of Ava DuVernay's moving documentary, "13th." This documentary, available on Netflix, starts with the Thirteenth Amendment, then makes the case that slavery has not been abolished. Instead, it highlights the successive measures undertaken by political authorities to disempower African Americans over the last three centuries.
We encourage you to watch this documentary and reflect on your own understanding of the "mythology of black criminality," as Jelani Cobb calls it at one point in the film. "13th" compels viewers to sit upright, pay attention, and interrogate words in their most naked form as they're analyzed and unpacked by DuVernay's subjects. Sometimes the film confronts words in seemingly contradictory pairs: person/property, slave/freed person, labor force/prison workers. At other times, it wrestles with policies and practices that target black Americans: truth in sentencing, war on drugs, tough on crime, law and order, minor crimes.
The mission of the Just BEing Committee is to transform the culture of Avenues through creating and sustaining anti-oppressive practices that challenge ourselves, our agency, our communities, and our systems to be understanding, whole, equitable, and Just.

Calling All Restaurants: Help Us Nourish Dreams

In honor of National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month (November), Avenues is asking restaurants to participate in our 2nd annual Nourishing Dreams Fundraiser. To participate, restaurants will donate 10% or more of their breakfast, lunch or dinner sales on November 8, 2017. Avenues will promote participating restaurants on our social media, newsletter and any media outreach. Read about last year's event in a Sun Post article here.

All donations made will support one of Avenues' biggest costs: FOOD. Between Avenues' two shelters, we serve about 35,000 meals a year, and spend almost $100,000. 

Thank you Cuppa Java, Herbivorous Butcher and Mama Donato's for already signing up for 2017 Nourishing Dreams! 
For more information or to sign up, please contact Rachel Blair 
612-844-2001 or by email