HOPE 4 Youth ENews | September 2016
A Letter From Our Executive Director: Suicide and Youth Homelessness  

The suicide of one of my neighbor girls, Christa, is the sole reason I got into working with at-risk teens. Christa was like a daughter to me and a sister to my children. She was raised by her father and lived just two doors away. Often, I would help her dad put on her birthday parties and even helped with her graduation open house. Shortly after, Christa went off to start college at the University of Minnesota and was so excited.

In November of her freshman year, Christa hung herself in her dorm room because the young man she was dating had cheated on her. I will never forget the phone call I received in the middle of the night and I have no recollection of driving alone to Hennepin County Medical Center to be by her side. I believe Christa could have survived this break-up if she had better coping skills. She certainly had others surrounding her who would have helped her out of this darkness she was experiencing. But we never had the chance. I think of her often. Sadly, I have been to more funerals like hers since then. And they never get any easier.

Suicidal thoughts among young people today are so common that I have found myself almost numb to it when one of our young people tell me they are having them. In the '80s and '90s, America's suicide trend was headed in the right direction: down. It had been decreasing steadily for many years, until the past few years. While other causes of death among young people are on the decline, suicide keeps climbing. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 15-24. One group stands out in those statistics - girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Suicide does not just happen. Studies show that at least 90% of teens who kill themselves have some type of mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, or a behavior problem. They may also have problems at school or with friends or family, or a combination of all these things. Some teens may have been victims of sexual or physical abuse.

Most teens do not spend a long time planning to kill themselves. They may have thought about it or tried it in the past but only decide to do it after an event that produces feelings of failure or loss, such as getting in trouble, having an argument, breaking up with a partner, or receiving a bad grade on a test. Or becoming homeless. A UC Berkeley study of homeless youth living on the streets of San Francisco found that they have a 10 times higher mortality rate than their peers, mostly due to suicide and substance abuse. This population is highly stigmatized. That stigma leads to neglect and, in turn, to increased mortality. 

You might be wondering why I am sharing this with you. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and we here at HOPE 4 Youth work hard to get our young people the help they need when they are thinking about suicide. Recently, we called an ambulance when one of our young men came early and was sitting on our front steps, distraught and saying he "couldn't live like this anymore". He wanted to end his life. That was two weeks ago, and just today our doorbell rang early at HOPE 4 Youth. There he was, alive and in need of our services. So while we know we don't have many options just yet to house all of the young people we serve, we are proud of the work we do with them for the five hours each day we are open. And we couldn't do that work without the support of you and this entire community. Thank you!

In This Issue

A Letter From Our Executive Director: Suicide and Youth Homelessness

HOPE Place Transitional Housing Update

Development Update: Pohlad Family Foundation Matching Grant


Drop-In Center Program Highlights

Program Corner: Youth Success Stories

Volunteer Spotlight: Pam Harer

Community Partner Spotlight: Chain of Lakes Church

Community Partners

Upcoming Events

Events Wrap-Up

How HOPE 4 Youth Helps

HOPE 4 Youth Needs: Donate Items

HOPE 4 Youth In the News


Board of Directors

HOPE Place Transitional Housing Update

HOPE Place is beginning to look like a home! The sheet rock has gone up and we are starting to see what HOPE Place will look like when it is complete. We are on track to bring the first 12 homeless young people "home" by Thanksgiving, but there is still much more work to be done.

While construction continues, our Director of Programs & Properties, Sara Kemp, has been working behind the scenes with our HOPE Place day-to-day partner YouthLink to create policies and procedures for HOPE Place as well as finalize the programming that will allow the youth to become independent, healthy, housed adults.

We still need more financial support to complete the construction and have just received word that the Pohlad Family Foundation has provided a challenge grant – with support up to a total of $100,000 on new contributions for construction of HOPE Place. Your gift today will be DOUBLED!   

Development Update: Pohlad Family Foundation Matching Grant

Do you want to help HOPE Place house the first 12 young people by Thanksgiving? Would you like to have your gift doubled? The Pohlad Family Foundation has provided a challenge to all of you – with support up to a total of $100,000 on new contributions toward the construction of HOPE Place! 

If you are part of a civic group (Rotary, Lions, Elks, Jaycees, Women of Today, etc.), a congregation, a school team, group, class or entire school, a business, or even a family that wants to support young people experiencing homelessness, let us know. We can speak at your meeting and/or have you to the Drop-In Center a tour. 

Another idea is for kids and adults to give up birthday gifts and have the people in their lives donate The HOME Depot gift cards to HOPE Place or money in honor of them. A donation of $500 would be doubled to $1,000 -thanks to the grant - and you would have your name included on the Founder's Circle in the HOPE Place Foyer.

The more we can share the need with the community, the sooner we will receive the entire $100,000 match from the Pohlad Family Foundation. 

For more information or to make arrangements, contact Lisa Jacobson, Executive Director, at ljacobson@hope4youthmn.org or call 763.323.2066, ext. 107.

Last Call: Purchase your tickets for the GALA 4 HOPE!

The GALA 4 HOPE is an annual fundraiser benefiting HOPE 4 Youth that helps with "Building Tomorrows" for young people experiencing homelessness and those who are at-risk of becoming homeless. 

WHEN: Sat., Oct. 8; Social 5:30 p.m./Dinner 7 p.m.

WHERE: Marriott Northwest – Northland Ballroom in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

REGISTER: Online at HOPE4YouthMN.org/GALA or contact the GALA Committee at 763.232.2940 or sendebre@gmail.com.

Questions? Contact Brenda Senden, GALA Committee Co-Chair, sendebre@gmail.com or 763.232.2940.

Don’t miss the chance to win former Governor Arne Carlson’s 2004 Cadillac DeVille DHS – 79,000 miles! There will only be 1,000 tickets sold – $20 per ticket – and the winning ticket will be drawn at the GALA. You do not need to be in attendance to win. To purchase your ticket, contact Lisa Jacobson at ljacobson@hope4youthmn.org or 763.323.2066, ext. 107. 

Drop-In Center Program Highlights
  • The month of September brought several new providers to the Drop-In Center. Anoka Technical College spoke to the youth about two-year college programs. They took time to answer questions about the first steps that they need to take to become a college student including enrolling and financial aid. Anoka-Hennepin Technical High School also made their first visit to the Drop-In Center. The High School is unique in that it offers young people who are ages 18-21 an opportunity to earn a High School diploma as well as college credits. The youth were excited about this opportunity and asked many questions about how they could complete their diploma. We look forward to both schools being back on a monthly basis!

  • YAP - Youth Aids Project - has now become a weekly provider at HOPE 4 Youth. YAP provides education on sexually transmitted diseases and prevention. Several youth have scheduled individual sessions with them, as well. YAP has committed to coming to the Drop-In Center on days that they are not scheduled, if the youth need them.

  • The October Drop-In Center Program Calendar is complete. Learn more about the programming that we offer the young people that we serve here.

Program Corner: Youth Success Stories
  • A transgender youth that we serve came into the Drop-In Center a few weeks ago talking about how scared they were to transition and not knowing how their parents were going to handle it. They really needed someone to listen to and support them. Our case manager referred them to the Minnesota Transgender Alliance group that meets here in Anoka every other Saturday night.

    The case manager followed up with the young person to see if they were attending the meetings and they stated that they had not gone in because they were too nervous. Our case manager reached out to one of the founders and the founder connected with the youth to make sure that they were more comfortable. After this, the youth decided to go into the meeting and now plans to continue doing so.
  • Recently, a 17 year-old client was kicked out of her family home. She found herself with no home or support and ended up moving in with friends in Coon Rapids. After finding HOPE 4 Youth, she is now enrolled in school to finish her high school diploma and working part time at Denny's so she can move from homeless to housed.

Volunteer Spotlight: Pam Harer

Pam Harer has been a volunteer with HOPE 4 Youth since last November as a mentor and in February of this year she became a Lead Mentor. She can't believe it's been almost a year since she joined the HOPE 4 Youth team. 

She first became involved with HOPE when she attended an orientation meeting. "I had absolutely no clue HOPE existed or what it entailed," she said. "Once I learned more, I was hooked. It might be the mama instinct in me, but HOPE tugged at my heart and I knew I had to be here!"

"Pam always goes beyond what is expected of her as a volunteer," said Cheri Halek, Community Engagement Manager. "Whether she is volunteering at the Drop-In Center or at special events, participating in fundraising events like the 4K, or hosting a donation drive at her workplace or in her neighborhood, Pam is always thinking about the youth we serve and how she can help make a difference in their lives." 

Pam believes that HOPE 4 Youth is the missing piece in the young people's lives that has helped them finish school, get a job, find housing, help with basic needs and more. She adds, "Most importantly we are their friends, we are their safe place, the people they can always count on!"

Pam would like to share the following with the youth, "To the youth, thank you for letting me be a part of your lives! Thanks for the laughs, the fun and the daily entertainment! I'm so proud of all of you, and I can't wait to see you all leave this place for a bigger journey and succeed at all of your dreams!"

Community Partner Spotlight: Chain of Lakes Church
Chain of Lakes Church  has been a community partner with HOPE 4 Youth for almost two years. They are fully committed to ending youth homelessness in Anoka County and have been working hard with us to do so. Whether it is through awareness events, donation drives, or fundraising events, their priority is supporting young people experiencing homelessness.

Have you heard about their Espresso Yourself that benefits HOPE 4 Youth? Espresso Yourself is a concert series that features local musicians -  this month featuring Corey Medina & Brothers – arts and high quality espresso! Last year's Espresso Yourself raised more than $4,100. The next Espresso Yourself will be on October 29 at 7 p.m. 

In August, they spent a day bagging groceries at a local Cub Foods and raised more than $1,800. They have also hosted a block party and carnival that have raised funds for general operating of the Drop-In Center and construction of HOPE Place. They were also one of the first churches to take part in the Wall of Hope to raise funds for HOPE Place.

You might be wondering about the cute "house" box that is pictured above. This box is being used to collect items for the store at HOPE Place. Chain of Lakes has committed to partially stocking the store so the young people who call HOPE Place home have the opportunity to "purchase" items that they need.

We are thankful to have Chain of Lakes Church as our partner and for all the effort they put into helping the young people that we serve leave their title of homelessness in the past so they can see a brighter future.
Community Partners
St. Joseph's of the Lakes Catholic Church raised $3,500 by taking part in the Wall of HOPE, a HOPE Place Capital Campaign event. Is your church, business or civic group looking for an easy way to help bring the first 12 young people home to HOPE Place? You can do so by holding your own Wall of Hope.
Upcoming Events

  • The Darkest Night of Your Life 4K
    Sept. 30 at 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.; participants choose their wave.
    Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids
    The 4K is a run/walk benefiting HOPE 4 Youth. 

    Oct. 8 at 5:30 p.m.
    Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park
    The Gala 4 HOPE is an annual fundraiser benefiting HOPE 4 Youth. To purchase a ticket, sponsor a table and/or make a donation, contact the GALA Committee at 763.232.2940 or complete online registration.

  • Scavenger Hunt
    Oct. 15, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
    Downtown Anoka (South of Main St. and East of Hwy. 169) 
    Anoka DeMolay and Bethel #48, Job’s Daughters of Anoka are hosting the 3rd Annual Food Drive Scavenger Hunt through Anoka. Collectively over the last two years, the young men and women of these collected over 1,400 pounds of food. This year they hope to match that and have chosen to collect the food for HOPE 4 Youth!

  • Espresso Yourself
    Oct. 29, 7-9 p.m.
    Chain of Lakes Church (10130 Davenport St. Ne #160 in Blaine)
    Espresso Yourself is a concert series in the north metro benefiting homeless youth. It is an evening of local music – this month featuring Corey Medina & Brothers – arts and high quality espresso! As if great entertainment and coffee isn’t enough, Espresso Yourself is taking on the issue of homeless youth in Anoka County.

For more information on upcoming events hosted by HOPE 4 Youth, benefiting HOPE 4 Youth or bringing awareness to HOPE 4 Youth, click here.

Event Wrap-Up
  We partnered with  Beef O'Brady's  in Andover this month for Swine Fest in the Street. Swine Fest was a rib tasting contest that raised more than $1,300 for us. Thank you to all the  resident competitors who donated their time,  resources & all the food to make it a successful day! 
The Anoka County Sheriff's Office held an “Open House” for people to see their Sheriff’s Office and the diverse services provided to the citizens of Anoka County. There were demonstrations, displays, and opportunities to interact with public safety and community organizations. HOPE 4 Youth was there to raise awareness of the work we do as well as collect The Home Depot Gift Cards to cover the cost of the materials to finish construction of HOPE Place.
Financial One Credit Union held a grand re-opening at their newly remodeled Coon Rapids location this past month. We attended the the grand re-opening to show our support of this amazing community partner. 
How HOPE 4 Youth Helps
Every day, we see 30-40 young people (ages 23 and under) come through our Drop-In Center doors. We work hard to help these youth by providing them with their most basic needs such as: a nutritious meal, food from our food pantry, basic hygiene products, clothes from our clothing closets, a hot shower and laundry facilities.Then we help put them on a path to their future by securing housing, finding jobs, finishing school and accessing health and wellness services.

When the doors of the Drop-In Center close, many of the youth find themselves couch-hopping or back on the streets. The only way to change this is to provide long-term housing solutions. In late 2016, we plan to open HOPE Place, the first transitional living program for youth in the north metro Twin Cities. Twelve young people at a time will have a place to call home while they develop the skills to be leave their status of homelessness behind.
HOPE 4 Youth Needs: Donate Items
Without our generous community, we would not be able to help the young people overcome the obstacles that they face so that they are no longer homeless. There are many opportunities to help us meet their needs and donating items is one way of doing so. If you are able to donate items, please check out our  Top Needs List as well as our  Amazon Wish List which provides budget relief. 

While you're at it, why not get your network involved by holding a donation drive? You could ask for items on our Top Needs List and Amazon Wish List, bottled water or The Home Depot Gift Cards to help with the construction of HOPE Place.

To learn more, contact our Donations Team at donations@hope4youthmn.org.

HOPE 4 Youth In the News
  Anoka County Sheriff’s Office open house Sept. 13  –  ABC Newspapers, Sept. 9, 2016

Lisa Jacobson, Executive Director

Cheri Halek, Community Engagement Manager

Sara Kemp, Director of Programs & Properties

Heather Rickbeil, Donor Development Manager 

Jane Schipper, Finance Manager

Kristin VanHeel, Marketing & Comm. Director

Naomi M., Case Manager

Eddie R., Case Manager

Barb Justbarb , Receptionist

Board of Directors

Brian SwansonChairman,  Vice President of Quality and Enterprise Excellence at NACS, Inc.

Bridget Barr, 
Business Analytics Specialist at Meritain Health and Aetna Company

Paul Ekstrom, President at The Paul Ekstrom Realty Team (Keller Williams Classic Realty)

Na'im Madyun, Associate Dean of Undergraduate and Diversity Programs at University of Minnesota

Paula Rak, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo

Jerry Streich, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director for City of Andover

James Stuart, Anoka County Sheriff

John Sitarz, Senior Financial Services Rep. at Principal Financial Group

Anita Tuch Vice President of Operations at Medtronic Neuromodulation, PLC

Susan VanVoorhis, Assoc. Vice President & Univ. Reg. at University of Minnesota

Katherine Wagoner, Di rector of Membership Engagement at Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless

Sue Woodard, President and CEO at Vantage Production