January 2017 ENews
Youth Spotlight: Jason, In His Own Words

This is my story. On November 29, 2012, the house I grew up in was raided by the Anoka Police. Soon after that, my mom passed away - on Christmas Day of 2012. I knew at that point that my life was going to be a real struggle. At the time, I didn’t care about anything except drugs, alcohol, money and women. Minus the hand I was dealt, it was my fault that I continued to be homeless. I pursued anything but a place to live. I was chasing women, drugs and alcohol and it didn’t matter where I slept, as long as I was drunk or high. At the age of 18 I knew there was more to life and I checked myself into treatment.

Three words I knew well - COLD, anxiety and depression. Not having a home was very scary and honestly I would be couch surfing at friends’ houses or walk around all night doing whatever, wondering if I’m going to have a place to stay or not etched the feeling of anxiety into my head, which caused my depression.

I heard about HOPE 4 Youth in High School, when I was 16 or so. My Prevention Specialist, Renee Snow, who never gave up on me, gave me a card for HOPE. I didn’t take advantage of it right away because I was staying in Big Lake, St. Cloud and other areas. One day, I came to me senses and walked into the HOPE 4 Youth Drop-In Center and truly, sincerely, asked for help. Within two weeks, I was off the streets because I did my part and they did what they said they would do. They also helped me with things to furnish my apartment, provided me with work clothes and food. I am so appreciative of HOPE 4 Youth. When the time is right, I would love to come and help those who are in my position.

I GOT YOU! Eddie is my Case Manager. The tough love this man has shown me has been real. He did his part 100%. I am so blessed to know him - he is always there with advice to help me work through any situation. He always tells me he cannot help me more than I can help myself. The application of knowledge is powerful. You can know everything in the world but if you don’t apply it, it’s useless.

And then there’s Lisa Jacobson. Man this woman has a heart bigger than Texas. She is also there for me with advice from a different point of view than Eddie. She is always rooting for me and I’m so grateful to know I have such strong personalities and characters in my corner. It makes me want more for my life, to strive for greatness.

Every time I walk into the Center I get smiles, then people ask which one I am (I have a twin brother that comes to the center too). But I want to say “THANK YOU” to every mentor that volunteers their time and money to make the world go around in the Center. Without you guys, we wouldn’t have a center. You all are truly a blessing - thank you!

I now live in Anoka in my own apartment. I am working at DustBusters as many hours as my boss Eric will give me. When I have spare time, I like to watch the Blacklist, the MN Vikings and other TV series. I also like to keep an open mind and read self-help books, study different religions and of course social media. When I can I also like to spend time with my nephews. I recently got into vehicles and am learning more about them.

My future plans include getting my GED, which I am working on now. That will allow me to join the United States Army if I pass the ASVAB with a 50+. After I get out of the Army, I would like to get my LACD and become an Adolescent Chemical Dependency Counselor. In pursuing all of these things I would like to obtain happiness each day, always remain sober and be a productive member of society. I know it’s a process - progress not perfection.

In This Issue

Youth Spotlight: Jason, In His Own Words

Letter From the Executive Director

Your Gifts Keep Us Open for Homeless Youth

Inspiring HOPE Luncheon

Mentoring HOPE

HOPE 4 Youth Drop-In Center Update

HOPE Place Update

Program Partner Spotlight: Anoka County Workforce Center

Community Partner Spotlight: Sundance Family Foundation

Community Partners

Volunteer Spotlight: Laurie Peterson

Upcoming Events

Event Wrap-Up

HOPE 4 Youth in the News

How HOPE 4 Youth Helps

HOPE 4 Youth Needs


Board of Directors

Letter From the Executive Director
Happy Mentoring Month! In my years working in nonprofits, I have been asked by many people what mentoring is. There are many definitions of mentoring but here is one that my own mentor, Jim Weinzetl, shared and I think it is the best one I’ve ever heard.

“Mentoring is a process of one person observing and learning from another good person and being empowered to lead a good life. How does that happen? All across the Twin Cities, there are thousands of kids who instinctively know they have been dealt a bad hand in life. Every day, month after month, year after year, they get up and there is no mom or dad there. There is no home, no money, no food, no role model, no good education, no unconditional love, no dream and no hope. Every kid should have a dream. Just because they might be poor and have little doesn’t mean their dreams aren’t big and their souls aren’t rich. These kids don’t want a hand-out. They want to learn to way out. Many of us are very fortunate. We know the wonder of dignity and self-respect and being loved and accomplishments and leading a self-sustaining life. This is the stuff of which dreams are made and a life fulfilled is experienced. And this is the door through which our mentors and our young people step together.”

Every weekday, our mentors get up, lace on their shoes, step out into the cold or heat or rain and drive to HOPE 4 Youth. At HOPE 4 Youth, the young people who come here must think to themselves “can I trust him or her, or will another person disappoint me?” Each day, each week, each month, the mentors continue to pull around the corner, park in the lot and walk through the door for another shift. And the love and the trust and the empowering grows - and the young person watches. “How does the mentor react to bad situations? Are they kind? How do they talk about their family? Do they have many interests and passions? Do they persevere in tough times? Do they get joy out of their job and accomplishments? How did they get their education and career? Do they make carefully thought-out decisions? What is the process? It is the opportunity for the young person to observe and learn how to live a better life that is important. It is the time spent together with a good quality person. And the young person is slowly empowered and transformed. The grades go up. They skip school less. They get a part-time job. Their perseverance and confidence and pride and dignity go up. They carry themselves differently - you can see it happen time and time again.” And - working with HOPE 4 Youth, they create a plan to succeed. We at HOPE 4 Youth have homeless young people that walk through our door in need of mentors.

There are many wonderful charities today. But this is the one charity where you can see and watch the effect of your donation. This - changing one young person’s life - can be a legacy for you, your family and your company. Please consider joining HOPE 4 Youth in this work in whatever way you can. If becoming a mentor isn’t possible, please consider sponsoring the work being done here. Lives are changing here each and every day!

Your Gifts Keep Us Open for Homeless Youth 
Now that we opened HOPE Place, our monthly expenses have increased and the need for raising money to operate both of our programs continues. To help keep our doors open, we are  Announcing Two New Giving Clubs as a way to recognize those who continue to support our work.

Become a GEM and Give Every Month : Become a member of this club with a monthly gift through our website and be invited to an annual event just for GEMs !

Your monthly gift of $41 sponsors one homeless young person for a month at our Drop-In Center. Or pledge to give a monthly gift in any amount.

To become a GEM, simply click here and enter monthly under the frequency question.

Join the Champions of HOPE by making a total annual gift of at least $1,000. The best part is, you choose how to give that $1,000. Give $83.33 a month, $500 twice a year, or one annual gift of $1,000 (or more). Champions of HOPE will be recognized in many ways - on our website, social media and with your own special event hosted by a local celebrity. To become a Champion of HOPE, make your gifts on our website here or email Lisa Jacobson to make your pledge.
We are thrilled to announce a new event at HOPE 4 Youth. The Inspiring HOPE Luncheon will be held on Thursday, May 4th from Noon-1 p.m. at Leopold's Mississippi Gardens just over the 610 bridge. You will hear from a few of the young people whose lives have been changed because HOPE 4 Youth is there for them. We will also announce recipients of the 2017 Inspiring HOPE Awards. More information will be out soon!

Thank you to  Thrivent North Central Associates  for being a Hero Sponsor ($2,500). Because of their sponsorship, you will have a chance to participate in a Thrivent Action Team at the luncheon, packing small bags of necessary items for homeless youth. 

We are looking for sponsors and table captains to help make this event a wonderful success. If you are interested in being a table captain, sponsoring or would like to volunteer or need other event information, contact Lisa Jacobson  or call her at 763.234.0315.
Mentoring HOPE

Oprah Winfrey describes a mentor as "someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself." If you've ever had the opportunity to listen to the stories of the young people who have had their lives changed by HOPE 4 Youth, then you'll know that Oprah's description is quite accurate. 

Last year, nearly 50 mentors spent 5,248 hours at our Drop-In Center working with the youth so that they could meet their basic needs, move from homeless to housed, finish their education, secure employment, and ultimately succeed in their future. A youth recently commented that "a mentor helped me write my resume, took the time to work with me and made me feel confident in myself." 

Perhaps more importantly, they showed the youth that they had a consistent and caring presence in their lives; which has been proven to make a difference between youth engaging in positive or risky behaviors.  The youth count on the mentors for the guidance that they need to overcome the obstacles that they face on a daily basis.  One youth shared that "the mentors like to listen to me and that's why I like to talk to them." 

Without  the mentors, we would not be able to open the doors to the Drop-In Center at 2 p.m. They take time from their personal lives so that homeless young people are able to have the HOPE they need to move forward with their lives. Not only are they transforming the lives of the youth by doing this, but they are also strengthening our community.

Because we might not say it enough, we wanted to take National Mentor Month to remind all of our current and past mentors that we appreciate you more than words can ever say ... and the youth do as well.

HOPE 4 Youth Drop-In Center Update
  • The holiday season kept the Donations Team on their toes. The team is truly amazing at accepting the items that are brought in to the Donations Center, keeping them organized and stocking the food pantry, clothing closets and other areas that the youth access for personal needs items; plus they always have smiles on their faces and are having fun. Thank you for all your hard work during the holiday season as well as the rest of the year. 

  • Santa Claus made a surprise visit to the Drop-In Center just in time for Christmas. He came bearing gifts for the youth and their children and spread holiday cheer throughout the entire Center.  The youth, especially those with children, we're excited to have their pictures taken with Santa. All the youth, who signed-up, received a gift card in their stocking or holiday gift bag which were donated by community members. One youth even said, "The only time I get Christmas presents is from HOPE 4 Youth, it makes me feel special."

  • Keep an eye out the next time you are at the Drop-In Center for the digital billboard purchased with a grant from SHIP and Allina. The youth will learn more about healthy choices, especially in eating, upcoming programming at the Drop-In Center and other information that will be useful to them.

  • We are in need of someone who enjoys spending time with dirt, dust and grime ... or someone who wants to help keep the Drop-In Center clean. If you're interested in joining the Clean Team, please email chalek@hope4youthmn.org.

  • Several young people have moved from homeless to housed over the past six months, however, we still have many more youth who do not know where they are going to lay their head at night. If you'd like to be part of a committee, the Housing Heroes, who focuses on finding housing opportunities for the youth and the items they need for their apartments, please contact skemp@hope4youthmn.org to become a Housing Hero.
HOPE Place Update
  • HOPE Place is officially a home! The first four youth moved in on December 15, 2016, and they were excited to sign their leases so they could settle into their new home. These first youth couldn't grasp that this is their own, fully-furnished, warm, safe place to lay down at night. It was amazing to witness their joy!

  • The youth who call HOPE Place home have already been working towards their futures. Stay tuned for the young people to share their successes soon!

  • HOPE Place is staffed by dedicated volunteers and two part-time staff, Linda Burt and Brooke #. Linda and Brooke are front desk administrative employees who cover the late evening and weekend shifts. Brooke has been part of the HOPE 4 Youth Donations Team for more than a year and Linda has a long career working in social services. We are lucky to have both of them on our team.
Program Partner Spotlight: Anoka County Workforce Center
The Anoka County Workforce Center has been helping many of the youth at the Drop-In Center and HOPE Place with their employment and education goals. Jenilee Drilling, Senior Vocational Counselor, visits twice weekly with the youth so that they are prepared and working towards their career pathways.

Jenilee specifically works with young adults ages 18-24 in the youth program called Empowers. The Empowers Program offers individualized services to explore careers, support training, and gain work experience through paid internships. She also helps with resume writing and prepares the youth for their future job interviews.

The youth "click" with Jenilee and we are thrilled to partner with her and the Anoka County Workforce Center so that the youth can find the path towards their dream career!
Community Partner Spotlight: Sundance Family Foundation
HOPE 4 Youth shines the light on a new partner this month. We were recently awarded a grant by the Sundance Family Foundation to support having an employee of the Anoka County Workforce Center at HOPE Place two half days a week, to work intensely with the residents on their career pathways.

The mission of the Sundance Family Foundation is to support youth development and strengthen family stability. The Sundance Family Foundation drives change that enables young people, their families, and their communities, to thrive. They focus on youth-serving organizations as important intermediaries and strive to develop needed capacity and build bridges and pipelines to important resources. We thank them for believing in our youth and our work enough to invest their resources in us.
Community Partners
North Suburban
Hospital District
Volunteer Spotlight: Laurie Peterson
"If you do your part, HOPE 4 Youth is here to support you in every way to meet your goals," are words of wisdom that Laurie Peterson shares with the youth that she mentors at the Drop-In Center. Laurie has been sharing these words since the doors of the Drop-in Center opened in Spring 2013 and continues to do so during her shifts as a Lead Mentor and Trainer.

Laurie first learned about HOPE 4 Youth while reading the local newspapers. She had recently become an "empty-nester" as her youngest child left for college and was in need of something to fill the void. She decided that HOPE 4 Youth could fill it and it has not only done that, but also more for her.

In the time that she has been mentoring at HOPE 4 Youth, she has seen the lives of homeless young people impacted in numerous ways. She says that the youth feel safe at HOPE 4 Youth as they have mentors they can talk to and work out issues that they experiencing with. She's also seen their basic needs meet through access to a hot meal, clothing, food pantry items, etc. And, if they've put forth the effort, she's seen youth move from homeless to housed and unemployed to employed.

Laurie shared that HOPE 4 Youth has changed her life, "It has made me more aware of the impact family and upbringing has on everyone's future. Many of our young people at HOPE 4 Youth need reinforcement to help close the gap in this respect."

On behalf of the youth, we thank Laurie for the countless hours that she has dedicated to changing the lives of the homeless young people who walk through our Drop-In Center doors.
Upcoming Events
  • North Suburban Concert Band Annual Cathedral Concert
    Sunday, March 5; 2 p.m.
    Coon Rapids United Methodist (10506 Hanson Blvd NW in Coon Rapids)
    Admission is free to the annual concert with a freewill offering to be collected for HOPE 4 Youth. 
    Questions? Contact the North Suburban Concert Band at info@nscband.org.

  • Annual Spaghetti Dinner
    Sunday, March 19; 3-6 p.m.
    Coon Rapids VFW (1919 Coon Rapids Blvd NW in Coon Rapids)
    Join us for the fourth annual Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser to benefit HOPE 4 Youth. Tickets can be purchased online at HOPE4YouthMN.org/sdinner.
    Questions? Contact Pam Harer, HOPE 4 Youth Community Impact Committee Chair, at prharer6912@gmail.com.

  • NEW EVENT: Inspiring HOPE Luncheon
    Thursday, May 4; 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
    Mississippi Gardens (9500 West River Road in Brooklyn Park)
    A free luncheon in support of HOPE 4 Youth, sponsorship opportunities available. 
    We  are looking for table captains to invite others to hear about HOPE 4 Youth from those whose lives are changed by our work. 
    Questions or to register? Contact Lisa Jacobson, Executive Director, at ljacobson@hope4youthmn.org.

  • Heartland Tire Classic Golf Tournament
    Monday, August 21; 11:30 a.m.
    Edinburgh USA Golf Course (
    8700 Edinbrook Crossing in Brooklyn Park)
    The Heartland Tire Classic Golf Tournament raises funds for the mortgage of HOPE Place, our transitional housing in Coon Rapids. More information will be available soon.

  • The Darkest Night of Your Life 4K
    Saturday, September 23; 8-11 p.m.
    Bunker Hills Golf Club (12800 Bunker Prairie Road NW in Coon Rapids)
    The Darkest Night of Your Life 4K is an annual event that will support the operational expenses of HOPE Place. Please visit HOPE4YouthMN.org/4k for more information.

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

Event Wrap-Up
This is the second year that the Brazil family decided to celebrate Christmas differently and  thought that it was time to give back. They had heard HOPE Place was in need of household items so they cut back on Christmas gifts for each other and together, they bought items that they hope will help in some way with the success of the youth at HOPE Place. Thank you Paula Brazil and family for your showing what the holiday season is about - giving!
The Anoka County Employees donated $1,000 to HOPE 4 Youth at the end of 2016.
The Flagship Logistics Corporate Office employees donated $2,400 for HOPE Place at the end of 2016.   
HOPE 4 Youth In the News
How HOPE 4 Youth Helps
Every day, we see young people (ages 23 and under) come through our Drop-In Center doors. We work hard to help these young people by meeting 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 towards a bright future by securing housing, finding jobs, finishing school and accessing on-site 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. That is why we opened  HOPE Place , the first transitional housing for youth in the north metro Twin Cities. The first young people are already calling HOPE Place home while they develop the skills needed to leave their status of homelessness behind them.  
HOPE 4 Youth Needs
Without support from our generous community, we would not be able to help the homeless young people that we serve overcome the obstacles that they face each and every day, especially meeting their basic needs.

There are many opportunities to help meet their needs and donating items is one way of doing so. If you are able to donate items, please check out our Needs  as well as our   Amazon Wish List  which includes items for the Drop-In Center and HOPE Place that provides budget relief. Items can be dropped-off at our Donations Center on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-noon. The Donations Center is located at 2664 4th Avenue N, Anoka, MN; look for the HOPE 4 Youth sign by the wooden ramp.

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 or cash and gift cards. To learn more about donation drives, contact our Donations Drives Lead at donationsdrives@hope4youthmn.org.

P.S. Don't forget to use Amazon Smile (select HOPE 4 Youth as your charity) when shopping on Amazon! By shopping Amazon Smile, a percentage of your total purchase is donated back to HOPE 4 Youth.

Lisa Jacobson Executive Director

Joyce Finch Development Associate

Cheri Halek Community Engagement Manager

Sara Kemp Director of Programs & Properties

Jane Schipper Finance Manager

Kristin VanHeel Marketing & Comm. Director

Naomi M. Case Manager

Eddie R. Case Manager

Barb Justbarb Receptionist

Linda Burt HOPE Place Admin. Support

Brooke # HOPE Place Admin. Support
Board of Directors
Susan VanVoorhis Chair
Assoc. V.P. & Univ. Reg., University of Minnesota

Sue Woodard Vice Chair
President and CEO, Vantage Production

Sarah Nohner Treasurer
Financial Controller,  Graco 

Katherine Wagoner Secretary
Di r. of Membership Engagement,  Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless

Paul Ekstrom
President, The Paul Ekstrom Realty Team 

Na'im Madyun
Assoc. Dean of Undergraduate & Diversity Programs, University of Minnesota

Paula Rak
Senior V.P.,  Wells Fargo

John Sitarz
Sr. Financial Services Rep., Principal Financial Group

Jerry Streich
Fire Chief & Emergency Management Dir., City of Andover

James Stuart
Anoka County Sheriff

Brian Swanson Past Chair
V.P. of Quality & Enterprise Excellence, NACS, Inc.

2665 4th Avenue North | Suite 40 
Anoka, Minnesota 55303