April 2017 ENews
Miranda's Story: HOPE For My Daughter and I

"Everything takes time" is a phrase that Miranda knows all too well.  Employed but forced to sleep on couches, in motels, in cars and even on the streets because her income couldn't cover rent, Miranda wasn't sure how much time it would take before she and Dakota, her daughter, would have a safe place that they could call home.

Miranda felt hopeless every day while she was homeless. She had no support from the people closest to her - including her parents - during the time in her life that she needed them the most. It hurt, she said, but it "also made me push myself that much harder because I knew that I was the only one who could create a better life for Dakota and I."

Miranda knew, however, that she could not necessarily move forward on her own and that led her to HOPE 4 Youth. "HOPE 4 Youth has helped me with everything," she said, "They helped me look for an apartment, find resources that I needed, made sure we had clothes and gave Dakota and I warm meals when we were hungry. But most of all, they gave Dakota and I a place to go where I always knew I had people that would support me - they became the family support that I always needed."

It was the support that she received that has changed her life. Currently, Miranda and Dakota live in their own apartment. A new bundle of joy will be joining their family soon and Miranda is more determined than ever to give herself and children the life she's always dreamed of. 

"I am so proud of the progress that I have made and don't plan to stop here," she added. Miranda received life-changing news recently from her employer, Cummins. After being employed as a temporary employee for a year, she has been hired on as a full-time employee. This will allow her to continue paying her bills on time, fix her credit and save for a new car. She also has long-term goals, including becoming a home owner.

Miranda constantly reminds herself that everything takes time and if you stick to it, you can achieve your dreams!
In This Issue

Miranda's Story: HOPE For My Daughter and I

Letter From the Executive Director

Inspiring HOPE Luncheon

Keeping the Doors Open, Lights On and Youth Moving Forward

Thank You Volunteers for Supporting HOPE 4 Youth

Drop-In Center Update

HOPE Place Update

Program Partner Spotlight: TreeHouse Youth

Volunteer Spotlight: Rob Wills

Upcoming Events

Event Wrap-Up

Community Partners: Inspiring HOPE Luncheon Sponsors

How HOPE 4 Youth Helps

HOPE 4 Youth Needs

HOPE 4 Youth In The News


Board of Directors

Letter From the Executive Director

It truly takes a village of volunteers at HOPE 4 Youth to change the number of lives that we do. 

As I sat in my office listening to the young man who will be speaking next week at our Inspiring HOPE Luncheon, I was struck by his deep appreciation for our volunteers. Having worked with volunteers for the past 25 years, I know that without them, no organization can make the greatest impact on those they serve. What I saw in his tear-filled eyes, was that his life has been forever changed by those he named and those he only knows by face or by the support he gets because of their dedication. 

I say this to all of our volunteers. You most likely don't realize that our youth remember you after they walk out of our door, even if they never meet you. They make decisions in their life because of a talk you had with them. When faced with a decision, big or small, you flash into their head and they wonder, what would (YOUR NAME) do?

Your impact goes so much further than you see before your own eyes. They feel safe in your presence. They are no longer hungry because of the food you sort and stock. They learn from you. They know you care about them. They are warm because of the blanket you carefully folded and put on the shelf. They are able to get into housing because of a fundraising event you worked on. And they are forever changed just by having you spend your time volunteering for HOPE.

On behalf of my entire team, our board, and most importantly our youth, THANK YOU! You are appreciated each and every day at HOPE 4 Youth!

Have you reserved your seat at the inaugural Inspiring HOPE Luncheon? The Luncheon is free- thanks to our sponsors - to anyone who wants to support homeless young people right here in our own backyard, but there will be an opportunity to make a financial gift at the end of the hour.  

The Luncheon will give you an opportunity to learn about what young people face when they no longer have a home and how HOPE 4 Youth and our community partners are inspiring them to move past their status of homelessness and achieve the future they have always dreamed of. 

We will also be awarding the first Inspiring HOPE Awards to several of our partners.

WHEN:  Thursday, May 4
Registration 11:30 a.m.
Luncheon Noon-1 p.m. 
WHERE:  Leopold's Mississippi Gardens
9500 West River Road,  Brooklyn Park, MN
RSVP If you'd like to attend, contact Lisa Jacobson, by ASAP at 763.234.0315 or ljacobson@hope4youthmn.org
Can't Attend?  Consider donating instead! Why not donate $41 to sponsor a youth at the Drop-In Center for a month or $492 for a year? Donate securely online here.

A special thank you to our emcee Jay Olstad, KARE11 reporter, and media partner KARE 11.

Thanks also to our sponsors: Financial One Credit Union, Connexus Energy, Culligan of Anoka, Midwest MRI Center, The Paul Ekstrom Team- Keller Williams Classic Realty and Thrivent North Central Associates.
Keeping the Doors Open, Lights On and Youth Moving Forward

HOPE 4 Youth's mission is as important today as it was four years ago when we began providing help to those who need it most.  Our programs focus on the challenges facing today's homeless youth. While the need for HOPE 4 Youth's services and housing has remained constant, the demand for our services has now reached a critical level. 

Help us continue to serve our community. When we do well, our youth do well and ultimately our community does well. We ask that you consider becoming a GEM and sign up to Give Every Month.  Please visit our donation page here.  Complete the donation form making sure to select "Monthly" under "Donation Frequency"  to ensure that you join the ranks of other GEM donors.  Thank you for making an ongoing commitment to our youth!

Thank You Volunteers For Supporting HOPE 4 Youth 

April is National Volunteer Month and here at HOPE 4 Youth we are lucky to have volunteers who provide a supportive community for homeless youth who are in need of help - every one of you plays your own role in ensuring that the youth are moving forward. Instead of thanking you on behalf of all of the youth, we want to share thank yous from two youth whose lives you have profoundly impacted. 

  • I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped me. They are all special in their own way. When I first came to HOPE, I was terrified and scared. I had no clue what to do and with their help I am happy and full of life again ... They truly are a gift from God. When God brought me into their hands, I came from an abusive situation and I was a mess. The wonders that they do for you are a miracle from above. I want to thank them all. I love all of you. Thanks for being there for me. - CW

  • Dear Volunteers, I am writing this letter to you because I am thankful that you are willing to volunteer and am grateful that you'll spend quality time with us. You have helped me with a lot of things and taught me to put effort into my life. You also taught me how to believe in myself and that I can achieve my goals. I hope that someday I can repay the respect that you have given me and volunteer to change another person's life.
    Sincerely, BF
Drop-In Center Update
  • Several youth moved from homeless to housed this month! On Saturday, April 1st, a young couple who had been coming to HOPE 4 Youth while couch-hopping for nine months, and working full-time, moved into an apartment. While they were homeless, they started working with our case manager to save money by budgeting so that having their own place was a possibility. Our new Housing Heroes Committee helped arrange a donated bed for them as well as other necessities that they needed. We will continue to support them with ongoing case management and services so that they can be successful in their new home.

  • A young woman moved into a one bedroom apartment on April 10th and she was beyond excited to have her own home. The young woman had been hopping from family member to family member while she worked as a PCA. Sara, our Director of Programs & Properties, connected with one of the property managers that we partner with and was able to work out a payment plan for rent so that she did not have to continue living with family while saving her deposit. 

  • April is STD Awareness Month and we are ensuring that the youth are able to get tested for STDs on Wednesdays at HOPE Clinic. If they get tested, they receive a $5 coupon for $5 Dollar Pizza in Anoka. This "Pee for Pizza" event is the first of many health promotions that we will offer the youth.
HOPE Place Update
  • One of the first steps to becoming an independent adult is finding employment. Thanks to our partnership with the Anoka County Workforce Center, the youth at HOPE Place are not only securing employment, but also showing that they are responsible, accountable and hard-working on the job! One youth is interested in a career in the health field, possibly nursing, so she is now working in the activity department at a nursing home and loving it. 
  • Education is another important step to moving towards being an independent adult. Two youth are currently completing their high school diploma and one youth is taking general courses in college. Meeting their educational goals would most likely not have been possible if these young people were still worrying about where they would lay their head at night. 

  • Once the youth are completely moved in and created their home at HOPE Place, the real work begins especially taking care of their physical and mental health. Many physical and mental health issues may have not been diagnosed or not treated due to never feeling able to let their guard down. The youth are now focusing on their health and not where they will be sleeping from night to night. 
Program Partner Spotlight: TreeHouse Youth
"You are lovable, capable and worthwhile." HOPE 4 Youth is excited to announce our new partnership with TreeHouse which will make a new impact in the lives of young people by providing them with a Christian faith program option, after hours, should they so choose it.

TreeHouse has been training volunteers who lead the program, which is held after the center closes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. TreeHouse-trained volunteers, led by Area Director Rob Wills, have a ribbon on their nametags just like the LGBTQ Safe-Space Trained and the Wellness Team members. This ribbon has been added to the board at the Drop-In Center, so young people know who they can talk to about the TreeHouse program.

We have added HOPE TreeHouse to our program schedule and officially kicked it off on April 16th. As we work to holistically serve our youth, this after-center-hours option is intended to meet their spiritual needs.
Volunteer Spotlight: Rob Wills
"HOPE 4 Youth gave me purpose at a time when I was discerning my next steps in my life. I know the best way of getting "out of your own self" is by helping others." That is exactly what Rob Wills, lead mentor and HOPE TreeHouse area director, has been doing for more than two years.

Rob first met Brian Swanson, HOPE 4 Youth founder, in 2014 and was at that time recovering from a few years of illnesses and surgeries. Prior to getting sick, Rob had worked for Sharing & Caring Hands, running their Teen Center. While he was sick and having surgeries, he had to resign his position there and when he began to get healthy again he knew he wanted to return to working with homeless youth. His friend Micky told him to check out HOPE 4 Youth and we are sure glad that he did!

During his time at HOPE 4 Youth Rob has been blessed to see a number of kids take the opportunities that are abundant at the Drop-In Center and use them to better themselves. He also shares the following words of wisdom with the youth, "Have an A, B, C & D plan! Be prepared to adapt when the plans change after goals have or have not been met. Tough times never last, tough people do. Your lives matter - no matter how troubled you are, you are here for a purpose."

Rob's newest role, HOPE TreeHouse Area Director, allows him to provide another tool to hurting youth - faith. "Whether it is a tough situation at home, anger, addiction, or other issues - many youth are searching for meaning and I believe they can help find it with the help of TreeHouse." He adds, "Our TreeHouse program is staffed with some amazing volunteers who have spent a considerable amount of time training to be prepared to help our youth. I would like to thank Lisa, Cheri and Nick for giving me the opportunity to run the program and am humbled by their confidence in me. In addition, I am thankful for Sara and Eddie having my back."

Rob is an inspiration to the youth he mentors because he knows first-hand the power of peoples' support. When he was 19 years old, he broke his back and learned that he would have to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Many people surrounded him and their support and encouragement made a difference in his life. He now tries to be that source of encouragement for others. 
Upcoming Events
  • NEW EVENT: Inspiring HOPE Luncheon
    Thursday, May 4; 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
    Mississippi Gardens (9500 West River Road in Brooklyn Park)
    This is your opportunity to learn about the work that HOPE 4 Youth is doing to inspire homeless young people to move past their status of homeless and achieve the future that they have always dreamed of. 

    If you'd like to attend, contact Lisa Jacobson, Executive Director, at ljacobson@hope4youthmn.org.

  • Pizza Ranch Fundraiser
    Monday, June 19; 5-9 p.m.
    Pizza Ranch in Andover
    This Community Impact Fundraiser donates 10% of the proceeds as well as all of the tips back to HOPE 4 Youth.
    Questions? Contact Pam Harer, HOPE 4 Youth Community Impact Committee Chair, at prharer6912@gmail.com.

  • 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. For more information, visit HeartlandTireClassic.com.

  • 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 supports HOPE Place, HOPE 4 Youth's transitional housing.. For more information, visit HOPE4YouthMN.org/4k.

  • Shoot 4 HOPE Pheasant Hunt
    Friday, September 29; 8 a.m.-noon
    Wild Wings of Oneka (9491 152nd St N in Hugo)
    More information will be available soon.

  • Carnival 4 HOPE Gala
    Saturday, October 7, 2017
    Marriott Northwest (7025 Northland Dr N in Brooklyn Park)
    More information will be available soon.

To learn more about upcoming events, click here.

Event Wrap-Up
HOPE 4 Youth may not have won Farrell's eXtreme Bodyshaping's Charity Challenge ... But we did end up winners thanks to all of you! Thanks to Tim and Sara Sanken, FXB Brooklyn Park and FXB Maple Grove members and everyone else who donated, we ended up receiving $14,500! 

Thank you to everyone who supported HOPE 4 Youth at this year’s Spaghetti Dinner. More than 400 people attended the dinner which raised over $8,000. This will allow HOPE 4 Youth to continue meeting the needs of the homeless youth who walk through our Drop-In Center door each and every day.

We also want to thank the HOPE 4 Youth Community Impact Committee for making the dinner a success! We appreciate all your efforts and look forward to your next fundraiser - Pizza Ranch in June.

View pictures from the dinner here.

Community Partners: Inspiring HOPE Luncheon Sponsors
How HOPE 4 Youth Helps
Here at HOPE 4 Youth we work hard to address both the immediate and long-term issues that homeless young people face each and every day.

Last year, 732 young people (ages 23 and under) walked through our Drop-In Center doors. We helped 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 put them on a path towards a bright future by helping them secure housing, find jobs, finish school and access 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. We knew that we had to do something to address this and in December 2016 we opened the doors to HOPE Place, the first transitional housing for youth in Anoka County. Twelve young people are calling HOPE Place home while they develop the skills they need to leave their status of homeless behind them. 
HOPE 4 Youth Needs
We would not be able to help the homeless young people that we serve without ongoing support from the community.

There are many opportunities to help meet their needs and donating items is one way of doing so. Currently, our shelves are fully stocked so if you are considering donating items, please check our current   Top Needs List as well as our   Amazon Wish List  which includes items for the Drop-In Center and HOPE Place that provide budget relief. Items can be dropped-off at our Donations Center on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-noon or sent directly to us through Amazon. 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 Needs List and Amazon Wish List or cash and gift cards. To learn more about donation drives, contact our Donations Drives Lead, Marina, at donationsdrives@hope4youthmn.org.

P.S. Keep in mind that we are always in need of monetary donations so that we can keep the doors of both the Drop-In Center and HOPE Place open. Instead of purchasing items, why not consider directly donating money at Hope4YouthMN.org/Donate. If you make a donation of $50, you will be supporting one youth who visits the Drop-In Center, in need of resources and services for an entire month.

HOPE 4 Youth in the News

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

Eddie R. Case Manager

Linda Burt HOPE Place Admin. Support

Brooke Limanen HOPE Place Admin. Support

Anna Worel Special Events Coordinator

Board of Directors
Susan VanVoorhis Chair
Assoc. V.P. & Univ. Reg., University of Minnesota

Sue Woodard Vice Chair

Sarah Nohner Treasurer
Financial Controller,  Graco 

Katherine Wagoner Secretary

Paul Ekstrom
President, The Paul Ekstrom Realty Team 

Sean Haag
Vice President, Global Strategic Marketing, Restorative Therapies Group, Medtronic

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