June 2017 ENews
Jenaa's Story: Things Can Get Better

My name is Jenaa and this is my story. I am a mother of two children who has overcome a very troubling past. I lived a great childhood in Hutchinson, MN, living with my father and stepmother. I had a wonderful family, and three siblings who I was close with. My father divorced this relationship when I was twelve years old and remarried. This began the beginning of a very dark time in my life, but I didn’t know it yet.

About a year after moving away from Hutch, I met a boy and soon found myself in an abusive relationship. I thought I could fix him, but he was addicted to meth. I know now that it was not my place to fix him. I left home at the age of 15 to be with this boy. I became pregnant with my first daughter at 16 years old. During my pregnancy, he had found treatment and was sober. My oldest daughter, Venessa, was born on August 25, 2012. My relationship with him was abusive free for about 15 months.

During this time,  I was working and was the only financial support for my family. While I was at work one day, when Venessa was just 6 months old, the abuse had come back, but this time, not to me. He broke 10 of her ribs, both of her legs, her arm and he fractured her skull. She was placed in intensive care for about two months and she went through multiple surgeries. During this time my life felt like it was ending. I vowed to make sure I would be the best mother I could be for her.

I obtained my GED in November of 2013 and had my second daughter on September 21, 2014. Four months after having my second daughter I had found out about a pathway program to get a Certified Nursing Aide Certificate. I went to school for that and received it on May 12, 2015. My daughter’s injuries had made me become very passionate about pediatric issues. I want the chance to bring light into children’s lives who are going through such a sad traumatic period, which is so important to me. I had contemplated this passion while working in a nursing home for over a year until I decided to follow my goal of pediatric nursing. 

I am sharing my story with you, a story of how things can get better. Today I am a proud mother of two beautiful children. I have learned motivation. I have a steady job that I love and I am an honor roll nursing student. I have to thank HOPE 4 Youth for teaching me the skills I need to be self-sufficient, helping me save the money I needed to buy my first stethoscope, because they help provide me with my everyday items and that helped me save my income for it. They also introduced me to Jodi and Duane Stark, who recently awarded me with their scholarship to follow my dreams, and help me be the mother my children need me to be. They are such a great supportive couple, and I know that I have these people in my life and HOPE 4 Youth every step of the way. I am so appreciative of all of the people at HOPE that have helped and will continue to help me. Please support the important work they are doing with young people like me. I don't want to think where I would be without HOPE 4 Youth.
In This Issue

Jenaa's Story

Letter from the Executive Director

Carnival 4 HOPE Gala

The Darkest Night of Your Life 4K

Drop-In Center Update

HOPE Place Update

Who We Served By The Numbers (2016)

Program Partner Spotlight

Community Partner Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight

Upcoming Events

HOPE 4 Youth In The News

Event Wrap-Up

How HOPE 4 Youth Helps

HOPE 4 Youth Needs

Community Partners


Board of Directors

Letter From the Executive Director

Each year it is estimated that across this country, 20,000 kids in foster care are left to care for themselves because they are too old and no longer qualify for placement with foster families. Minnesota law does allow youth who are in foster care on their 18th birthdays to receive extended foster care services and payments in some cases. Six months prior to the youth's 18th birthday, the county will send a notice to the youth, their legal guardian, guardian ad litem and foster parents explaining options for the youth when they turn 18, which are: Continue in foster care up to age 21; Leave foster care when they turn 18, in which case a personalized transition plan must be developed during the last three months they are in foster care; In some cases, youth who left foster care at age 18 may be able to return to care.

As we all know, most 18-year-olds haven't yet developed strong-enough life skills to enable them to live on their own and youth aging out of foster care are typically even less prepared for independent living. A high percentage of these young people never finish high school and many don't have jobs. Their rates of arrest, health problems, and welfare dependency are far higher than those of the population as a whole – as is their rate of homelessness. They often wind up on the streets or in trouble with law enforcement. There are many fortunate ones, though, who find their way to HOPE 4 Youth.

Here, they have the chance to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to transition from being a homeless youth to an independent adult. Through ongoing efforts, we work to help them find jobs, learn basic skills to live on their own, and find them housing. We also make sure that they know we are here for them, working with them so they never land on the streets and become homeless again.

I want to thank all of you who continue to support our work and our youth with your financial support. With the opening of HOPE Place five months ago, our expenses have increased in that we are now a 24/7/365 program. You have my guarantee that we are being the best stewards with your hard-earned contributions as we can possibly be. And with our numbers higher than ever before as reflected in the increase from 369 youth served in 2015 to 732 in 2016, your support is needed now more than ever. 

Please reach out to me if you would like a tour of our Drop-In Center or you would like to help with an event, assist us in our work to end youth homelessness, or if you have other thoughts or ideas. We do not do this alone and count on your support to keep our doors open for the young people aging out of foster care and all of the others who need us to be here. Thank you!

Save the Date! The Carnival 4 HOPE Gala is an evening of dinner, auctions, games, a raffle and entertainment to benefit HOPE 4 Youth.

When • Saturday, October 7, 2017; 5:30 p.m. Social and 7 p.m. Dinner Seating
Where • Minneapolis Marriott Northwest – Northland Ballroom in Brooklyn Park

Featured Guest • Jimmy Wayne, Award Winning Musician, New York Times Best Selling Author and Keynote Speaker, will be sharing his story about aging out of the foster system and becoming homeless. He’ll also be sharing his musical talents. Learn more about Jimmy Wayne by reading his book Walk to Beautiful or listen to his music below.

Emcee • Jay Olstad, KARE 11 Reporter and HOPE 4 Youth supporter, will be the emcee for the evening.

There are many ways to support the young people at the Gala. Please consider sponsoring the event, reserving your table or purchasing individual tickets.

Registration is now open! Learn more at HOPE4YouthMN.org/Gala.

Questions?  Contact Lisa Jacobson, Executive Director, at  ljacobson@hope4youthmn.org  or 763.323.2066, ext. 107. 

On any given night, there are more than 6,000 homeless youth in the State of Minnesota and many of them are right here in the north metro suburbs. When the darkness of night sets in, these youth are staying in shelters, couch-hopping or sleeping on the streets. HOPE 4 Youth, a nonprofit that provides pathways to end youth homelessness, is raising awareness of the plight of the young people by bringing the community together for “The Darkest Night of Your Life 4K.”

Participants will experience many of the same things as homeless young people – darkness, loneliness, cold and quiet – while they run/walk the the 4K “4” homeless youth, as well as raise funds for HOPE Place, HOPE 4 Youth’s new transitional housing program. HOPE Place is one of our long-term solutions to ending youth homelessness. Twelve homeless young people are calling HOPE Place home while they learn the skills necessary to become independent, self-sustaining adults.

What •  4K Run/Walk
When •  Saturday, September 23, 2017
Where •  Bunker Hills Golf Club, 12800 Bunker Prairie Road NW, Coon Rapids, Mn
Cost •  Early registration fee $30 (includes shirt). On-site registration fee $40 ( shirt not guaranteed). The first 1,000 participants to register will receive a swag bag provided by Target.

Discounts •  Student (Ages 18 and Under) fee $25. Family (2 Adults and 2 Children Ages 18 and Under) fee $25 per family member.

Registration will be open soon. Learn more at HOPE4YouthMN.org/4K.

Questions? Contact Lisa Jacobson, Executive Director, at ljacobson@hope4youthmn.org or 763.323.2066, ext. 107. 

Drop-In Center Update
  • The Drop-In Center has gone green! A special thank you to Kathy Paakh for taking the lead on this project and working with Anoka County to ensure that all the changes that we needed to make - new receptacles, signage and compostable materials - were funded. Every day the youth, volunteers and staff improve in their efforts to recycle - soon everyone will be experts!

  • The Housing Heroes Committee has been extremely busy this month both collecting furniture and household items from the community, as well as helping youth "shop" for the items they need in the storage unit and moving the items to the place they call home! Last week, the committee members picked up nine mattress from Open Box Buys on Main Street in Anoka and the owner also plans to donate new bedding for the mattresses. Our hearts are overflowing with joy thinking about the young people - many who have never had their own bed - soon sleeping on these new mattresses!

  • Eddie, our Youth and Community Outreach Case Manager, has been continuing outreach in schools. He visited Paladin every Tuesday until the end of the school year, to ensure that the youth at the school have access to the resources and services that we provide. He's been working closely with the Paladin social worker who has been advising him on which students he needs to meet with. Many students have visited the Drop-In Center to use our services. One of their youth just moved into housing on June 1 through our partnership. 

  • Many of the youth who visit the Drop-In Center are working hours that do not allow them to visit the Drop-In Center. Starting last month, youth can call and schedule appointments with Eddie to visit the Drop-In Center outside of normal scheduled hours. One youth who visits the Drop-In Center regularly had her hours changed to 2-11 p.m., so set up an appointment with Eddie to visit the food pantry and clothing closet. She was so appreciative that we are offering this!  

  • Joyce Finch, our Development Associate, has been working on the floor as a temporary case manager. Joyce has a background working with young people who come from difficult situations and began her career at HOPE 4 Youth as a volunteer mentor. 

  • There are many exciting things in the works - especially on the housing front - and we look forward to sharing them with you in the coming months! 
HOPE Place Update

The 12 young people who call HOPE Place home are developing the skills they need to eventually become independent, self-sustaining adults. This is not an easy process and many of the young people were unaware of the "tough-love" approach that comes with living in a transitional housing program; an approach that will allow them to achieve the independence they will need to move forward.

This independence includes everything from budgeting so that they can purchase their own supplies to simply carrying their apartment keys. For example, one youth couldn't understand why she had to carry her keys for the front door and her apartment because the volunteers and staff could just let her in. Sara, our Director of Programs and Properties, explained to her that independent youth who live on their own must carry their keys - there is no one to let them in -and that she will need to do the same in the future. It was a thought-provoking conversation that completely changed the youth's way of thinking.

Independence also means ensuring that the youth understand the need to finish their education and secure employment. Currently, four youth are in work experience programs with the workforce center, and three others are in a process to find work. The partnership with the Anoka County Workforce has been invaluable to help the youth become successful in the educational and career goals that they set.

Other partners, including Anoka County SNAP and MNSure navigators, work with the youth at HOPE Place on meeting their other needs. These partners are on-site twice a month to help them with applying or fixing problems with their food support and/or health insurance. This will continue until there is no longer a need. 

P.S. When we first began construction on HOPE Place, we were told that the roof would need to be replaced in two to three years. The early Spring thaw showed us that this was not the case and that a new roof is needed as soon as possible. Work has been completed, but we still need to raise funds to cover the cost. Please help us Raise the Roof so that we can keep a roof over the heads of homeless youth. You can donate directly by clicking on the "Donate" button below.

Who We Served By The Numbers (2016)
Program Partner Spotlight: Early Childhood Family Education
In 2016, 732 young people experiencing homelessness walked through our doors in need of resources and services:
Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE),an Anoka-Hennepin School District program, offers weekly support for pregnant and young parents at HOPE 4 Youth's Drop-In Center. Licensed ECFE teachers talk with the youth who are parents or caregivers to provide them with information, ideas and resource information to help them support their child's growth and development.

From September 2016 - May 2017, more than 30 youth have connected with ECFE teachers to discuss child development milestones, topics such as eating, sleeping, behaviors, play, and academics, community resources such as the teen pregnancy program and/or access to a public health nurse.  

Partnerships like this one with ECFE allow us to ensure that the youth have easy, on-site access to the resources and services that they need. Since many of the youth who walk through our doors are parents, we are thankful for the willingness of ECFE to support them in their journey to leave their status of homeless - including that status for their child - in their past.
Community Partner Spotlight: Thrivent Financial North Central Associates

Many companies give back. At Thrivent Financial, they help people live generously. Their members offer hope, reach out to those in despair and show God's love in amazing ways. As a membership organization of Christians, Thrivent Financial has been helping members blend faith, finances and generosity for more than 100 years. Today Thrivent offers more than 2 million members a broad range of products, services and guidance from financial representatives nationwide.

Thrivent Financial's North Central Associates have been a significant partner to HOPE 4 Youth since day one. This partnership was in the spotlight at the recent Inspiring HOPE Luncheon, where as a sponsor, they were able to say a few words to the audience. One of the many benefits that Thrivent Financial members receive is the ability to do action teams, where they create a project to serve their community and receive $250 in seed money for that project. The North Central Associates staff members set up a homeless kit assembly line so that as people came into the luncheon, they were able to pack a bag or two for homeless youth. Kits contained needed items for the new season such as insect repellent, sunscreen, a water bottle, and a mini pillow with special handmade pillowcases for each one. 

To learn more about becoming a Thrivent member and hosting your own action teams, get in touch with these amazing partners to HOPE 4 Youth by clicking on their name above.

Volunteer Spotlight: Randy Kadrie

Randy Kadrie has only been volunteering at HOPE 4 Youth for a few months, but he has already made a huge impact on the organization. He first became aware of HOPE 4 Youth through conversations with a good friend in late 2015. Randy was completely unaware of the number of homeless youth in our community and the conversations remained on his mind so he started donating monies on a regular basis.  As 2016 neared an end, he planned to retire and wanted to focus on giving back to those in need from a personal time and effort perspective. Randy met with Cheri Halek, our Community Engagement Manager, in February 2017 to learn more about getting involved at HOPE 4 Youth and he says, “the rest is history …”

Randy volunteers anywhere from three to five shifts a week between the Drop-In Center and HOPE Place, not including stopping by for special projects like hanging signage at Drop-In Center or fixing ceiling tile gaps at HOPE Place. A typical shift for Randy really isn’t that typical. When he is at HOPE Place, he spends time with the residents. This includes talking one-on-one or with a few residents at a time, or while playing a cards or board games. When the residents are in their apartments or away at school or work, he monitors the front desk and performs any administrative needs that need to be cared for. While Mentoring at the Drop-In Center, he says, “it's really about spending time with the youth.” This might be assisting the youth with finding shelter or a bed for the night, discussing employment opportunities with them and/or assisting them with the Food Pantry and Clothing Closet.  He adds, “it’s about letting the youth know we are here for them, we want to assist them as we can in their needs and help them define their personal goals.” And as a Meals Captain, he coordinates a monthly meal for the Drop-In Center with members from his church, St. Stephen's in Anoka.

Randy has seen first-hand the impact the HOPE 4 Youth has on the youth that we serve. He says, “In the few months that I've been involved it's amazing to see the opening of HOPE Place with 12 residents now having a safe environment to live, and having access to individuals and programs who continue to assist these residents moving forward in their education and employment opportunities, as well as essential life skills.” At the Drop-In Center, he’s heard the real-life stories about how Mentors and Case Workers have assisted many youth. This has caused him to see homelessness youth from a very different perspective.  “This is a very real and the number of homeless youth is alarming. Each of these young people have purpose and potential in their lives,” he says. “I want to be involved in efforts that will help youth understand their purpose and assist them in ways I can, helping them achieving their potential, especially during these early years in their lives. “

Randy wants the youth to know that, “we care, that's why we're here. I cannot pretend to fully know or understand because I haven't been there. However, HOPE 4 Youth, is here to help you, to listen to you, to assist you in establishing and achieving your goals, helping you achieve your potential.”

Upcoming Events

  • Pizza Ranch Fundraiser
    Monday, June 19; 5-9 p.m.
    Pizza Ranch in Andover
    Join Captain Jack Sparrow and his Mates for the annual Pizza Ranch Community Impact Fundraiser benefiting HOPE 4 Youth! Ten percent of sales for the evening and 100% of the tips are donated to HOPE 4 Youth. Our goal is to raise $1,200 that evening. For more information, visit the event page here.
    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 
    in Brooklyn Park
    Hit the links for HOPE 4 Youth! The Heartland Tire Classic Golf Tournament raises funds to pay the mortgage of HOPE Place. 
    For more information or to register, visit HeartlandTireClassic.com.
  • The Darkest Night of Your Life 4K
    Saturday, September 23; 8-11 p.m.
    Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids
    The Darkest Night of Your Life 4K supports HOPE Place, HOPE 4 Youth's transitional housing program. For more information, visit HOPE4YouthMN.org/4K.

  • Hunt 4 HOPE Pheasant Hunt
    Friday, September 29; 8 a.m.-noon
    Wild Wings of Oneka in Hugo
    More information will be available soon.

  • Carnival 4 HOPE Gala
    Saturday, October 7, 2017
    Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park
    The Carnival 4 HOPE Gala is an evening of dinner, auctions, games, raffle and featured guests to benefit HOPE 4 Youth. This year's featured guest, Jimmy Wayne, Award Winning Musician, New York Times Best Selling Author and Keynote Speaker, will be sharing his story about aging out of the foster system and becoming homeless. He’ll also be showcasing his musical talents. To sponsor the gala, reserve a table or purchase individual tickets, visit HOPE4YouthMN.org/Gala.

To learn more about upcoming events, click here.

HOPE 4 Youth in the News

To read past articles about HOPE 4 Youth, click here.

Event Wrap-Up
Thank you to everyone who attended the inaugural Inspiring HOPE Luncheon! Your support helped us raise more than $20,000 which allows us to guide young people experiencing homelessness through the process of rebuilding their lives so that they can achieve a future they have always dreamed of!  Learn more about this year's Inspiring HOPE Luncheon, watch the program in its entirety and view photos here.
Thank you to all the donors who gave towards the Kris Lindahl Team match - you raised $11,690, including the $5,000 match. Thank you as well to the Kris Lindahl Team donating $5,000 to help shut the door on youth homelessness!
Apex Efficiency Solutions surprised us with a check for $8,000 from their foundation to help us continue the changing the life trajectories of young people experiencing homelessness.
Our friends at the Spring Lake Park Lions Club donated $10,000 towards our Raise the Roof Campaign - to help us cover the costs of a new roof at HOPE Place!
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 the 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 closet, 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 the north metro suburbs. Twelve young people are calling HOPE Place home while they develop the skills they need to become independent, self-sufficient adults.
HOPE 4 Youth Needs
Without the support of the community, we would not be able to meet the needs of the young people who walk through our doors each and every day.

There are many opportunities to help and donating items is one way of doing so.  We accept seasonal, clean, new or gently-used clothing (no tears or stains) for young adults, as well as nonperishable food and personal care items. Click here to see our Top Needs List. A list of essentials that we always need can be on our here.

We also appreciate receiving office and event supplies including copy paper, labels, name tags, manila folders, etc., which provide budget relief for our operations. You can find our current needs on our Amazon Wish List. Don’t forget to use Amazon Smile when you checkout - a percentage of your purchase will be donated back to HOPE 4 Youth.

While you're at it, why not consider getting your network involved by holding a donation drive? You could ask for items on our Top Needs List, Amazon Wish List or cash and gift cards. To learn more about donation drives, email our Donations Drives Lead, Marina, at donationsdrives@hope4youthmn.org.

P.S. Our greatest need continues to be  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

Recent Community Partners

Lisa Jacobson Executive Director

Joyce Finch Development Associate

Cheri Halek Community Engagement Manager

Sara Kemp Director of Programs & Properties

Jane Schipper Finance & HR Manager

Kristin VanHeel Marketing & Comm. Director

Anna Worel Special Events Coordinator

Eddie R. Case Manager

Linda Burt HOPE Place Admin. Support

Brooke Limanen HOPE Place Admin. Support
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