AveNEWS December 2018

6,000 youth in Minnesota won't have a stable home tonight. 
Together we can help. 

Check Out Our New Events Calendar For Upcoming Events
Every third Thursday of the month Avenues is hosting an open house and conversation at both shelters. Anyone is invited to come - we promise you'll leave feeling inspired and learn about youth homelessness. This is not a fundraiser but an opportunity to learn more about our work and to see what your support has gone to. More information here.  

December's open house has been canceled and will restart in the New Year. 
Announcing Our New Space In Camden: Camden Avenues
This month our host home programs will move from St. Paul to a new home in Camden, Minneapolis! We are renting a beautiful space from Camden Pillsbury United Communities - right along the 5 bus route. We're eager to build our relationship with Pillsbury United, and to share the space with young people, hosts and community. 
Avenues host home programs and Avenues for Young Families will share the space. Once we're settled, we'll restart drop in hours. We'll be moving on December 27 and our new address is 1200 37th Avenue North. 
Thank you for a fun two years of being neighbors, RECLAIM! We appreciate your partnership, and are looking forward to continuing to work with you. 
This Month 

Thank you to the surgery center staff at Regions Hospital for hosting a donation drive for Avenues! Thanks to their generosity, every youth got a $20 Target gift card in addition to their holiday gifts. Thank you! 
This month the Imperial Court of Minnesota raised money and awareness for LGBTQ youth homelessness at their pageant. Thank you for thinking of us this holiday season! 
Thank you Stonewall Sports Minneapolis for making us the beneficiary of your end of season party. We appreciate you and all that you do for youth experiencing homelessness! 

Thank you Schuler Shoes in Maple Grove for sharing the love with us this holiday season. The store donated 10% of sales to Avenues on one day this month, over $1,500 in support. Thank you! 
Diversified Plastics, West Metro Fire Auxiliary, and Retail Merchandise Services collected gift cards and presents for youth this month. Thank you for spreading the holiday spirit!  
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  Avenues for Homeless Youth

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

With the days about to start getting longer and the new year almost here, I am thinking about renewal. Watching the amazing journeys that youth like Messiah are on renews my belief in the resilience of the young people we support. They have been through so much, but they continue to fight for their dreams, themselves and the ones they love. The outpouring of holiday gifts and volunteers renews my faith that as a community we can come together to ensure that all young people can achieve their dreams. Witnessing the amazing work that Avenues staff does every day renews my conviction that, in the words of Program Manager Bryce Jones, "there's good people in the world." I am honored and privileged to work with some of the best.

As you celebrate this season of renewal, please consider a year-end gift to Avenues. Together we can help dreams come true!


Katherine Meerse, Ph.D. 
Executive Director 
What Being A Leader Means To Messiah

"I'm leaving work, about to get on the bus to go home, and I hear gun shots and people screaming. So I go up the street and I know the thirteen year old who got shot," Messiah* said. "It's been a life struggle (violence) but I stay strong. I have 10 little siblings to look after. I have to be a leader for them." 

Messiah's been living at Avenues for seven months. He grew up living in the Brooklyn Park area, and eventually moved to Minneapolis with his 12-person family. He's twenty-years-old and about to open his own Jackson Hewitt branch in North Minneapolis.

"My mom worked at H&R Block. I was eighteen and I was like, Mom, I don't want to do taxes. I don't want to sit in an office. Sitting in an office would be the worse thing I could ever do," Messiah explained. "It's not like that anymore."

"I saw the secrets of doing taxes and all the details like financials and five year planning. I find it exciting. I love it - it's like a story that you can make the ending you want happen," Messiah said. 

Messiah's in the process of opening his store. He's hiring employees to help him with the upcoming tax season and working twelve hour days. It's a labor for love though. He dreams of buying his mom a house in a neighborhood that's safer, of being a millionaire by twenty-five, and making the best life for his little siblings.  

"My legacy is about my family. I don't live for myself - I live for my family. I will not let them go through what I've gone through. Christmas is coming and they don't know what they're about to get. Christmas this year is going to be great for them," Messiah said, talking about the holiday gifts he's gotten for his siblings.

Thank You For Making Our Holidays Bright! 

This month volunteers wrapped holiday gifts for 60 youth and families across our programs - over 600 presents! The youth are so excited to unwrap. They ask staff daily if they can have their gifts. 
Over 25 volunteers wrapped the gifts in record time. Thank you for spending your morning with us, we and the youth appreciate it. We'd like to give a special thank you to Brookdale Covenant Church, for hosting our wrapping party, and The Church of St. Gerard Majella for helping organize the event and making it run smoothly. 
We'd also like to thank the donors who filled youth holiday wish lists, collected general supplies, and overall made this month overwhelming joyful. Thank you AEI Capital Corporation, Graybar, Topline Fedral Credit Union, Prince of Peace Church, Margaret Cargill Philanthropy, LifeSource, Andie Olthoff, Mary Thomas, Lisa Finstad, East Ride Raptors, Mike Lewis, Peggy Meerse, Alerus, Jody Grieger and Dortha Krieglmeier for adopting youth holiday wish lists. 

From Left: Makeda Lacking, Bryce Jones, and Shennika Sudduth 

A Heartwarming Surprise for Coach Jones

"I don't do well with surprises. My fight or flight mode kicks in and I think I was in flight mode," Bryce Jones, Avenues Transitional Housing Program Manager, said with a laugh. 

Bryce, who also works at East Ridge High School as the varsity defensive line football coach, was surprised by a secret donation drive this month. The East Ridge Raptors raised nearly $2,000 in donations, filled 11 youth holiday wish lists, and shopped Avenues Amazon wish list for fun items like a karaoke machine. They held the drive in secret, surprising Coach Jones at their annual football banquet this month. Avenues staff, Makeda Lacking and Shennika Sudduth, also surprised him at the banquet.  

"I was trying to do my speech and I saw Makeda and Miss Shennika in the back of the room - I truly did not know what to think," Bryce said.  "They do that type of surprise and just like that, oh wow, well it humbles you. Humbles you quick and fast. This is amazing."

Bryce says that the one thing he's tried to teach every East Ridge player, and youth at Avenues, is that youth in the suburbs are no different than youth in the inner city. Young people want the same thing and are all battling the same feelings, even if their circumstances are different. 

"On my way home (from the banquet) I definitely teared up just because at moments you just don't know if there's good people in the world," Bryce said. "It's hard to see. When you do see it it's just a moment to give you so much hope."