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Operation Save the Shelter: Community help needed for homeless families

New Pathways, a homeless shelter program, has been helping find housing and services for families with children in the Brainerd lakes area since 2006, but now reports it desperately needs community support.

This July, New Pathways will lose approximately half its normal operating budget due to federal Housing and Urban Development funding changes.

"We've launched a 'Save the Shelter' campaign because we still need to raise a significant amount of money to replace the $192,541 ($86,237 for the Brainerd site) in lost HUD funding," said Pamela Streed, New Pathways executive director, in a news release. "Our hope is that we will be able to preserve our current programming and continue this important work of assisting families through life's obstacles and helping them find stable housing."

Last fall, New Pathways launched its Path to Home 350 Campaign, with a goal of obtaining commitments from 350 supporters across its 10-county service area to donate $50 per month on an ongoing basis. To date, 44 individuals in the Brainerd lakes area (78 donors altogether) have made commitments, and New Pathways reported it is thankful to these supporters who stepped up immediately to help. However, more donations and ongoing support are still needed, Streed reported.

Without additional funds, New Pathways may not be able to serve as many families as it has in the Brainerd lakes area.

"We have the only shelter program specifically for families in the 10 counties that we serve, and we turn away far more families than we are able to serve, due to capacity," Streed said. "This program is absolutely necessary, but we need more financial support from the community to continue to operate as we have."

New Pathways received commitments from Hallett Charitable Trusts, Crow Wing Power Community Trust (Operation Round Up) and Brainerd Lakes Women of Today for a total of over $11,000 to match donations received in the month of May. For more information, go to www.newpathwaysmn.com.

Coffee, doughnuts and conversation

New Pathways will host open houses from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at its Day Center May 24 and June 28. Staff will be on hand to discuss homelessness in the Brainerd area, give tours of its facility and discuss the Path to Home program.

Refreshments and appetizers will also be served.

The Center in Brainerd is hosting a gathering with coffee and doughnuts 7:30-9 a.m. May 25. New Pathways will be there to provide information on the Path to Home program and answer questions.

Jack Pine Brewery is hosting Operation Save the Shelter night 5-8 p.m. May 30. For every pint sold, they will donate $1 to New Pathways, and other co-sponsors will do the same.

Donations may be made online at www.newpathwaysmn.com or by mailing them to New Pathways at 512 S. Eighth St., No. 2, Brainerd, MN, 56401.

About New Pathways

New Pathways can shelter six families at a time in the Brainerd program, which includes up to 18 individuals on any given night. Since its inception, New Pathways' Brainerd location has served 437 families, including 731 children. Last year, 68 of the individuals served were children under the age of 18. In that same year, New Pathways turned away 80 families due to being at capacity.

Families come to New Pathways when they do not have a place to live and need help creating a plan to get back into stable housing. The Brainerd day center is housed in the lower level of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Brainerd. At the day center, New Pathways reports families are given a warm, safe place to stay, access to shower and laundry facilities, and the opportunity to work with a case manager on a plan to get back into permanent housing. At night, the families stay at one of 25 local partner churches, where they are served meals and given a safe place to sleep.

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