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Serving homeless families

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“My 6-year old son told me about a conversation he had with his teacher.  She asked him where he was living and he told her he lived in Cambridge. The teacher then asked if they had found an apartment.  

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“My son told her, “No, but Jesus is letting us stay in his church.”

— A story shared with New Pathways

Imagine you are a young child and you do not know where you will be staying tonight.

Imagine you hope you will have food, but probably not.

Imagine you hope they find a bed to sleep in, but it will probably be the car again.

Imagine you wish you didn't have to go to a gas station to use the bathroom. You hate nights when you have to wait.

The concern of being homeless in Minnesota is a reality for many. According to Wilder Research, more than 20,000 people were served by homeless programs in Minnesota in 2010. This number does not account for all families, only those who received services.

In rural Minnesota, many families fly under the radar of this research. Families and individuals bounce from home to home with family and friends, which is termed “couch hopping” therefore, the number of homeless persons is more than likely much greater than we can imagine.

With a growing number of persons experiencing homelessness, New Pathways, Inc. serves homeless families with children. New Pathways has a mission to ensure that the homeless population, specifically families with children, has resources, skills, and assistance necessary to thrive. We offer secure transitional shelter to homeless families with children. We help homeless families with children learn and develop the skills necessary to secure and maintain appropriate housing. 

These services are made possible through the Interfaith Hospitality Network also called IHN. The Brainerd site partners with 18 churches and hundreds of volunteers who provide hospitality in the form of home-cooked meals, added support system, and private sleeping rooms.  

Under program guidelines, families are expected to meet with the case manager to create appropriate action plans. Action plans include a list of goals (i.e. housing, employment, counseling, job/school training, etc.) and concrete steps to reach those goals. Most work is done at the Family Day Center where families can access internet computers, low-income housing lists, and a guest phone for business inquiries.

The Brainerd site has an on-site family educator, who assists families with skills building. An educational plan is developed with each family including a list of goals (i.e. parenting, budgeting, interviewing skills, etc.) with specific steps to reach each goal. New Pathways works with community agencies, such as local school districts, which provides assistance with basic education skills, meeting GED requirements, and child development.

Families can stay with us for a temporary stay enabling them to become self-sufficient again. We serve up to six families at one time not to exceed 18 persons, a small portion of the estimated 20+ thousand homeless persons in Minnesota. 

New Pathways is the only shelter in the lakes area for homeless families. 

New Pathways would like to invite you to visit our day center at 714 South Sixth St. today between 3-5 p.m. Wednesday. Staff  will be available to answer questions and give tours of the day center. Help us build awareness in our community of the needs of so many families and children that are experiencing homelessness by finding out how you can make a difference.

Please participate a short survey to help us better understand the need for awareness at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/26HR5T9.  

ANGELA KINGBIRD is a program manager for New Pathways, Inc.

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Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.
(218) 855-5878
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