Stop Think Feel

Erase Your Park Bench Picture


It feels like every other hour, you hear the phone ring.
“I can do an intake with you today. I’ll stay late if I need to so you can get here,” a case manager is overheard saying to the youth on the other end of the line.
The end of the eviction moratorium keeps the phone ringing, again and again. You can’t keep up with the calls, flowing in one after another, seemingly endless asks of you. When a space isn’t within reach, the cold bites a bit harsher at your ears and nose, a reminder that you get to go home after work while others do not.
Every single evening in Minnesota, over 6,000 youth find themselves with nowhere to sleep.
Youth in our communities need your support, and Avenues for Youth is one way to support them. Avenues for Youth partners with youth experiencing homelessness to achieve their dreams.
Care, housing, support, partnership. Avenues for Youth (alongside their fellow housing nonprofits) partners with youth in the Greater Twin Cities Metro area, creating a space for youth to call home, whether it be one night or 18 months. Youth have in-home access to a physician, a therapist, and many other opportunities.
While all of this is good and helpful, Avenues sees youth homelessness in a different light. Erase the “homeless youth on a park bench” picture you have in your head and replace it.
Replace it with a picture of the student in your class, getting straight As and holding her head up high.
Replace it with the elite musician, highly advanced and passionate.
Replace it with the waiter who brings you your food every Tuesday morning at your favorite morning coffee shop.
They mirror the image of yourself, community members with jobs, dreams, aspirations. Nothing sets them apart, so why as a society, do we continue to box them and their experiences in as if we have nothing to do with them?
Understanding homelessness not as a label, but as an experience, a season of someone’s life, brings about compassion a world could do with a little more of. Trauma-centered partnerships, such as the ones at Avenues, leads to youth being able to reach their dreams. Homelessness isn’t an experience procured for specific people, rather, a result of many factors, many sad, unwelcome factors.
At this point, society doesn’t need another lesson on the cycle of poverty, because we all know that digging yourself out of it is nearly impossible. Avenues doesn’t dig youth out, they hold a place for perseverance, learning, and the becoming that a youth wants to do.
To learn more and support Avenues for Youth, visit
Abha Karnick is a south Minneapolis resident with East Indian roots who graduated from Hamline University in 2019. Her passion lies in storytelling and finding moments to capture.


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