After entering the Pathways 4 Youth building you will read the following sentence, printed on a staircase: “Every journey begins with a single step.”
No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve likely had to remind yourself that this is true. Overwhelmed with family obligations, paychecks, classes, or the prospect of new change on the horizon, life can be… well… tough.
Taking this first step may seem simple, but it also takes a lot of courage. It means asking for help and relying on others for support.
This is my second post highlighting one of UniteCloud’s partners, and it prompted me to think about “partnership” in a different way – as in accompanying and being a partner to fellow human beings.
The past week I talked to Jim Magnuson, the Community Engagement & Volunteer Coordinator at Pathways 4 Youth, a service of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. Through our conversation I learned more about this influential organization, as well as what it means to reach out and assist other people.
Pathways 4 Youth is a resource center for youth ages 16 to 24 experiencing or at-risk of homelessness in St. Cloud. They provide a multitude of services: a storage space for personal goods, clothing closet, food pantry, education planning, mentorship opportunities, career path and employment assistance, housing referrals, connections to area resources, and access to case workers who offer guidance and planning for the future. Importantly, it offers young people a place to be.
A vital part of their mission is to welcome all, no matter race, religion, sexual orientation, or where you are in life. Pathways 4 Youth aims at providing dignity to every person who walks in the door as they accept, love, care, and meet each individual where they are at today.
So where does partnership fit in?
Magnuson emphasized how it is through community partnerships that Pathways 4 Youth can offer such a wide variety of services. Donations come from various businesses as well as individuals. There are also opportunities to create community awareness by working with churches or other organizations, like UniteCloud.
But it was most interesting hearing about how Pathways 4 Youth is being a partner to those who visit the center by not only offering direct services and provisions, but also guidance and open-minded encouragement. After all, many youth walk into the center with various, mounting obstacles, not knowing where to begin. But as Magnuson stated: “We’ll walk side by side with them on their journey and we will build them up,” no matter how long it takes.
As Magnuson pointed out, however, the partnership isn’t only one-way: “Every day that I go home from Pathways 4 Youth, I am personally rewarded…to see one smile, to see one step, to see one youth making a move forward and feeling more confident is a kind of reward you won’t get anywhere else.”
We can all make an impact on the lives of those around us. Just ask how someone’s day is going or put down your phone to ask how someone is feeling. These may seem like simple, meaningless acts. Nonetheless, they are reminders that we do not exist alone but in a community.
You can learn more about Pathways 4 Youth by visiting their Facebook andInstagram pages,or by visiting their website at: https://www.pathways4youthmn.org/.