We often use the term “getting out of your comfort zone” so freely that it becomes largely meaningless.
But even though NOH participants were still in a controlled environment, we got a taste of what it is like to not know exactly where you may be sleeping tonight or where and when the next meal may come from.
As the Minneapolis Downtown Council executes its Downtown 2025 Plan and Meet Minneapolis and the broader hospitality community continue the groundwork for a Tourism Master Plan launch in 2016, youth homelessness is a top priority for all of us dedicated to strengthening our community. Meet Minneapolis volunteer leaders were well-represented in the Night of Hope:
• Mayor Hodges
• Minneapolis Council Member John Quincy
• Hennepin County Commission Chair Jan Callison
• Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene
• Jeannie Joas, JB Hudson
• Steve Cramer, Minneapolis Downtown Council/DID
• Todd Klingel, Minneapolis Regional Chamber
Congressman Keith Ellison was also in attendance. He did more than give a rousing speech urging us to see these citizens not as homeless youth, but as youth who happen to be in transition. We also learned that he has been a frequent visitor of YouthLink and that many of the youth knew him by his first name and some had received personal emails from him.
Aside from the pay it forward or servant leadership perspectives which help to guide our moral compasses, we have tangible and practical reasons to be involved in seeing these young people stay on track. Cathy ten Broeke, State Director to Prevent and End Homelessness, who formerly served as the lead strategist for ending homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County, let the sleep out group know that ignoring or choosing not to deal with the root causes of youth homelessness today can end up costing society trillions of dollars over time.
I’m glad that our community leaders see the value of giving back as a natural complement to the more direct aspects of their jobs. While our Meet Minneapolis stakeholders are passionate about seeing Minneapolis become the Destination of Choice, they also agree with the Mayor, who reminded us that “we get a little piece of our humanity back” when we help others who are in need.