Mila was homeless off and on for the last few years. Living with an emotionally abusive parent, she says, “made it very hard for me to create and maintain growth and success in many different aspects of my life.”
After an especially bad fight with her parents, Mila ran – again. That night she slept outside, and the next day her friend drove her to Hope House, 180 Degrees’ Emergency Youth Shelter in Chanhassen.
Having her basic needs met, and a team of staff who empowered her, she could start focusing on her goals. “I want to be doing work that supports me financially, and that inspires me. I want to make a positive impact on the world with my life and career”.
Then, with help from a mental health counselor, Mila and her family were able to reconnect. After some important sessions of learning how to communicate with each other, they were able to agree on how to move forward -- together.
David was living in a trailer in Rochester with his six siblings, with parents who were rarely around to take care of the seven children. With a stressful and unpredictable home life, David started having trouble in class. It became increasing hard to find the motivation to study and the energy to learn. Soon, David started skipping school.
When David turned 13 years old, a social worker recognized that home wasn’t safe for him and his siblings. A foster family in the 180 Degrees network was able to take David and one of his brothers safely into their home. For two years, foster parents Sherry and Malcolm provided the steady supply of love, structure, and support they needed.
Because he was given the support and shelter at a crucial time in his life, he was able to start healing and grow into the person he is today.
Girls who have been sexually exploited arrive at Brittany’s Place in the midst of severe trauma. They are in need of clothing, food, sleep, and safety. The healing process is difficult, and math classes might seem very irrelevant in the face of their struggles, but Rhonda McGinley has made her classroom at Brittany’s Place into one of honesty, integrity, and hope.
When you step into her classroom, you see a whole bookshelf of young adult literature, and her wall has photos of her dog and children. Rhonda teaches by providing choices and outcomes to the students in her classroom. This honest approach removes the power struggle between students and teachers, giving students the ability to control things within their world. Rhonda tells her students, "Don't be embarrassed if you don't know it, but be embarrassed if you do nothing about it." This saying empowers youth to have autonomy in the outcome they hope to see.
Rhonda and her students have adapted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but distance learning has been tough. Rhonda’s curriculum is for 6th-12th grade learners who prefer face-to-face learning, but she has been working through a virtual classroom using video meetings to continue her work with her students. She also works individually with students who may not be doing so well in class.
Rhonda feels lucky every time she gets to be in the classroom. By being honest and creating a classroom where students have a lead role in their achievements, students are presented with experiences that help them open their world. They create connections with someone they didn’t know could be a supporting role in their lives; as Rhonda says, “Sometimes you develop that relationship and you don’t realize it.”
Brittany's Place is a 24/7/365 shelter for girls who are victims of commercial sex trafficking or at risk for sexual exploitation. Girls receive services specifically designed to meet their needs, address the harm caused by the trafficking, and move them toward recovery and self-efficacy.