I'm biking cross-country to raise funds for a vital resource for homeless youth in Minneapolis. blog at www.abbiacrossamerica.wordpress.com!

The first time I thought about homelessness was in November of 2001. My youth group slept outside on the sidewalk of our suburban church, with cardboard box forts as shelter. In the morning I crawled from a snow-covered box and returned into the warm church to await a ride home. Ten years later, as I complete my third year in Minneapolis, my view has changed so much.

In this city, there are people who go to work, go out with friends, are able to buy groceries regularly and maybe talk to their parents on the phone once in a while, just to catch up.

In this city, there are people who must work to find each meal, lack a support network and have little or no contact with their parents due to abuse, addiction, or any number of circumstances. There are over 2000 homeless youth on any given night in the state of Minnesota.

Fortunately for the latter, help exists. Places like Avenues provide counseling, structure and stability, and the bed and meals many of us take for granted every day. My goal is to bring awareness to the efforts being made to alleviate and someday eliminate youth homelessness, and raise general funds for Avenues to continue its various programs, which extend beyond simply preparing homeless youth aged 16-20 for their transition into adult life. Avenues offers transitional housing for up to 25 youth each night, up to 10 of whom are members of the GLBT community. Their suburban host program aims to place homeless youth in areas outside Minneapolis proper, which both extends the number of beds Avenues is able to offer, and will raise homelessness awareness in suburban areas.

I care about homelessness because I have never experienced it, and I know how completely blessed I am for that fact. I care about getting teens who have lived too close to addiction or abuse the counseling and support they need, because I have.

If those of us in the latter group--those who buy groceries regularly, go to mom's for lunch sometimes, and have a steady job--took time to ponder that not everyone falls asleep at night surrounded by four walls, on top of a mattress and under a roof...

No, it's maybe not feasible to give up every spare room in your house. It is DEFINITELY possible to budget for a donation to Avenues.

In addition to, or instead of, making a one-time donation at this site, please consider pledging money per mile. I'm making a 3500+ mile trip. Figure out what works best for you, and contact me at abbiacrossamerica@gmail.com if a one-time donation on this site does not work for you.

To read more about my bike trip, visit me at www.abbiacrossamerica.wordpress.com, where I'll be updating as often as I can.

Thank you in advance for helping Minnesota's homeless youth.

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