Drop in Center Q & A with LSS Youth Services Rochester

By Cindy Martenson and Vicki Erickson

Introducing Tammy Moses and Elissa Marble

Tammy Moses is the Director of Youth Programs in Mankato and Rochester.  She has a Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Bradley University in Peoria, IL.  Tammy came to LSS in Minnesota in 2007 after spending 18 years at LSS in Illinois.    As the Director of Youth Programs, she spends time supervising the Rochester Program Manager (To be hired), grant writing, and big picture programming.  She also facilitates communication between the LSS Mankato and LSS Rochester Youth Programs.

Tammy Moses

Elissa Marble is new to LSS.  She graduated with a BA in Psychology a year ago.  While in college she had an opportunity to serve as an intern at an LSS Wisconsin Women’s Shelter and she felt it was a positive experience to use her gifts and talents.  Elissa is passionate about supporting positive growth in adolescents and she will be able to apply some of the skills she learned in college and during her internship to this work.  Elissa will be focusing on youth outreach by going where the youth hang out, such as laundromats, skyways, and parks.  She also anticipates putting up flyers informing youth about the drop-in center at Zumbro.  Elissa will be on staff at the drop-in center so she can continue to build trusting relationships with youth.

Question:  Why is the drop-in center an important part of LSS’s Ministry? 

When speaking to youth in Rochester, a drop-in center has been a consistent need.  Youth need a space where they can:

  • feel safe and come as they are
  • eat a meal
  • build relationships
  • get the resources and support they need to become more independent, such as the use of a computer to apply for a job
  • have the flexibility and fluidity to come on their own timetable to get support without the need to make an appointment

Thus, the drop-in center meets an important need for youth at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing homelessness.

Question:  How will youth learn about the drop-in center?

In addition to the work Elissa does on reaching out to homeless youth, word-of-mouth is the best advertisement for the drop-in center.  LSS works with schools and other community agencies and these agencies will inform youth of the drop-in center.  LSS plans to provide community presentations to interested groups to continue to spread the word.  LSS also has a social media presence on Facebook.

Question:  Who do you serve and what services are provided?

The drop-in center serves youth and young adults ages 16 – 24 who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  Some of these youth are parents themselves.  Their children are welcome in the drop-in center, and the parents are responsible for supervising them.

The services that are provided might include:

  • Meals
    • Finding housing and applying for rent assistance
    • Counseling
    • Independent Living Skills
    • Help with doctor appointments
    • Transportation
    • Help youth connect with resources in the community
    • Guide youth in advocating for themselves
    • Other services or classes as the need arises

Question:  What do you hope to see happening in 1 year?  5 years?

In a year, we hope to have the drop-in center completely open and functioning at full capacity, even as we may continue to live with COVID-19 concerns. 

In 5 years, we may be needing more space because the drop-in center will be a well-known community space where youth feel safe, are accepted as they are and supported.  The drop-in center will be a natural part of the Zumbro community and open communication will be the norm.  Community partners will come to the drop-in center and offer services such as hair styling or classes.

Question:  How can Zumbro support the drop-in center ministry beyond providing a meeting space?

Supportive adult relationships are key to helping youth grow and mature.  By sharing a hobby – knitting, cooking, woodworking, music, yoga, etc.., tutoring, and by helping youth get involved with the ministries of the church we can begin to build these relationships.  There may also be opportunities to provide meals for youth and support a food pantry.  To paraphrase Jesus, “When you serve others, you serve me.”  We will endeavor to see Jesus in the lives of at-risk youth and will always remain open to new ways to serve them and learn from them!

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