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Center will offer hope, services to St. Cloud's homeless youth

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On any given night, there are an estimated 125 to 150 people between the ages of 16 and 23 who are homeless in St. Cloud.

Some area service clubs plan to offer those youth a place to get out of the cold and connect to resources during the daytime.

"They're sleeping in alleys or in cars or on someone's couch, or worse yet, selling their bodies to get out of the weather," said Tim Wensman, president and board chair of the Pathways 4 Youth project.

St. Cloud-area Rotary clubs are partnering with Anoka-based Hope 4 Youth to open the opportunity center. It will be open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and will provide social services, lockers, showers, laundry facilities and a hot meal, plus computers to search for employment or education opportunities.

"Hopefully we can stabilize the youth from their trauma that they may have when they come in and then help put them on a path for educational opportunities or living wage employment opportunities that could make them contributing members to the community," Wensman said.

The center will not be a place to hang out or sleep, he said. It's expected about 20-25 youth will use the center daily.

Wensman said organizers are aware that they might be facing many challenges related to family trauma, addiction and mental health. 

"We'll have to be prepared to have the people and the professionals at the site that can deal with all of these issues," he said.

Wensman says the Rotary club is raising funds and hopes to open the center in February.