Everyday, there are approximately 6,000 youth ages 16-24 in Minnesota that will be without a home. As you read this, these youth are trying to find their next meal and locate a safe place to sleep. The likelihood is high that these vulnerable youth will experience untreated mental health disorders, struggle with substance use, engage in survival sex or trafficking, become victims of violent crime, or complete suicide.
Youth experiencing housing instability and homelessness are resilient and motivated. They may be attending high school while sleeping in a car or trying to hold down a job while couch surfing. Youth report the hardest barrier they face when leaving homelessness is a lack of stable employment. Maintaining work without a permanent home and the soft skills that are attractive to employers can make it difficult for young people to gain the income needed to leave homelessness.
Wildflyer Coffee is a nonprofit coffee company that addresses this barrier and works to end youth homelessness by offering dignified employment support to youth aged 16-24. Through a 6-month employment and life skills training program, youth develop the personal and professional skills they need to find employment and housing stability. They are supported in their journeys out of homelessness for good.
"I'm proud that I've worked on my anger. I used to be angry all the time, and I'd lose jobs and relationships because of it. Now I've been at Wildflyer for six months and haven't had any outbursts. I've really worked on it, and being at a job for this long is proof that I'm succeeding."
When Koliesha first started with us, she shared that her most significant challenge in maintaining employment was her struggle with anger. She often lost her temper at work, resulting in conflict with management and ultimately being let go. By the time she started with us, this struggle with losing control had already caused her several jobs. We experienced this challenge almost immediately when an intense conflict erupted at the cart.
However, through employment coaching and life skills classroom sessions, Koliesha was able to start cultivating new skills to help her manage emotions better on the job. She has been successful in doing so, having realized that her time at Wildflyer is the longest she’s maintained employment in one place!
She was successful in doing so because recently, she realized that her time at Wildflyer is the longest she's maintained employment in one place.
For Koliesha, having dignified work led to remarkable changes in her life and well-being. She reports, "I've learned how to control my anger better. I have better relationships now and am not getting into trouble at school or work."
The youth we employ at Wildflyer have experienced trauma, abuse, and rejection, which has a significant impact on how they view themselves and what they think they can accomplish. By providing opportunities to cultivate skills that lead to independence, you help young people grow in confidence, pride, and hope for their future. Koliesha's personal and professional growth is just one more example of why we believe so strongly in the power of dignified employment.