The Edina Challenge is an on-going collaborative effort led by the Edina Community Foundation to ensure that disadvantaged youth in Edina have every opportunity for success. When the Edina Challenge was started in 2013, team members worked to identify the barriers to success for the 750 Edina kids who qualified for free or reduced priced meals. While many of these families have a stable home life, a number of these kids deal with homelessness, lack of nutritional food (especially on the weekends), lack of a mentor in their lives, and difficulty being physically active.
Each month we will spotlight one of the Edina Challenge partners, most of which need volunteers to help carry out their vision. This month we are sharing the story behind Oasis for Youth.
Oasis for Youth is located in Bloomington and serves youth 16-24 years of age who live, work or attend school in Bloomington, Richfield and Edina, though no kids in need are turned away. Oasis for Youth opens doors to housing, employment, education and wellness for youth facing homelessness in the suburbs.
Youth can visit Oasis during drop-in hours (2-5 p.m. weekdays) or set up a meeting with a case manager to address their specific needs. Oasis for Youth’s drop-in center operates out of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church in Bloomington at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Old Shakopee Road.
Oasis offers basic needs, such as:
- free clothing and hygiene products
- showers and laundry facilities
- support to find food and housing resources
- help with transportation
- connections to physical and mental health resources
- job search assistance, and
- connections to caring adults.
Oasis also conducts school- and community-based outreach, including at Edina High School and other areas in Edina where young people spend time. Outreach case managers are able to provide mobile, immediate assistance to any young person who may need help.
Oasis for Youth was established by community members as an all-volunteer response to address the barriers and lack of services for the rising number of suburban youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Oasis for Youth opened its doors in July 2010 as an innovative, entrepreneurial and grassroots intervention. Since 2010, Oasis has experienced tremendous growth, adding three additional programs. Youth made 90 visits to the Drop-in Center in the first year. In 2107, youth made over 2,500 visits, and Oasis is serving 300 young people annually across its programs.
There are many ways to help: prepare a meal, help with fundraising events, coordinate a donation drive at your school or church, or fundraise specifically for Oasis for Youth. For more information, please visit https://www.oasisforyouth.org/volunteer/. You can find a list of Oasis for Youth's immediate needs at https://www.oasisforyouth.org/wishlist/
For more information on Oasis for Youth, visit their website at www.oasisforyouth.org.