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Community Invited to Support Youth Experiencing Homelessness in Rochester

Garden Fair set for June 3 at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On any given night in Minnesota, an estimated 6,000 youth on their own, age 24 and younger, experience homelessness. Lutheran Social Service (LSS) of Minnesota offers guidance and support to help young people regain stability. On June 3, the community is invited to join the effort to transition youth from crisis to success by attending a Garden Fair to benefit the organization’s services for youth including Living Independently with Knowledge (LINK).

The fifth annual Garden Fair, located at the Olmsted County History Center, will include concessions and vendors offering garden art, flower and vegetable plants, and various products for experienced or amateur gardeners. Kids can enjoy food, games, animals, and crafts. Funds from the Garden Fair will be utilized to keep food and personal hygiene items on hand for youth in need. Additionally, Garden Fair donations can help youth realize their dreams of finding stable work or moving into an apartment by providing assistance with necessary household items, professional clothing, and shoes. 

“The number of youth who are alone and facing homelessness in Rochester continues to grow,” said Marcy Vale, youth outreach worker for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “Without community support, our ability to meet basic needs of youth is greatly challenged. We are very grateful for the community’s involvement in our work to empower youth and help set them on a pathway to stability.”

In 2016, LSS Rochester Youth Programs provided supportive services to more than 350 youth. For nearly two decades, LINK has served as a lifeline to unaccompanied youth experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness by providing life skills classes, peer support groups, transitional housing assistance, and street outreach. Outreach workers offer emotional support while connecting youth to safe shelter and help with immediate basic needs, such as food, clothing, hygiene supplies, bus tokens, and first aid supplies.

“It is imperative to work together to educate, mentor, and support the youth in our community, especially young people who are facing significant challenges to becoming productive and successful,” said Lorrie Alberts, youth advocate and volunteer.  “The annual Garden Fair is a fun way to raise awareness of youth homelessness and support young adults as they overcome trials and work towards creating brighter futures for themselves.”

This year’s Garden Fair vendors and community partners include: Thrivent Financial, The CW Rochester, Smith Brothers, Kooky Concessions, Midnight Munchies, Mark O’Byrne, Liddle Bee, LLC, Steel & Vine Designs, Gardenaire, The Treehouse, Glacial Lake Organics, Phyllis Maloney, Harvest Master, Inc, Eclectic Cupboard, Rags to Rugs, Master Gardeners, Rochester Flower and Garden, Uniquely Hosta, Homemade Goods by Dorothy, and Patricia Tolmie.

The Garden Fair is accepting donations of non-perishable food items, paper products or cleaning supplies to help stock LINK’s pantry that supports youth experiencing homelessness in the Rochester and surrounding communities. For more information, please contact Lorrie Alberts at 507.358.5680.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,300 employees and 8,000 volunteers, LSS helps one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives, and build community. Statewide, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults. For comprehensive information about the work of LSS, visit