KEYC - Jefferson Award Winner Helps Homeless Youth

Jefferson Award Winner Helps Homeless Youth

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Mankato -

For the growing number of homeless youth in Greater Mankato help is within reach.

A facility on 2nd Street near downtown Mankato offers more than shelter and clothes.

Donnette Wheelock says, “This is a safe, fun space with a lot of laughter. Some think it’s a depressing place and there are a lot of hard stories here but it’s about hope and helping.”

Donnette volunteers at The Reach, a drop in shelter for homeless youth.

Donnette spreads the word about the shelter, but the first challenge, she says, is helping people understand the need.

Donnette says,  “Many people have no idea there are homeless teenagers in Mankato. So  I talk about it all the time. I tell my dentist, I tell my doctor, whoever will listen.”

The Reach opened in Mankato four years ago, Donnette started really getting involved two years ago providing food for the “On My Own “ classes. Classes that help teach the kids life skills. And she has spent time organizing the donation room where kids aren’t looking for a handout, they’re looking for a hand up.

Donnette says,  “These kids just need a level playing field. They have gone through so much, things we can’t even imagine. So if we can level the playing field just a little and help out even if it’s just with a personal care item. The other day I helped a young lady find clothes for her  job.”

The youth served by The Reach certainly know how to give themselves.

Donnette says, “I received a thank you card from one youth and I read it and it made me cry, and I had my sister read it and it made her cry, so I keep that on my refrigerator to remind me of why I do this.”

Donnette Wheelock, a KEYC Jefferson Good People award recipient.

 --- KEYC News 12