Listen: When I stopped by the Pathfinders Drop In Center (located off Capitol on Holton) for the first time, as I’d never been there before, I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a safe space for homeless and runaway youth to find respite and resources, so I had a few vague notions, but nothing too definite. I turned on my mic right before walking through the front door, and this is how I was greeted:
That’s the sound of staff and their youth playing Spades. Despite the everyday challenges of homelessness, the impact of camaraderie and consistent relationships can be incredibly deep (much more on these two themes later this week). I met a few teenagers who regularly use the services of the Pathfinders Drop-In Center, and they certainly felt at home with the staff and in that space. The first youth I met was Erica: see podcast below.
Erica really does have that average teenager/amazing person duality going on, and it may be best exhibited in her American Idol aspirations. Yes, American Idol has been a pop culture juggernaut for almost a decade. However, Erica’s interest goes beyond getting her face on television for a fleeting moment — she’s got chops. Because I have no problem putting other people in awkward situations, I asked her to sing something for me, and here’s what happened:
Just to clarify what happens at the end there — we were using an office adjacent to the common space. As soon as Erica started singing, Listen for more from the Drop-In Center this week!
Want to learn more? You can check out the Pathfinders Website here and thentheir sub-site for the drop in center. You can also read wonderful articles from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the Pathfinders Shelter (from Felcia Thomas-Lynn) and the Drop-In Center (from Erin Richards).