Launch Ministry is a faith-based, non-profit organization in Chaska that helps homeless and at-risk young adults between 18-29 years old learn the skills they need to make healthy, productive transitions into adulthood.
Corey Magstadt, executive director and founder, says that Launch uses several different tools to support and teach young adults. He was a pastor at a Chaska church for eight years, and that church saw a need for a young adult group that he was active in starting. “We just saw that so many of them were floundering as young adults,” Magstadt says. “We began by saying that we should do a young adult support group. The attendance was strong from the first meeting, and I began to feel that this was something I should be doing fulltime.”
At 19 years old, most people age-out of social safety net programs like foster family placement. But many young adults, especially young adults who have grown up in unstable circumstances, haven’t yet learned how to manage things like budgeting for rent, food and utilities. Many of Launch Ministry’s clients have been, or are currently, homeless. Many more are just one paycheck away from being on the street. The stress of trying to keep a roof over their heads makes a lot of the young adults who Magstadt meets feel depressed and resigned to failure.
One of the tools Launch uses to teach those management skills is called the adulting game. Participants, who meet goals, are rewarded with grocery store and gas station gift cards. “The adulting game is a way to incentivize developing skills,” Magstadt says. “The gas and grocery gift cards are very popular and work well to give them a chance to use the skills they are learning.”
Food and gas concerns are just part of the issues. Housing is expensive in the Southwest Metro, and there is no emergency homeless shelter. The reality of having no place to sleep at night is ever present in the lives of many of the people who come to Launch.
But it isn’t just practical help and advice that Launch offers. There’s the sense of community and support and spiritual guidance, too. Weekly dinners that feed hungry stomachs are also a chance to get together with other people who understand the struggles. Magstadt says that some of the language used to talk about homelessness often makes young adults, who are dealing with it, feel ashamed and hopeless. Being with and talking to people who understand how hard it is to get your feet back on the right path is important.
At this time of year, it’s particularly disheartening to think about young adults, who are struggling, but there are things you can do to bring a little holiday cheer to a Launch Ministry client, including being a Secret Santa. “The gas and grocery gift cards are always welcome,” Magstadt says. “We put together stockings to give out, and those are the favorite items.”
Volunteering to help cook and serve food during the weekly dinners is always appreciated or serving at the homeless drop-in resource center. “And things like offering a ride for a grocery store run can be a huge help,” he adds.
A simple act of kindness might really make a difference.
115 E. 4th St., Chaska
Drop-in: 2-5 p.m. Monday-Friday (closed holidays, and changes to schedule are posted on Facebook)
Free dinner: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays (program following) and 6:30 p.m. Thursdays (Celebrate Recovery following)
NEW: 2-5 p.m. Thursdays at 141 Depot Drive, Waconia (behind Trending Upward Thrift Shoppe)