At-risk youth find support at Face to Face

Demand for their services on the rise

(Photo by Ethan Horace)

Face to Face, funded by the United Way, has been helping young people in need since 1972, particularly runaway, homeless, and at-risk youth. Many of the services provided by Face to Face are free of charge and available to youth as young as 11 years old.

Face to Face has found success in basing their work on respectful relationships with their youth, staff volunteers, and community members. For over 40 years they have aspired to be the leading organization in the Twin Cities where youth can find information to better themselves as well as the community.

The organization has gone through many changes over the years. Beginning as a crisis call-in center during the early 1970s, Face to Face now serves over 3,000 youth annually with multiple support services to youth in need. The growing demand for their services from young clients has caused Face to Face to grow continuously since their opening over 40 years ago.

Services at Face to Face range from free health services to a food shelf, on-site clothing closet, shower and laundry, counseling and more. In-need youth can also find other resources such as job listings and housing resources.

The organization experienced some hardship back in 2016 while awaiting funding for their Safe Zone Drop-in Center. However, enough money was raised and the Center had its ribbon cutting on April 13, 2016, opening shortly thereafter.

The Safe Zone Drop-in Center, located in downtown St. Paul, serves as a hub for 14-to-20-year-olds who need immediate help. It is open Monday through Saturday.

The Center has been a major success since its opening. Many youth have called the location “a safe place” and “full of support.” Many also recall their enjoyment of the free yoga classes Face to Face offers.

As the organization continues to see rising numbers in the young people they are helping each year, the need for volunteers has increased as well. Volunteers have been an essential part of the organization’s major success, along with the donations of many kindhearted people over the years.

One of the many success stories at the organization comes from Gabrielle. At the age of 17, Gabrielle came to Face to Face looking for help. Coming from a background of a heroin-addicted mother and an alcoholic father, Gabrielle needed real help. She was on the run from a group home where she had lived.

She built trust with Face to Face staff and was assigned a case manager. To meet her goals, Gabrielle started independent living classes and obtained her state ID, as well as making a health and medical plan. Even though she has more work to do, Gabrielle’s progress to date is encouraging.

Another success story comes from Rachel, who was couch-hopping and unemployed by the time she came into contact with Face to Face. Her mother didn’t approve of her lesbian lifestyle and she was kicked out of her mother’s home. She came to the Safe Zone and was assigned a case manager. Housing and employment goals were set in place.

Based on Rachel’s homeless status at the time, her mother was trying to gain parental rights and custody of Rachel’s son. Motivated to keep her son, Rachel filled out applications every day at Face to Face and was able to find a $13/hour job and housing. The support from Face to Face facilitated her transition into a more self-sufficient life.

Face to Flace plans on increasing access to medical services, mental health care, and other basic needs for Minnesota youth. Part of that includes working to end social inequities that limit access to services needed by today’s youth.

For over 30 years their mission has been to empower youth who need help and to steer them into a positive lifestyle. Many members of the community have praised Face to Face for their continued dedication to empowering the youth of Minnesota.


For more information about Face to Face, go to


Ethan Horace is a journalist and radio personality. He welcomes reader responses to