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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Something Bigger Out There, For All of Us

Page address: https://www.mnsu.edu/student/about/February2017.html

Rachel Hoehn at REACH

In her final weeks before graduation, Rachel Hoehn overheard some shocking statistics regarding homeless youth in the Mankato area and knew she had to do something about it.  

Rachel, a Communications major at Minnesota State University, Mankato, was creating a poster for another event when she overheard Karen Anderson, assistant director for Community Engagement, talk about the more than 300 homeless children in the Mankato school district.  Rachel wanted to make a difference, so she reached out to Karen regarding a campaign to help homeless youth. Karen suggested that she contact The REACH Youth Drop-In Center as a potential organization.

The REACH “provides a safe environment for youth where they can receive non-judgmental assistance from caring and trustworthy adults, who are knowledgeable in helping them overcome the barriers of homelessness.”  The REACH serves teens and young adults up to the age of 21 by providing them with basic necessities such as meals, a place to shower, toiletries, clothing vouchers and transportation as well as emergency services like shelter and links to public housing services.  After speaking with representatives from the Mankato school district and The REACH, Rachel launched a campaign to raise money for The REACH.

Rachel quickly set up a GoFundMe account and began using social media to spread the word.  Within the first five days of the campaign, 95 percent of the total $1,530 was raised. “It was shocking,” Rachel says.  “People sure are amazing.”  She presented the donation to The REACH as well as some blankets and a few other items at the end of December.  The staff was grateful for the donation and was impressed by how quickly the funds were raised.

Rachel contributes the success of the campaign to her experiences at Minnesota State Mankato. As the Homecoming Promotions and Partnerships Chair for the Student Events Team, she learned that “social media is a pivotal key in promoting the needs of an event – as it did for this one for The Reach.”  Rachel intends on continuing to donate to The REACH and volunteer in the community in any way possible. 

This experience has impacted Rachel in a significant way. “Growing up in a middle-class family, I never really had to worry about finding my next meal or a place to sleep at night,” she says. “These are concerns that really only scratch the surface of what people are experiencing as homeless youth.  This experience helped me to realize the important things in life–such as helping others and giving back.  There is something bigger out there, for all of us.”

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