Becky's Blog


TreeHouse Transformations: One Big Party

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Every summer we throw One Big Party! This year, we had over 250 teens join us for a day of fun in the sun! Most of these teens experienced things for the first time that you and your family have probably been doing for decades: 

  • Swimming in a lake
  • Riding in a boat
  • Screaming at the top of their lungs as they ride a tube across the wake!

For three hours, they forgot about their problems...problems they should never have to face in the first place like abuse, neglect and hunger. What an incredible contrast between the life they get to experience at TreeHouse and the lives they have to face at home. Our teens got to hang with TC - the mascot of the MN Twins, eat pizzas and cookies that were 4 feet wide and, well, just be kids!

One Big Party is a time for our teens to have fun. It's also a time for them to experience how big TreeHouse is as they meet teens who are just like them from all across the Twin Cities. It's a time for them to bring their friends to TreeHouse and introduce them to the life changing opportunities that happen here. It's a time to build relationships with the caring adult staff - so when crisis hits, they know just who to call.

We can't say it often enough... thank you! One Big Party is just one of the many steps that lead to life transformation - thank you for making it all possible!

Click here to see more pictures from One Big Party!

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TreeHouse Transformations: Sofia

Monday, June 4, 2012

At 16 years old Sofia has been attending TreeHouse for three years, ever since she was in 8th grade. As a 13 year old girl Sofia struggled with friends, family and her self esteem. "I always avoided looking at myself and was getting cyber-bullied". She was meeting with her school counselor, Ms. Miller, who worried about her, especially her suicidal thoughts. Ms. Miller suggested she visit TreeHouse. Sofia was interested, but nervous and guarded. She only planned to go once. 

Now, Sofia looks back at her introduction to TreeHouse through a picture she keeps from that first visit. “Even though I was nervous and scared about it, I knew I had to be there because I knew it was going to change me.” Through the listening ear and encouragement of TreeHouse staff, she felt understood and began to see herself in a different light. “I'm no longer afraid to admit my flaws because I know they are not the whole me, just a part of me. God made me beautiful; He does not make mistakes." That renewed understanding of God has developed into a beautiful relationship with Him. “I was forced to go to church as a kid but TreeHouse didn’t push God on me. They let me slowly love Him and I've given my life to Him.” 

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Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 

May your Christmas season be filled with peace and light!

"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5

Merry Christmas from the TreeHouse family to yours!

Pictured above: Kanaecia, a TreeHouse teen, and the word "peace" are illuminated using light painting.

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Winter Blast and Our Four Goals for Teens

The holiday season is one of the loneliest times of the year for so many of our hurting teens. Daylight is short and nighttime is long. The familiarity of routine and boundaries is broken by the extended time away from school and more time in broken home environments. There our beautiful teens face hunger, depression, family dysfunction, abuse and fears on a magnified scale without the support they desperately need.


The staff at TreeHouse is tremendously skilled at turning difficult situations into opportunities to bring hope to teens. We believe taking kids out of their environment on special trips gives them a chance to experience healthy community and God in a new way. This winter, our staff and hundreds of teens will attend Winter Blast at Camp Forest Springs in Westboro, Wisconsin. Trips like Winter Blast are critical to our program model -- and critical to achieving our four goals for teens:


1) Decrease in at-risk behavior
2) Healthy relationship with God, self, and others
3) Graduate from high school
4) Have a plan for education/vocation beyond high school


The camp setting is designed for teens to experience God in a fresh way. Extended time away from home is just the break these hurting youth need to focus on their issues and replace negatives with positives. Three days of intentional time in the Word of God and building healthy relationships with staff and peers are often spiritual markers on the journey to life transformation for so many of our kids. Our teens make more gains on trips like Winter Blast than they do in months of hard work facing their problems at home, stuck in the familiarity of pain.


The cost to attend Winter Blast camp is $125 per student -- highly subsidized, but still out of reach for so many teens. During this holiday season, would you join other TreeHouse supporters and provide a special scholarship gift to help send a child to Winter Blast?  Send your check to us by December 31 and write "scholarships" in the memo line. Or Give NOW!

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Lexi Speaks

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 

Hectic. That was the single word TreeHouse teen Lexi used to explain what her life would be like without TreeHouse; a life of depression, loneliness, and self-blame. Her journey began with the simple discovery of a brochure. When her mom came upon a TreeHouse brochure, Lexi was encouraged to attend after numerous conversations with friends. She went for the first time at age 15 and never stopped. From the beginning, Lexi found the staff to be welcoming and funny and knew that TreeHouse was a place where she could feel safe and would not be judged. Since that first day, she has become more confident about herself and open to share her feelings. For Lexi, the experience is not only about her; she also enjoys making the other teens laugh and feel good about themselves. She has found that you can never judge a person by the way they look, and loves to be wrong about first impressions. Lexi's time at TreeHouse has not only altered the way she thinks about other people, but also the way she thinks about God. She has come to realize that He always listens and is always there for her. Christ is her best friend, and she has had multiple experiences where she was positive He was there.  Lexi now aspires to attend the Performing Arts School in California or New York to be a singer, dancer, and actress. The same girl who described her life without TreeHouse to be one of loneliness and depression has found new life in her relationships with people and with Christ. 

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Jordan's Story of Hope

Monday, October 31, 2011

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT TREEHOUSE?

I've been coming to TreeHouse since I was 15. Some friends invited me and I came because it sounded like fun. I kept coming back because you can talk to these people about anything, they'll never put you down.

WHAT IS THE STAFF LIKE?

Nice, helpful, caring and energetic!

HOW HAS BEING AT TREEHOUSE AFFECTED YOU?

Being at TreeHouse has made me a better person. I don't hide my true feelings anymore because they help with personal stuff. I know you don't have to think negative about yourself because God made you perfect in His eyes.

HOW HAS BEING AT TREEHOUSE CHANGED THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT OTHERS?

I've been put down my whole life. I'm always getting into fights with people at school, but I've been able to get closer to people at TreeHouse.

HOW HAS BEING AT TREEHOUSE CHANGED THE YOU THINK ABOUT GOD?

I'm closer to God now. I used to think that if you don't see God then He's not there, but TreeHouse said He's always there.

HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE BE DIFFERENT IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE TREEHOUSE?

I wouldn't be as busy! I'd be more depressed, and I wouldn't be my true self.

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God is at work

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recently during an adventure trip, a TreeHouse teen opened up about the trauma she experienced growing up. At age four, her dad was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting. Two years later he stabbed her mom in the chest - her mom went to the hospital, her dad to jail and she went to foster care. And now, through the care and guidance she receives at TreeHouse, slowly by surely, God's love is starting to break through to her heart. These trips are so important for our teens. They provide a safe refuge from the hurt and pain they experience on a daily basis at home. They provide opportunities for kids to totally open up and find healing as godly adults enter their pain and demonstrate His love for them. God is truly at work at TreeHouse.

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KC's Story of Hope

Wednesday, October 11, 2011

Sixteen year old KC, a TreeHouse teen, reflects on her powerful story and her life changing experience at TreeHouse.

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT TREEHOUSE?

About four years ago, I had some friends who went to TreeHouse. I didn't want to come at first...I was really nervous. But I realized TreeHouse people are there for you and love without strings.

WHAT IS THE STAFF LIKE?

They're supportive and it's encouraging to see them happy and see them follow God.

HOW HAS COMING TO TREEHOUSE AFFECTED YOU?

It's changed my life. Before I came to TreeHouse, I was depressed, had anxiety, eating disorders and a lot of self-hate. TreeHouse taught me who God is and who I am in Him.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT TREEHOUSE?

Everything! TreeHouse is my family. I gave a talk in front of a bunch of TreeHouse teens. Letting God speak through me changed me. I'm now able to tell my story much more freely.

HOW HAS TREEHOUSE CHANGED THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT GOD?

Before, my family only went to church on holidays. Now, I have a stronger relationship with God and put my faith into action. My mom had cancer this past year but is now recovered and we go to church together regularly now.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR LIFE WOULD BE LIKE IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE TREEHOUSE?

I'd still be a girl who hated herself, didn't have friends, and didn't see a future.

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS OR DREAMS FOR YOURSELF?

I want to go to Bethel University and do missions in Africa. Eventually, I want to open a youth ministry here with a missions focus.

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School is in Session

Thursday, September 8, 2011

As another school year begins, please pray that our youth would be given strength to face any new challenges and excel in every task ahead!

 

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Help Through Mediation

Tuesday, July 20, 2011

Chased by sadness, loss and loneliness, that's Michael. After his dad was deported, Michael's grandpa stepped in to be his dad. Sadly six years ago, the grandpa passed away followed shortly by the death of Michael's mother. In the midst of grieving the loss of these two key relationships, Michael's brother stepped in a became a father figure to him...and then left for the army. As person after person has left his life, the holes in Michael's heart have become deeper and the echoes of loss continue to chase Michael even now as he struggles into young adulthood. Grief has left Michael lost and disconcerted, confused about his place in life. Wondering about a family that's fallen away and trying to figure out where he fits and with whom. The stress of raising a teen was too much for his grandmother, so Michael moved in with his aunt. The new family structure has proven tough on all sides. His daily life at his aunt's is marked by their different expectations and the conflict that ensues, the struggle to fit a new person into an already established family and the incongruence of being stuck as a young man who is sad and grieving his mom; along with the reality of needing a job and thinking he should join the Navy.

Recently, TreeHouse participated in a mediation with Michael and his aunt, giving both parties a chance to talk and share their feelings with the hope of building a bridge to restore the relationship while empowering them to negotiate their differences. As Michael learns how to navigate life through the eyes of loss, he needs supportive love and high expectations that empower him to become a healthy, successful young man. As staff worked with him and his aunt, they poured truth and love into him while challenging him to rise to the expectations realistic for a young man. Though only a step along a very tough, long road of healing, it's still a step that Michael allowed us to take with him due to the power of the relationship that TreeHouse staff have with him. What a gift to be able to encourage, believe in and empower a young man whose life, though riddled with loss, is precious and has the potential to be powerful!

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Summer - One Big Party!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

On Thursday, June 23, hundreds of TreeHouse teens from all seven TreeHouses gathered at Lake Riley Park in Eden Prairie for "One Big Party", our first annual all TreeHouse summer kick-off event. When we say One Big Party, we weren't kidding. Kids played basketball, tennis, sand volleyball and kickball. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate so the sun-worshippers weren't able to work on their tans. But the cool clouds didn't stop the boaters and tubers from enjoying the water. Thanks to the community partners that provided lunch and drinks for all teens and staff mentors that day. View the festivities.

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Who is a Light in Your Life?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Recently, we asked several teens about the lights in their lives:

Angela, age nineteen: The light of my life is former TreeHouse staff person, Jill Lacher. She's always been there to listen and talk to me even when I didn't want to talk. TreeHouse has been a light to me by bringing me out of my shell, letting me experience new things and go on adventures that I never imaged that I would go on.

Fernando, a tenth grader:The light of my life is my mom, because she always tries to make sure I'm doing my homework. She tries to help me in any way she can, and even if she can't. Perserverance is a valuable trait of 'a light'. TreeHouse is a light in my life because even while I face many challenges, TreeHouse is always there for me.

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From Darkness to Light

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's hard to believe this is the 27th year of TreeHouse and already my fifth year as its executive director. Each year I am amazed and gratified by every corporate sponsor, individual contributor and volunteer who supports our mission. Without you, there would be no TreeHouse. And without TreeHouse, I shudder to think where thousands of hurting youth would be.

But thanks to you, TreeHouse is here, shining a light in the darkness that is prevalent in so many young people's lives. And why this year's theme at TreeHouse, Shine the Light, is so near and dear to my heart. While putting together our plans for our new fiscal year, we chose as our guiding verse Ephesians 5:8. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Our theme and this verse are the very cornerstone of who we are, and my hope is that each one of the teens who come to TreeHouse will be able to shine, too!

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The Choking Game

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yesterday, Channel 12 community television broadcast a feature story highlighting a high-risk, dangerous activity being played by local teens. The choking game is when one student deprives another of oxygen by choking him or her. Students could also hold their breath to play the game on their own. Sometimes this creates a tingling sensation or a "rush" that can be fatal or even life changing. View the broadcast at Channel 12 Feature: The choking game. And if you are a parent that is concerned your child may be participating in this activity, Tom Richards, TreeHouse program director suggests creating opportunities to talk this through with your teen in a non-threatening way. Contact your local TreeHouse for further help.

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Survival

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mikal came to TreeHouse for the first time this past fall. He has been in foster care for about eight years since his mother passed away and his father is in jail. He only came to TreeHouse because his girlfriend was coming. Mikal recalls his father constantly telling him, from jail, "You need to join a gang, and if you don't you're not my son." He had no choice but to be jumped into a gang at a very young age where he learned to fight and push away his emotions in order to survive. It's been a struggle for Mikal to form relationships, control his anger and not resort to violence. Recently in a support group, he encouraged another student who was struggling with suicidal thoughts:

"You know, before I came to TreeHouse, I didn't care about nothin'. I was gang bangin', usin' drugs and I did not care about anyone but myself. But now I can't wait to come to TreeHouse. They are like another family to me. I never cared about God before coming to TreeHouse and now I like to pray. Even though I've done some bad stuff, I know I can always turn to TreeHouse and they will have me."

This young man still struggles with his emotions and occasional bursts of anger. But he keeps coming back to TreeHouse because he wants to change his life. That's why we are here - to challenge his way of life and help him on his path to better choices.

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TreeHouse Structured for Growth

Thursday, March 10, 2011

There is a silent epidemic working its way through teens, their families and society at large. Confirmed by government and private agencies alike, this epidemic is causing behaviors that can ruin individuals' lives, shatter once-solid families and harm entire communities. The serious needs around us are growing.

Recent studies have shown that TreeHouse teens are 24% more likely to graduate high school than their peers. Recognizing that our programs are uniquely effective, TreeHouse has chosen an ambitious path for growth. We are committed to expand locally, and just as importantly, reach beyond our local presence to become a truly nationwide organization.

The Development Team that will execute this growth consists of Jill Pautz (Director of Development, Strategic Development and Events), Deb Peterka (Director of Marketing), Tom Richards (Program Director), Angela Rightler (Program Project Manager), Lisa Stordahl (Director of Development, Community Advancement and TreeHouse Growth) and Robin Wolfram (Director of Development, New Development and Public Relations).

Pautz has a strong background in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds where she spent most of her time at Target Corporation and Crown College. Peterka has over thirty years of management experience in communication, marketing, and project management. Richards' career experience lies in youth ministry, nonprofit organizations, and Christian higher education. Rightler has years of experience at TreeHouse on the Program side and brings valuable knowledge to the Development side. Stordahl has provided professional expertise to build community and raise revenue in both the nonprofit and governmental sectors. Wolfram has a proven track record in increasing public/media relations attention and was an Emmy Award winning news anchor, realtor and co-owner of an interior design firm.

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Thank you, TreeHouse

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The recent Channel 12 community television series "If You Really Knew Me" promoted several TreeHouse alumni to share their thoughts and feelings about the impact that TreeHouse had in their lives.

AR, age 38: Thank you Treehouse :) I had some of the best times of my life there. The counselors are awesome, the kids are awesome, and it is a very comforting experience to know that you are lovable, capable, and worthwhile. You are not alone. Thank you.

KC, age 35: I am soo glad that this special came out. I remember the days of Treehouse and how for once, I felt accepted and loved. I feel blessed to have known all the people I have meet through TreeHouse and am so proud of all the wonderful people who have the courage and love in their hearts to care for those who need it most. Without the direction and care ,who knows were I would be today. Just a reminder to all staff, you make a real difference. Thank you.

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Growing up Digital

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In this multitasking, tech-savvy world we live in today, the use of social media - from blogging to online social networking to creation of all kinds of digital material - is central to many teenagers' lives. Some 93% of teens use the internet, and more of them than ever are treating it as a venue for social interaction - a place where they can share creations, tell stories, and interact with others.

On the flipside, the anonymity of the internet can impact teens in a negative way. We used to worry about someone "spreading a rumor" about us, but now there are more ways for that to be done, and less chance to discover the source. Teens can date AND break up without even making eye contact. Cyber-bullying and "hate blogs" are commonplace, creating more opportunities for hatred to be spread - a dangerous situation for teens already dealing with self-worth issues.

With the landscape of social media ever-changing, it's important to keep up with trends and know how teens are harnessing their technological power. At TreeHouse, social media sites like Facebook are used to connect with teens and provide support. With the magnitude of circumstances TreeHouse teens often deal with, this means of communication can be the easiest outlet for teens to express their emotions and receive support.

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Escape

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nate lives with his father, an abusive alcoholic. Amazingly, he believes this to be the better living option than with his mother, who is more abusive and also an alcohol and drug addict. He doesn't want to be part of the foster care system either. Usually, he hangs out at friends' houses, on the street or in the lobby of his apartment complex until he thinks his father has passed out and won't hurt him.

Many kids with this kind of home life search for an escape. A current trend for drug users in high school is called Robi-tripping - drinking bottles of cough syrup to overdose on dextromethorphan. In high does, this may cause hallucinations that can last four to six hours. For a kid like Nate, this is a cheap, accessible way to escape life's problems. And that's exactly how he sees it. This allows him to escape the emotions that bring him so much pain; allows him to forget his parents and the pressures of being a teenager; the fear of going home. But Nate doesn't need drugs, he needs hope.

At TreeHouse, we don't view Nate as a drug user, troublemaker or law-breaker. Rather, we see him as an eighth-grade boy who has been robbed of his childhood and dealt a very rough hand in life. Nate desperately needs help. Fortunately, Nate found TreeHouse. We can't give him back his childhood, but we will help him feel love, safety and hope.

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TreeHouse Teens Show Support

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Let's be honest. I'm still learning to use the chat feature in my Gmail. I don't know the first thing about Tweeting or Facebooking. Embracing social media for personal use is not a priority for me, but it sure is for our teens. This is how they communicate, express themselves and interact, whether it be for good or bad.

Recently our staff helped me understand how these means of communication can take some harmful turns. I apologize for the vulgarity of this "conversation of bullying", but this is what is going on and affecting our teens.

Let me give you an example of comments received on a social media site by Cindy, a fourteen-year-old:

-you're getting fat...you're so f ugly

-did you ever see what a .44 magnum could do to a girls face? it could f destroy it. thats what it could do to your face

-i hope you die because you're useless to society and a waste of space

-take a bottle of pain killers, swallow them all and die, thanks

Unbelievable! Often as in the case of cyber-bullying, these sites can be used by teens to tear each other down. Thank God we have a wonderful staff at TreeHouse who teach kids how to use social media in a positive way.

Yesterday, a colleague showed me one of our teen's Facebook pages: Life sucks and I want to give up!

As my heart began to break, I read a response from another TreeHouse teen: don't give up dude - don't forget you are loveable, capable and worthwhile

My spirits were lifted. TreeHouse staff are constantly reminding teens of their worth; how encouraging to see these teens doing the same to their peers - using social media to support one another, not to tear each other down. Building relationships through these media outlets is where our kids are and will be. With your wonderful support, TreeHouse continues to be real with teens wherever they are, loving them, bringing hope, transforming lives.

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"If You Really Knew Me"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Channel 12 community television is running a weekly series on Tuesday, January 11 - February 15, highlighting the issues facing teens today. The stories include today's youth subculture, gang violence, self mutilation, sexting, and teen suicide.  Channel 12 coverage area includes Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, Golden Valley, Maple Grove, New Hope, Osseo, Plymouth and Robbinsdale. The features are available for viewing at Channel 12. Check it out and learn how and why teens engage in risky behaviors.

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Hoopin' It Up for Hope

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We're gearing up for the inaugural season of Hoopin' It Up for Hope, a free-throw contest sponsored by the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx!
 
It's time to register teams and participants! So, lace up your hightops and register as a participant or team captain of a team of five.  Are you with a local business or civic organization, a government official or CEO? Challenge someone else to put a team together and take you on! Mayor vs. Mayor, restaurant vs. restaurant, bank vs. bank, department vs. department, Lion's Club vs. Lion's Club...have fun; plus know all money raised goes to save teens' lives at your local TreeHouse. 

Spread the word!

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Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We at TreeHouse wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and joyful new year! We're thankful for the generous support we have received from our wonderful friends - you are truly family to us.
 
For many TreeHouse teens, Christmas can be filled more with pain than joy. During this holiday break when kids are missing the structure of school and the security of a loving family, TreeHouse stands in the gap. Your year-end donation will help ensure that every youth has the support they need from a trusted adult mentor. If you have not yet had a chance to give, please consider including TreeHouse in your Christmas giving this year.
 
We are grateful for your gifts, enabling TreeHouse to continue loving kids, bringing hope and transforming lives!

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Choices

Thursday, December 2, 2010

At TreeHouse, our staff mentors, teaches, encourages, listens and provides unconditional love. They present choices.

Teens experience a family in destructive disarray. We show them family can be a place of order, encouragement and love.

Teens experience struggling for every dime. We demonstrate, with hard work, they can have a bill-paying job, leading to opportunity and providing security.

Teens experience anger and betrayal around every corner. We show them people can be trusted; love and forgiveness is the better way.

Teens experience pain with no God. We show them they are not alone and God deeply loves them.

At TreeHouse, we help kids make better choices today for a healthier life tomorrow.

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Thanks be to God

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we give thanks for the many blessings God has provided. With His grace, loving kindness and tender mercy, we are nourished and sustained.  We are grateful for the teens that pass through our doors finding unconditional love and hope; and give praise for the many lives transformed.  May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

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Our Kids' Stories Say it Best

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

While we know TreeHouse is making a positive impact on our teens staying in school and graduating, we know the stories of our kids tell it best:

  • Scott grew up without a father, and a mother who was constantly in the hospital for alcohol abuse. Despite the hardships he endured, he learned at TreeHouse that he could overcome these challenges and graduate. He not only graduated but is attending Northwestern College in St. Paul.
  • Shanon came to TreeHouse when she was just thirteen. She was a runaway, addicted to crystal meth, who was caught running through the snowy streets of north Minneapolis barefoot in the dead of winter. TreeHouse helped her get back on the right track. Today she has not only graduated high school, but is pursuing a nursing degree while fully supporting herself.

We feel so blessed by these stories. They continue to drive our passion to help teens make better life choices for a brighter future.

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TreeHouse is everything to me

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recently, a TreeHouse staff member shared the following letter from a TreeHouse teen. Letters such as these energize us and warm our hearts in our ongoing journey to reach more at-risk teens.

Dear TreeHouse staff,

When I hear the word TreeHouse, the first thing that comes to my head is “home.”  TreeHouse is everything to me.  It saved my life and it’s helping me with everything going on. Being sexually abused by my dad when I was younger was a HUGE turning point in my life.  I lost my whole life after that night.  My dad was everything to me and then he showed me he doesn’t love me. I lost a father that night and I don’t see me having that father ever again.  When I finally told my counselor and the police officer at school, I cried for days. I got made fun of for crying all the time.  I starting smoking and messing around with guys in a sexual way. I gave up!  I didn’t see any hope for good to come. My mom started drinking a lot more. She was getting drunk every night and wasn't herself. My mom called me names saying I was her mother’s revenge.  Life was going downhill!   But then this staff person from TreeHouse came up to me and started talking to me.  She saved me.  I was brought up out of this endless hole I was in. I started to see hope. If I had never heard of TreeHouse I don’t know where I’d be.  I could possibly have killed myself, started drugs, got in trouble with the law or thrown my life away.  Now, because of TreeHouse, I have a future. I’m going to get into a good college and live my life for God as much as I can. TreeHouse has opened so many doors for me and with TreeHouse I don’t have walk through them alone.  I love you TreeHouse!

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Women of Hope

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yesterday, approximately 550 women gathered for the seventh annual Women of Hope luncheon. Our theme this year was “Rooted in Hope” representing both the deep-rooted foundation that teens develop through the balanced TreeHouse program and the opportunities TreeHouse creates for teens to grow and blossom. 

Personal stories brought many poignant moments. Featured speaker, Carol Kent, inspired us with her story of living with an unthinkable circumstance that will never change - her only son is incarerated with a life sentence - and to still make hope-filled choices. Staff member, Nick, shared his passion for reaching teens today stemming from his own upbringing in a broken home.

And TreeHouse graduate, Cami, shared her personal story of hardship and triumph: I have learned how to love myself. I am comfortable in my skin and happy with the way I am. I have learned how to respect others, and respect my mom. Our relationship has become better and better and I am so thankful for our relationship now. It has been really good the last couple years and I regret the years I wasted time being angry. I haven’t had alcohol since I was 16. I don’t want to die anymore. I know my life is worth something. I am currently a sophomore at Crown College and love it. I am so excited to go back next month. I am studying psychology and will be applying for TreeHouse’s summer internship next summer and hope to be a TreeHouse staff some day. Because of TreeHouse I know that I am worthwhile and that love is possible.

We, as mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, girlfriends…we as WOMEN, have the power to save a teen’s life – how could we NOT want to be part of that?

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Cupcakes for TreeHouse

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On October 5, KARE11 broadcast "Cupcakes for a Cause" on its 6pm newscast. Two KARE11 personalities were asked to select a charity that would receive proceeds from the sale of cupcakes during the month of October at the new Franklin Street Bakery in Edina. Julie Nelson selected TreeHouse as the beneficiary of carrot cake cupcake sales and Belinda Jensen selected Feed My Starving Children as the beneficiary of milk chocolate ganache cupcake sales. A few Edina TreeHouse employees attended the filming which included a short presentation by Lisa Stordahl, Director of Community Advancement.

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TreeHouse Gala in MPLS.ST.PAUL Magazine

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photographs taken at the Canopy of Dreams Gala, held May 27 at The Depot, are featured in the October issue of MPLS.ST.PAUL Magazine. Grab a copy and check out page 142!

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Women of Hope Luncheon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Expect another heartwarming Women of Hope luncheon on Wednesday, October 27 at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel South. Event attendees will be inspired by TreeHouse teens, along with author and speaker, Carol Kent. Carol has lived every parent's nightmare. After her only son was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, her life took a permanent detour. She and her husband, Gene, have been adjusting ever since, moving to Florida to be near the prison and starting a new ministry for prison inmates and their families. Please join us!

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TreeHouse Missions Trip

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This summer, 50 youth and 20 staff from all seven TreeHouses spent a week on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. They focused on two large needs in the community: home improvement and childcare. Although Pine Ridge is the eighth largest reservation in the United States, it is also the poorest. Unemployment lies between 80% - 85%; and 49% live below the Federal poverty level. Adolescent suicide is four times the national average. Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water or sewage system. By helping families improve their homes and lifestyles, each youth was able to experience first-hand the satisfaction of helping others while discovering new ways to use their talents.

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Standout Students

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Every week, community television Channel 12 News features a 'Standout Student' who challenges themselves to go above and beyond. Recently, Channel 12 reached out to TreeHouse in search of non-traditional Standout Students and found two very unique stories to highlight.

In July, Plymouth TreeHouse student, Joshua, was featured for his mission work - this summer in Nicaragua; a TreeHouse mission trip to South Dakota; and his upcoming experience with Mission Year where he will spend the next year working the streets of Atlanta, living in poverty, and ministering to the community in various ways.

In August, New Hope TreeHouse student, Josh, was featured for 'Children of Hope', an organization he created that collects school supplies, used laptops, and monetary donations for kids in his home country of Liberia.

Congratulations Joshua and Josh!  You truly are Standout Students!!!

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Life's Truths

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If you met Katy, it might be hard to imagine she is a person gripped by the control of explosive anger. She is full of energy and eager to get involved and help. She's highly competitive and loves to sing. But angry?  You wouldn't expect it. Her anger has always had a slow build. She is a stewer - someone who stuffs her emotions down deep until something happens to trigger a fit of rage. Her anger is provoked mainly from her home life. Katy feels like an outcast among her brother and sister because her mom communicates the idea that she doesn't belong or look like a 'good kid'. Katy also takes on too much responsibility for the poor choices of her dad and his failing health. When there is a crisis with her dad or at home, it can be predicted that Katy's anger meter will skyrocket. For a very long time, Katy has just lived with her anger because that's who she believes she is - an angry person, following a family pattern and history. Recently, with the help of TreeHouse, she realized that she was using her anger problem as a excuse not to deal with issues that are painful in her life. She is slowly surrendering control of her anger to God and recognizes the destruction that her anger has caused on the people she loves and in her own life. She is on a path to a new approach to life!

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What TreeHouse Youth Hear

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Here is what the teens at TreeHouse hear from staff over and over again:

  • You are not alone: No matter how hard and isolating life may be, TreeHouse staff and youth are here to encourage you, support you and love you.
  • You are loved without strings: No matter what [your appearance, life choices, beliefs] you are loved. Nothing can stop us from loving you!
  • You are lovable, capable and worthwhile: You are easy to love. You are capable of breaking free from whatever is making you feel trapped in order to grow into a healthy and joy-filled young adult. You are worth the effort, time and love that you receive at TreeHouse.

Messages all of us need to hear!

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Hard Realities

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 

One of the most challenging, yet rewarding, parts of my job is to hear the stories of our TreeHouse teens. 

Sonya's mom is an alcoholic. Last year while her mom as in treatment with Alcoholic's Anonymous, Sonya found a piece of paper that had been accidentally left behind by her mom. As she read it, her heart sank. The paper was her mom's brainstorming what leads to her excessive drinking and Sonya's name was at the top of the list. Sonya carries a lot of shame. It centers on her mom's drinking and how she herself expresses her own feelings of shame and anger --- by cutting, drinking and smoking pot. Throughout the years she has been attending TreeHouse, staff has observed Sonya stuck in this same cycle. But with God's work and the unconditional love and support of TreeHouse staff, she is hearing over and over again that she is not alone, she is loved without strings, and she is lovable, capable and worthwhile. Messages we all deserve to hear, understand and believe.

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Alumni Speak

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 

Recently, I had the opportunity to read responses from TreeHouse alumni discussing how TreeHouse helped them with their struggles. Here, in their words, are reflections on what TreeHouse meant to them:

- "Most adults saw us as bad kids and didn't even try to help. TreeHouse just saw us as kids that needed help."

- "TreeHouse offered a support system with boundaries. Retreats really allowed me to connect with peers and build friendships."

- "I learned alot about God and I learned alot about myself."

- "TreeHouse helped me to feel like I belonged somewhere. I had a safe place to go where I was not judged."

- "TreeHouse gave me a venue to process alot of stuff that I couldn't really talk about with friends on a daily basis."

- "Social Services forced me to continue going to TreeHouse. Best thing ever!"

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We are in the midst of a Silent Epidemic

Thursday, June 10, 2010 

There is a silent epidemic working its way through teens, their families and society at large. It's an epidemic that is causing behaviors that can ruin individuals' lives, shatter families and harm entire communities. Teens are literally hurting themselves through cutting, eating disorders and other forms of self-injury. Teens are using the Internet and cell phones for sexual-related activity. Countless families are imploding - poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, divorce, addiction - chances are it's happening right in your neighborhood. More kids are using drugs and alcohol. Teen crime is victimizing everyone with the costs to society totaling hundreds of billions of dollars. And teens are dropping out of school failing to graduate at alarming rates.

TreeHouse is dedicated to breaking the silence of this silent epidemic and stem the tide of such devastating behaviors.

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Canopy of Dreams Gala Raised Funds for TreeHouse

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 

More than 1,000 people gathered on May 27 for the Canopy of Dreams gala, presented by Periscope and supported by Target. The gala featured Michael Oher, Leigh Anne and Collins Tuohy of the acclaimed book and Academy Award-nominated movie, The Blind Side, as well as a special musical performance by Grammy Award-winner Amy Grant.

It was truly a night to dream, discover, and be inspired.  A TreeHouse youth said it best when he spoke of the impact that TreeHouse has had on his life:

When I first came to TreeHouse, I was emotionally screwed up. I didn't have any friends, my family was broken, I hated church and had no relationship with God. TreeHouse became my family, they introduced me to new friends, and showed me what a relationship with God can do. TreeHouse gave me hope. TreeHouse saved my life. ~ Tre, New Hope TreeHouse Teen

While the final numbers are not yet tallied, over $620,000 net revenue was raised at this extraordinary celebration.  Thank you to the wonderful support of TreeHouse friends, alumni, staff and new friends of TreeHouse that contributed so generously of their time, talent and treasures to help teens like Tre.

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TreeHouse Gala!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 

Tomorrow is a big day at TreeHouse!  It's our opportunity to share how TreeHouse makes a difference for teens, providing a stable foundation and the opportunity to grow and realize their dreams. Many TreeHouse teens will join in the celebration at The Depot, first meeting with Michael Oher, OT with the Baltimore Ravens and focus of the acclaimed book and movie, The Blind Side; and then at the evening Gala where they will be honored.

It's an exciting event for TreeHouse and many of our teens! 

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What in the world is going on?

Thursday, May 20, 2010 

Every time I turn on the television and radio, or pull up the news on my computer, I am saddened by stories of teens and families in crisis. It's happening in all our neighborhoods -- divorce, addiction, absentee guardians, poverty, homelessness, abuse and neglect, depression -- and the list goes on and on.  We must do something.  We must help our teens address the pressures they face. We must guide them to make healthier choices.

Join TreeHouse in stemming the tide of this epidemic.

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TreeHouse featured on KARE 11 and momslikeme.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 

We are so excited to share the work of TreeHouse with others.  And with KARE 11 that's going to be happening a lot over the next two days!

Tomorrow, May 13, Wayne Thyren, TreeHouse Regional Director, will be discussing the issue of teen pregnancy on the KARE 11 News at 4 program. Then at 5 pm, TreeHouse staff and teens will be in the KARE 11 Backyard during the weather segment talking about TreeHouse and the upcoming Canopy of Dreams Gala. And during the 10 pm news, KARE 11 is broadcasting an EXTRA segment with Julie Nelson and TreeHouse teens and staff as they talk about the issue of teen pregnancy.

On Friday, May 14, Wayne will be participating in a live web chat on www.momslikeme.com, an online web site affiliated with KARE 11. Wayne will be offering tips for what moms should know and do.

Tune in!

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TreeHouse Volunteers Shine Their Light

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 

The first TreeHouse Volunteer Recognition event was held on Monday of this week.  It was a true celebration of all TreeHouse volunteers and how they shine their light on TreeHouse.

The following individuals and groups were recognized for their outstanding commitment to TreeHouse:

  • Chrissie Daoud, Administration volunteer
  • Anne Obermeyer, Board Member, Committee Chair
  • Kim Grinstead, Connections volunteer spreading the word of TreeHouse
  • Cheryl Skelly, Direct Service volunteer
  • Rudy Raftshol, Direct Service volunteer
  • Russ Lilienthal, Event Chair
  • Mark and Kim Thompson and Emily Soltvedt, Family Legacy
  • St. Louis Park Target Store Employees, Volunteer Group
  • Gary Fabel, Facilities Improvement

Thank you to all TreeHouse volunteers. We appreciate you!

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We're #2 (and that's okay)

Thursday, April 15, 2010 

The April 9 issue of Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal ranks the TreeHouse Golf for Hope as the 2009 2nd highest gross revenue producing charity golf tournament in the metro area.  Credit goes to the many Sponsors, participants, committee members, volunteers, and staff that make this tournament an annual success.  We're excited about the 2010 Golf for Hope, July 21 at Rush Creek Golf Club. Morning and afternoon flights are available. If you haven't attended Golf for Hope in the past, JOIN US to see why this tournament delivers a powerful day for all!

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"Lighting the Way" Celebration

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 

Thank You! to the awesome volunteers at TreeHouse.  We are excited to recognize the individuals and organizations faithfully walking along side TreeHouse providing support that ranges from direct service with youth to administrative office duties to food donation; and so much more.  The first Volunteer for Hope Recognition Event will be held Monday, April 19 5:00 p.m. at the St Louis Park Evangelical Free Church, 6805 Minnetonka Blvd. 

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Canopy of Dreams

Thursday, April 1, 2010  2:55 p.m.

The annual TreeHouse gala event will take place on May 27, 2010at The Depot, Minneapolis. The event will feature guest speakers Michael Oher and Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of the acclaimed book and award winning movie, The Blind Side. Julie Nelson, KARE 11 Anchor, will emcee. Guests will also enjoy a musical performance by Grammy Award Winner, Amy Grant.

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The "Cutting" Edge

Thursday, March 25, 2010  3:45 p.m.

What it is.

Cutting is injuring oneself on purpose by making scratches or cuts on the body with a sharp object; breaking the skin and bleeding.

Facts.

  • According the Minnesota Student Survey, 12.2% of ninth graders surveyed responded yes when asked "Have you hurt yourself on purpose ("cutting", burns, bruises) during the last year?"
  • 90% of self-abusers begin harming themselves during their teen years or younger.
  • Cutting and other self-injury behavior crosses all cultures and socio-economic norms.
  • Almost 50% of cutters or self-injury individuals have reported being sexually abused.
  • Almost 50% of self-abusers begin at the age of 14 and continue into their 20's.

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A TreeHouse Teen Says It Best

Tuesday, March 15, 2010  2:50 p.m.

What TreeHouse Means to Me, written by a TreeHouse Teen

  • A place to go when I am sad, a place to go when home is bad
  • A place to see some of God's wonders, a place to escape the Devil's blunders
  • They helped me escape my dark world and remind me I have a good soul
  • TreeHouse is my other home
  • I have people who remind me that I am not alone
  • I can be honest and know it's in confidence
  • I'm respected and know to someone my story makes sense
  • In groups we are taught self-control
  • We are told we are loved no matter God's role
  • I am not loved for the things I own
  • I am taught he loves me like one of his own
  • I love TreeHouse and it loves me
  • And to get to it I don't have to climb a tree.

Hear their voices!  We need your help to continue guiding teens, like this author, to realize hope, understand they are not alone, make healthy choices for a brighter future and experience life transformation.  Join us!

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Statistics That Startle

Thursday, March 4, 2010  3:15 p.m.

Did you know that each day in America

  • 5 teens commit suicide
  • 1,153 babies are born to teen mothers
  • 2,261 high school students drop out of school
  • 4,302 children are arrested
  • 17,132 public school children are suspended

[Children's Defense Fund, 2007]

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A Typical Tuesday Night

Thursday, February 25, 2010  9:05 a.m.

I recently received a note written late on a typical Tuesday evening by a TreeHouse staff member. His note spoke loudly of the daily reality facing our teens and the support provided by the TreeHouse program. 

His note said~

Today my day included 
- a drunk 17 year old Jehovah's Witness,
- a sexually addicted 17 year old Buddhist, 
- an 18 year old weekly bible study attendee who has a Wiccan priestess sister drawing her from Christ,  
- a 19 year old alcoholic who just found out she got pregnant the week she broke up with her boyfriend
- a 17 year old Christian "cutter" with many nasty scabbed-over gashes on his shoulder
- and a sober, kind, 15 year old Christian who coaches elementary school basketball and apologizes for sneaking a kiss from his girlfriend at TreeHouse

I just got back from driving a teen home for coming to TreeHouse intoxicated. Last week a staff member reported that she suspected “Alan” had been drinking before coming to TreeHouse. He had been sober for six months but now arrived acting different. Upon further investigation, we found that indeed was the case. So, I confronted Alan, saying “I know you’ve been drinking. I need to take you home.” He was surprised, but not argumentative; and wanted to walk off the property, in shame and disgrace. Instead, I tried to dissuade him. The weather was sub-zero and he had a mile walk home. I admired his 6-months of sobriety and told him I wanted to know what had happened. As Alan began to explain his pain, it was clear why he broke his own sobriety: Alan’s stress had piled up high.  His mom and step dad had pressured him to stop being so lazy. Alan’s shame mounted. The anniversary of his beloved grandmother’s death was imminent. That compounded his frustration and anger that his dad had just left treatment, “because it’s too hard to be sober.” Alan had placed a huge amount of energy in the hope he would be reunited with his dad. It doesn't excuse Alan’s behavior but it does give us context to understand the pain that Alan was trying to suppress. In accordance with our practice of accountability, Alan cannot attend TreeHouse for a month; but through one-on-one mentoring sessions, he will have a listening ear and a caring staff person available to help him through his pain.

It was another a typical night at TreeHouse. Teens struggling in pain, crying out for help. TreeHouse staff, lovingly supportive, bringing hope, teaching accountability.

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