Homeless families find hope with New Pathways

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

New Pathways exists to ensure homeless people, specifically families with children, have resources, skills and the assistance necessary to thrive. It works with 21 churches in Brainerd, Crosby, Nisswa and Pillager to help families with housing issues, meals, case management, training and a safe environment.

“We offer shelter for homeless families,” said Kathy Carlson, program manager and family educator. “New Pathways is a day center, located on South Sixth Street in Brainerd, during the day. During the night, the up to 18 people, or six families, we help are housed at the different churches.”

Kathy Carlson
Kathy Carlson

New Pathways services six counties which include Morrison, Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Todd and Wadena.

Carlson said she sees families in Central Minnesota doubling up to alleviate some of the financial stress. She has also counseled families who have no place to stay or are living in their vehicle, a tent or a fish house.

“By the time I see them, these families usually have exhausted all their resources,” said Carlson. “There is a lot of stress put on both the parents and the children.”

What New Pathways aims to help with work, give the families access to various services, help with parenting and relationship issues and form a plan with a case worker.

“We want to stabilize the family and help them remain in housing,” said Carlson.

To date, New Pathways has helped 90 percent of its clients to move on to permanent housing.

Besides finding housing, New Pathways has computers for its clients to use and offers rides to work or to the office from the churches and back again. It also supplies the beds in the churches for each family.

Since it began in 2005 in Little Falls, (it moved to Brainerd in 2007) New Pathways has served 215 families, 288 adults and 397 children. There have been 127 families turned away because the program was full.

“One of our success stories is about a young woman, her boyfriend and a child. While she resisted help for a time, she was still surrounded with support, especially in the teen mom program,” said Carlson. “Eventually, the woman got housing and child care and is looking for a job. With support from many different areas, and a baby shower from church parishioners, she later turned around and began serving new people to the program.”

Carlson has a degree in sociology from the University of Oregon and now has 12 years experience working with at-risk families.

New to New Pathways is its Thrift and Consignment Store located at 711 Laurel Street in Brainerd. The non-profit is accepting gently-used clothing, household items and antiques. To donate, call (218) 454-2460.

On Saturday, Nov. 16, New Pathways will have its fall fundraiser with a retro 80s prom. The event will be held at Arrow Wood Lodge in Baxter from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. For more information, call (218) 824-0460.

While it has 21 churches in Cass and Crow Wing Counties, New Pathways would like to see several churches in Morrison County become part of its support network. Families in the Morrison County area can find it difficult to travel to Brainerd or farther. For more information, call (218) 824-0460.


  • Kathy Carlson

    We would love to have churches in Morrison county participate in hosting our families. If you would like more information contact Kathy at New Pathways 218 454-0460 x3.