10 Stories of Building HOPE: Brian Swanson’s Story

April 18th, 2023

Brian Swanson has played a key role as a founder of HOPE 4 Youth. He started HOPE 4 Youth after gaining awareness of youth homelessness through research he was doing for a business. In the process, he came across an article with statistics and economic conditions in Anoka County. Brian was shocked to find data about homeless families, individuals, and youth. He was shocked by the number of young people experiencing homelessness. He explained, “This bothered me. I would wake up daily thinking about it.” One of Brian’s friends had continuously heard Brian talk about youth homelessness and told him, “If it bothers you that much, do something about it.” Brian believed, “…it was God speaking to me through him because, after that, God woke me up at 3:30 am every morning and undeniably spoke to me. The clarity He provided changed me and guided me through every step.”

Following this, Brian wanted to confirm youth homelessness was a real problem. He began talking to several people and was able to get connected with Karrie Schaff, the Anoka School District Homeless Liaison at the time. He found that Karrie had the most information and passion about youth homelessness. Brian and Karrie were able to arrange a meeting to talk about this issue. From that day forward this group of about 15 individuals met every week. About 4 months later in 2013, with the help of many, HOPE 4 Youth was formed, and the Drop-In Center was opened.

Brian was heavily involved in the first five years. Since then, he has been involved from time to time but mostly has enjoyed watching others carry on the mission of HOPE 4 Youth. He is constantly encouraged by the young people HOPE 4 Youth serves. He explained,

“These youth are at an age where the direction of their life is being established. I believe this is the most defining time for most people. We can impact a crucial period for them. This opens the door to change the entire trajectory of a person’s life. The positive impact establishes itself inside the person and, in turn, impacts everyone they interact with.”

Brian is encouraged by the influence HOPE 4 Youth has and will have for generations to come. He believes HOPE 4 Youth will continue to make positive change “for thousands of years into the future.”

Not only is Brian constantly encouraged by HOPE 4 Youth, but he has also grown a lot being involved. Before his involvement with HOPE 4 Youth, he explained, “I had a very small picture of how God works and what he can accomplish through us. I couldn’t have imagined what it would be like to watch Him work first-hand.” Brian felt his faith strengthened. He stated, “HOPE 4 Youth was one of the biggest challenges I have faced, other than being a parent. This gave me a new perspective on just about everything.”

When asked what he valued most about HOPE 4 Youth, Brian said, “If I have to choose one thing, it is that HOPE 4 Youth as an organization has sincerely attempted to put the needs of the young people first in everything.” With this, Brian’s greatest takeaway through his involvement with HOPE 4 Youth is that “serving others is an unbelievably difficult task that requires a very special group of people. At the same time, making a real impact is what makes life worth living. People who understand that and are willing to get in the arena and help others are truly living and making an impact every day.”

Brian ended our interview by saying,

“Our community has to be one of the most generous and caring communities in the world. Whenever we have asked for the impossible, the community has made it happen. I have marveled at the people who step up more times than I can count and it always makes me want to be better. I wish there was a way I could tell each person how much I appreciate and respect what they have done for these young people.”

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