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Twin Cities advocate for at-risk youth receives national award, retires after 45 years

For 45 years, Andy Martin has supported at-risk youth in the community through Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — In a world of constant challenge and change, a Twin Cities man has proved one person can make a difference…by simply being the person you can trust.

For 45 years, Andy Martin has supported at-risk youth in our community through Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His selfless career started in 1977 as an overnight support worker at St. Joseph’s Home for Children. And most recently, he supported guests at Hope Street for Youth – a housing-focused shelter for young people, ages 18 to 24.

In short, Martin has helped both infants in the child protection system and youth experiencing homelessness. And his career has not only earned him the love and admiration of both his clients and colleagues – but also the 2022 Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Award – a prestigious national honor.

“I believe the world will truly be a better place because Andy Martin was here,” said Keith Kozerski, chief program officer for Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

As for Martin himself, he told KARE 11 News that he responded to the news of his award with a humble, “Wow.” He then reflected on his decades-long career, noting the “Aha moments” when he would learn from both his colleagues and clients.

Martin also shared that the key to working with children and young adults in vulnerable situations is to prove to them you’re a person they can trust.

“To me, the biggest thing is that the clients learn to trust you. And they trust that you’re going to follow through. That you’re telling them the truth all the time. And those things add up,” Martin said.

As for persisting in trying to make a difference amid a world of change and challenge, Martin shared his wisdom – saying it’s all about focusing on what each person can do, every single day.

“Most of us can’t change the world. But if we look around and see what we can do, individually to help, whether it’s little things – I give blood regularly, because it helps and costs me nothing. It costs you nothing to be nice to your neighbor. It costs nothing, really, for you to try to assure that people are getting a fair shake. And if everyone does that, if everyone makes a little corner of the world better, then the whole world gets a little better.”

To learn more about Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, click here. And to learn more about Hope Street for Youth – Martin’s last stop on his storied career – click here.

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