MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Every family has its challenges, but the Doorstep Foundation is ready to step in when it all becomes too much.
"We know some folks don't know how to ask for help. They don't know how to say 'I'm struggling.'" Andre Debonaire McNeal created the mentoring program six years ago to help children and teens ages eight to 18.
"There are a number of things, a number of reasons why parents bring their kids to me," said McNeal. He offered this example, "Kids have abandonment issues where they're living in single parent households. So going from dad one week to mom the next."
The Doorstep Foundation connects families to counseling services. Through mentorships, the children and teens learn positive interaction and social skills, along with coping skills, which McNeal says is important after George Floyd's death and the unrest that followed.
"That trauma gets carried into what they're already dealing with as youth trying to figure themselves out and find out how this world works and where's their place in it," explained McNeal, who has a partner in this critical work.
"Children in families need to know that they have somebody outside of their homes that care about them." That's the message from McNeal's wife and the foundation's COO, Dr. Zakia Robbins-McNeal who is a therapist by trade.
"I love the work we do. Building and strengthening families is the best way to build and strengthen our community," she explained.
These simple words are at the root of that success: "Words like village, community, faith, and integrity. Learning what that word is, how to say it, and how to apply it to your life and how to use it in your decision-making process moving forward," said McNeal.
Dr. Robbins-McNeal reiterated, "Our community cares about them, our village cares about them, and this program is just showing, you know, come as you are we value you, and we want to help you."
The Doorstep Foundation meets at Hope and Healing Counseling Services on West Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis. Right now, there are a few more than 20 participants.
The McNeals self-funded the program up until last year, when the Doorstep Foundation officially became a business. Their hope is to see the Doorstep Foundation grow in all school districts and counties in the Twin Cities.