Cindy earned a bachelor’s degree in human services and counseling from Metropolitan State University eons ago and began a career in the resort business. She is a past owner/operator of Lost Lake Lodge on the Gull Lake Narrows and enjoyed her time in the tourism industry. After selling the resort in 2003 she set out to answer the question “ What do I want to do with my life?” Her answer (and her passion) has been working alongside young people who struggle to answer this same question, particularly those who have few resources and often times lack stability and emotional support in their worlds.
She was fortunate to begin work at Lutheran Social Service as a youth empowerment specialist and became involved with homeless youth, youth at-risk for being homeless and run-away youth. She connected with youth on the streets helping find community resources to make their lives easier, offer a bottle of water or even a pair of dry socks.
Cindy founded TheShop (The Brainerd Baxter Youth Center) in 2010 in response to a lack of safe spaces in the community for such youth. She combined her passion for youth development and her experience in the business world to build a space for youth to feel welcome and where “Loitering will remain a welcome activity”.
Nathan grew up all over Minnesota and parts of Illinois as a kid before settling in Aitkin Minnesota in the sixth grade. He graduated from Aitkin High School in 1999. He tried a number of different jobs from factory work to Grand Casino, landscaping and construction.
After being laid off in 2009, Nathan began college for the first time enrolling at Central Lakes College and worked towards his A.A. He concentrated on Psychology and Sociology and in the spring of 2013 he graduated with honors. Nathan is now working towards his B.A. in Social Work through the College of St. Scholastica.
At TheShop Nathan is active in programs such as SoberTrip, Game Night and The Bicycle Recycle Program. Nathan involves youth volunteering for community clean-up efforts as well as community events such Walk a Mile in Her Shoes and Ruby’s pantry. He schedules events for the youth such as live music and barbecues.
With the support of the staff, the community and the youth themselves Nathan believes that TheShop will continue to grow and expand to reach more and more youth. Creative ideas, positive mentorship and a helping hand will do a lot of good for youth at TheShop and the community.
Matthew grew up right here in Brainerd Minnesota and graduated from Brainerd High School in 2012. Originally one of the youth visiting TheShop, he’s kept himself involved since 2011.
After two years of supporting TheShop’s PCs for People program as an Americorp VISTA(Volunteers In Service To America) he now is involved with maintaining TheShop’s daily activities and programs.
Over the years, Matthew has seen the monumental impact that a positive environment can have on youth and young adults. He’s passionate about TheShop and how much it benefits the community.
Hey, I’m Anna Pflepsen and I’m 15. I’ve been coming to the shop since about January 2018 and quickly fell in love with everyone and how this space impacts the lives of our community members. I enjoy music, art, and fashion very much and am currently in band, choir, and art club. Whenever I’m not busy with all that fun stuff I am out in the community volunteering and coming up with new activities for my fellow shop members to do.
ISD 181 School Resource Officer from the Brainerd Police Department
Join The Board
Contact us if you are interested in helping support all our kids.