CoffeeShop Chronicles: The fighter for the kids nobody wants

Everyone has a story that should be told about themselves, their neighborhood, or someone they know. Occasionally, I set up at a table in a coffee shop and interview people who stop in. Today, I set up at the SugaRush Coffee Shop on University Avenue in St. Paul. Here’s another story:


Good luck trying to label Dane Jorento. He’s got a fair number of abbreviations after his name, none of which means “writer of children’s books.” He’s published a few of them.

“Which one of these (abbreviations) is the real you?” I asked him.

“None of them,” he said. He’s a mental health therapist with a practice on St. Paul’s University Avenue. He specializes in treatment for lower-functioning adults who have inappropriate sexual behaviors. “It’s such a frustrating process because nobody wants to deal with them. They’re the modern-day lepers,” he said.

He has his victories. Just the other day, he said, he was working with a young woman who said her boyfriend was urging her to cut her dependency on her mother and depend on him instead. After questioning her more, he told her what the boyfriend was up to. He wanted to be her pimp. That’s one less woman forced into prostitution.

It is, obviously, a frustrating line of work. Is he making a difference?

“I have two answers to that,” he said. “One is I really don’t care. It’s like you have to live your life. But on the other hand, one of the kids I worked with… I get an e-mail from his mom saying, ‘he just got married. He’s doing awesome. And if it wasn’t for you, he’d be dead.’ It came at a time when I was wondering if I should just close the business because it’s such a hassle to fight with counties, and states, and agencies, for people that nobody wants.”

Then he thought again about what label applies to him. “Fighter,” he said.

“I don’t need to beat my head against the wall and fight this. But, I like it.”

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