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May 22, 2018

Eighth Grader Organizes Race For Janus Youth

When 14-year-old Bella told her mother she wanted to organize her own “Family Fun Run” to benefit Janus Youth Programs, her mom thought, “Why don’t you just run in a race instead?” But Bella had a vision and a strong drive to organize the event herself, which she did on May 20th at the Wilson High School track. Every detail of the event—from garnering donations for swag items, applying for a grant to help offset costs, organizing a bake sale, to publicity—Bella planned with support from family and friends. The event was a big success and raised close to $1,000 for Janus.

Bella is an eighth grader at the Portland Jewish Academy which requires each eighth grade student to complete a capstone project that focuses on making the world a better place. When planning for her capstone, Bella met with her teacher who shared a list of non-profit organizations in the Portland area. When her teacher explained the mission and goals of Janus, Bella immediately felt connected. She had a personal reason for her draw to Janus—someone close to her has been struggling with addiction and homelessness. Wanting to find a way to help, Bella decided to support an organization like Janus that helps at-risk youth and gives them a path to change their lives and build a new future.

Having run in various races herself, Bella was familiar with all the elements needed to make her race successful and was ready to take on the challenge. She made a colorful flyer and took it to every store in Multnomah Village. Five of the store owners were so moved by her enthusiasm that they donated items for the raffle. She got the word out about the event using her mother’s and her own Facebook and Instagram connections. She solicited help from her friends to do face painting, help bake cookies and register people for the event. Bella did not leave out a single detail. She even typed out a script for each friend registering folks, providing information on the race, games and raffle. Her younger sister, Gabi, was her right-hand person, supporting her in planning and running the race. Gabi added an unexpected donation when she found a $100 dollar bill on their school grounds. Gabi gave the money to the school office but when no one claimed it, the school said she could donate it to a non-profit organization. Gabi included it in the donation to Janus.

When Bella looks back at the success of her fundraiser, she feels pride. “I realized that if I put my mind to something, it can really happen,” says Bella. She is thrilled that she could get other people in her community excited about doing something that benefits others.

When she looks ahead to her life as a high school student next year, Bella hopes to be able to help eighth graders to launch a fundraising event and she plans to continue helping end youth homelessness in whatever ways she can. 

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