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Jul 11, 2017

Employee Spotlight— Eca-Etabo Wasongolo

Eca-Etabo Wasongolo bends down and picks an amaranth plant that is growing in a Village Gardens’ plot on Sauvie Island. Three families grow the vegetable, along with many other African vegetables, as part of the Village Gardens’ Market Gardener Program.

Designed to support families in launching a small farm business, the Market Gardener Program provides donated land, free water, vegetable starts, tilling support and business training. Wasongolo has been the community organizer at Village Gardens for seven years and, more recently, working with the Market Gardener families to help them launch their small businesses. “Village Gardens helps each family business define their goals and work with them on each step, beginning with planning their garden, preparing the garden beds, harvesting and taking the produce to market,” says Wasongolo.

Market Gardeners sell at the New Columbia and St. Johns Farmers Markets and Village Market. As the vegetables get ready for harvest, Wasongolo shows gardeners how to trim, weigh, bundle and price the vegetables for sale at the Farmers Market. The families in the Market Gardener program are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. They grow hard-to-find vegetables from their native countries in Africa, such as fresh amaranth, mbonga bujungu or “MB veggie”— as well as African eggplants, kale, peas, cabbage, beans, squash and tomatoes.

Wasongolo, along with other Village Gardens staff, is a critical link in helping each gardener and their families learn the skills necessary to run a successful small farm business. His role as a Community Organizer for Village Gardens is to work alongside Community Leaders who live in Cathedral Gardens, New Columbia and Tamaracks Apartment affordable housing communities to support leadership in community-led food projects. In addition to the Market Gardener Program on Sauvie Island, Wasongolo also collaborates with residents on the Seeds of Harmony Community Garden and Fruits of Diversity orchard in New Columbia and the New Beginnings Garden in Cathedral Gardens.

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Nov 28, 2018
Ending Youth Homelessness

Every night, our downtown Portland shelters are home to youth ages 16-24 who have no other place to go. Youth often line up outside the door at 8:30 pm, hoping to get a bed and a meal for the night. Not everyone gets in. With a limit of 60 beds, the shelter can only accommodate 60 youth each night. During the winter months, there are an additional 10 beds. This year alone, the shelters housed and fed over 500 youth. While our shelters are running at full capacity and our street outreach workers are out every night providing warm clothing and crisis-intervention services, there are some positive shifts affecting the numbers and demographics of homeless youth in Multnomah County.

Nov 26, 2018
​Employee Spotlight—Gina McConnell

Gina knows what it feels like to run away. She did it at age 12 to avoid abuse at home, but like so many youth on the street, she quickly became a target for sex trafficking. After many years “in the life,” she spent time in prison where she befriended a person who said to her when she was released, “I need you to go out there and be our voice.” This was a pivotal moment for Gina and from that point on, she was committed to helping youth who have experienced similar trauma as she did. Today she works in the Cowlitz County Youth Services Program as a case manager for sexually-exploited youth. We talked to Gina to find out how her experiences has prepared her for this role.

Nov 12, 2018
Share The Season Of Giving

It's not too early to start thinking about giving for the holidays. Over 600 children and youth call Janus Youth Programs home every day. You can make their season brighter. Here are a few ideas:

  • Adopt a shelter or residential program: Provide gifts ($40 or less) for 12 youth in Portland or Vancouver/Cowlitz. We will provide a holiday wish list with names and ages.
  • Make a tax-deductible donation and leave the shopping to us!
  • Organize a donation drive: Purchase new blankets, jackets, socks or winter weather gear for homeless youth in need.

Contact us by completing this form and email to januscommunications@janusyouth.org.

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