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Mar 09, 2017

Employee Spotlight— Roy Spencer

Every night of the week, a crowd of youth line up to get into our downtown Portland shelter where they get a warm bed and meal for the night. Preparing for their arrival every day takes a lot of work, including cooking their dinner. We talked to Roy Spencer, Porchlight Shelter Supervisor, about his job which includes managing and cleaning the shelter, doing light maintenance work and feeding up to 70 homeless youth daily. In addition to performing all of those tasks, according to his supervisor, Dennis Lundberg, “Roy will always step in when the shelter is short-staffed, going the extra mile for the staff and youth we serve. For example, this week he is on call 24/7 for 14 days straight.” Roy has been working for Janus for over three years. A soft-spoken person with an easy smile, he has earned respect from his peers and youth.

How do you start your day?

Every morning, after all the youth have left, I wash all the bedding, filling up six washer and dryers in the shelter. In between washing, I answer emails and then go into the kitchen to start meal planning. I try to reserve one or two days a week to cook meals that will last for a few days including the days I am not working. I also need to prepare meals that aren’t too complicated so I can produce enough food quickly using ingredients I have on hand. In the past, we received food donations from churches and community organizations, but that has diminished since Health Department regulations now require that donated meals be prepared in a licensed, commercial kitchen, not at home.

What are some favorite meals?

Although many of the youth like fried foods, I am limited to what I can cook, because we can’t fry, sauté or grill for safety reasons. So I make dishes like lasagna, taco casserole, vegetables and rice, which are always popular. We also have to offer vegetarian options too for the growing number of youth who don’t eat meat.

Where do you get food for the shelter?

I shop at United Grocers and Costco to get large quantities of food for our pantry and freezers. But we also get donations from bakeries, smaller grocery stores and Stumptown coffee. Occasionally I will drive to a donor to pick up a commercially-prepared meal like pizza or sandwiches. Sometimes we get donations from caterers who have extra food from an event.

What do you like most about your job?

There is always something different going on in the shelter with new youth passing through every day. It’s a dynamic environment. I have learned to be creative in dealing with the youth that come here, helping them as best I can.

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May 22, 2017
Scholarships Awarded To Our Youth

On May 17th, the Janus Board of Directors, staff and community members honored 15 youth in our programs who were recipients of our scholarship awards. Now in its sixteenth year, the scholarships open the door to education for our youth by helping to pay for school expenses such as tuition, books and rent.

This year’s scholarship recipients are from an array of Janus programs including Insights Teen Parent Program, Imani House, Changes, Annex I, Harry’s Mother and Hope Partnership. Special thanks to Robert Gootee and Moda Health for their support in launching the Scholarship Fund in 2001 and to Joanne Senders—a generous donor who established the Joanne Senders Scholarship Fund.  

Photo: Left to right: Jeremy Ericksen, Thomas Spisla, Christian Ford, Griffin Thomas, Robert Gootee, Gustavo Portillo-Soto, Fariborz Pakseresht, Dennis Morrow and Dalon Murray. Not pictured: Alejandra Hernandez, Nicholas Schafer, Elishah Eduardo Asbaugh, Johnathan Baker, Cayce French, Robert Miller, Agustin Estrada-Vargas, Ezequiel Vasquez, and Bailey Allman.

May 08, 2017
Youth Voices—In Their Own Words

My experience at Cordero House was one of the most significant events to have happened to me. Let me start with a background of who I am. I came from a small village in the countryside of El Salvador. At a young age, I learned to be independent, going to school and helping with the daily chores. I moved to the city for a very brief moment before flying to the U.S. At first, I felt strange and overwhelmed with everyone and everything around me. As time went by, I found myself in a state of confusion. Alone, I had no one to turn to ask for help. Instead, I did things that to this day I regret. Such events led to me spending time in a youth corrections facility.

May 01, 2017
Employee Spotlight—Angie Corll

Angie knows what it feels like to run away. She did it for years, running away from abusive and neglectful homes, opting for freedom and danger of the streets over security. This life on the run led her down many dark paths for years until she became the kid that no one wanted to take in. Finally, in 1993, with the help of her probation officer, she entered a Janus residential program. That was a turning point. Says Angie, “I was blessed to have been given a second chance.” Now she works as a Youth Care Specialist at our Oak Grove shelter in SW Washington, helping youth who are facing similar life crisis as she did. We talked to Angie to find out how her experiences has prepared her to serve our youth.

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