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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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Jan 18, 2018
Employee Spotlight—Washington Outreach Specialists

Every day our Outreach Specialists in Washington are busy serving homeless youth who have no one else to turn to. The team of three staff—Keeva Haverkost, Jessica Villasenor, and Jean Withers—work like a well-oiled machine, supporting each other so they can provide high quality service to youth. All of them are passionate about their work. Bettina Boles, Program Supervisor of The Perch and Yellow Brick Road Washington, says of her team, “Each person brings their unique contribution and special reason to work as an Outreach Specialist.” According to Bettina, the team has multifaceted roles— hosting The Perch—our drop-in center for youth—conducting street outreach for Yellow Brick Road, Washington and leading educational presentations that help the community better understand human trafficking and its impact in Clark County.

Jan 09, 2018
Youth Spotlight—Noah Schultz and his” Inspiring Action Tour”

Noah Schultz is a 25-year old graduate of the Hope Partnership program who served 7.5 years in the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA). While at the MacLaren Correctional Facility, Noah received two Bachelor of Arts degrees. Since his release in October 2016, he has become an outspoken youth advocate, with a passion to drive reform in our justice system, inspiring hope, action and humanizing the stories of the incarcerated. In November 2017, Noah completed a two-month “Inspiring Action Tour” at ten correctional facilities throughout the U.S. where he showed the award-winning documentary film about him, “Perception from Prison to Purpose.” He is co-owner of Forgotten Culture Clothing and co-founder of Verbal Escape. Noah spoke to us about his tour.

Dec 18, 2017
Sixth Grader Organizes Sock Drive For Janus Youth

Eleven-year old Quentin Brown organized a winter sock drive at his school, Cascade Heights Public Charter School, collecting 582 pairs of socks for our youth. This is his second year organizing the sock drive.

 Last year, Janus awarded Quentin the “Stars for Kids Award” for his contributions to our youth. Each year on his birthday, Quentin asks family members to give him gifts that he can donate to Portland’s homeless youth. Rather than getting toys and games, Quentin gets socks, water bottles, hats and scarfs that he packs up in a bin and brings down to the Janus administrative office. Last year, he even brought a little piggy bank with all of his savings and gave it to Janus. He has been doing this for seven years now. By thinking of the needs of others, he sets an example for his peers, family and community, showing the impact kids have on helping other kids. Quentin demonstrates that acts of kindness can be cultivated at a young age. 

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