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Nov 17, 2015

Janus 43rd Annual Dinner Honors Staff and Community Partners


(Top left, left to right: Noah Schultz, OYA Director Fariborz Pakseresht, Dennis Morrow, Maryalice Russell; Top right, left to right: Dennis Morrow and Clean And Safe members Bill Sinnott, Dave Hamilton, Lynnae Berg, Jay McIntyre, Clay Cooper; Bottom left, left to right: Dennis Morrow, Lieutenant Mike Frome, Sergeant Jim Quackenbush, Officer Justin Damerville, Officer Jason Carper, Officer Jonathan Richardson, Janus Board Member Michael Buonocore; Bottom right, left to right: John Bakkensen, Gilda Powell, Janus Board Member Tom Fink) 

Janus Youth Programs hosted its 43rd Annual Dinner last week to celebrate the exceptional contributions and dedication of Janus staff and our community partners.

Dennis Morrow, Janus Youth Programs’ Executive Director, presented the David G. Fitzpatrick Spirit Award to Fariborz Pakseresht, Director of the Oregon Youth Authority. The award honors the memory of Dave Fitzpatrick, a long-time Janus board member, and his unwavering commitment to help the children, youth and families Janus serves. Dennis recognized Fariborz as a leader in the field of juvenile justice and evidence-based programming to reduce recidivism rates and improve positive outcomes for youth in correctional systems.

“Fariborz has a personal vision for our communities, he has a personal commitment to the families of the youth in his system and he truly cares about the young men and women in his custody. He has been willing to take the risks necessary to change the system from the ground up: closing institutions and moving youth into community programs, hiring clinical chiefs instead of jail chiefs, and piloting the Hope Partnership to bring adult role models inside the institution to interact and work with the youth,” Dennis said.

Dave Fitzpatrick’s wife, Maryalice Russell, Superintendent of the McMinnville School District, helped present the award along with current Hope Partnership youth Noah Schultz, who attended to help honor Fariborz with his own remarks, thanking Fariborz for believing in him. Read more about the  Hope Partnership and Noah’s recent TEDxSalem talk here.

The John Zuercher Champions for Children Award, presented by Home Forward Executive Director and Janus Board Member Michael Buonocore, recognized two organizations whose contributions had a significant impact on the homeless and runaway youth Janus serves: the City of Portland Police Bureau and Downtown Clean And Safe. Their contributions totaling $45,000 kept the doors open for our  Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach Program last year when our federal funding was interrupted. Their partnership and support truly created a safer and healthier community. Read more about the Clean And Safe District and their donation here.

Gilda Powell and the Kiwanis Club of Portland received this year’s Helen Reser Bakkensen Award, presented by Janus Board Member Tom Fink and Helen’s son, John Bakkensen. In the mid-1980s at age 70, Helen led the charge to ensure that Portland’s homeless youth would have a safe place to sleep at night and the help they needed to get off the streets. Gilda and the Kiwanis Club of Portland have been donating socks and supplies for homeless youth for the past 25 years. Beyond the significance of the number of years Gilda has gathered donations, is the fact that she traces her service directly to Helen Reser Bakkensen.  Read our recent Volunteer Spotlight for the full story on how Gilda and Helen met and partnered to care for youth experiencing homelessness.

Fourteen Janus staff members were recognized for reaching a length of service milestone. Helen Sprengel, Sonja McGrew, Andrea Siede, Jason Sutherland, Devin Vaughn, Eca Etabo Wasongolo and Heather Wilkins each reached five years of service. Jamal McKenzie, Peter Thorpe and Ian Yee reached 10 years of service, and Jack Davidson, Kevin Donegan and Martha Watson reached 15 years.

Dennis Morrow, Janus Youth Programs’ Executive Director also received a length of service award for 35 years. Kevin Huish, president of the Janus Board of Directors, shared a special tribute to Dennis from board members, each speaking of their respect and admiration of his dedication to our community’s youth. 

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Dec 12, 2018
Visit The Sharing Tree at Washington Square Mall & Look for Janus Youth With the Red Dot on Gift Tag

The Sharing Tree at Washington Square Mall is a great way to make sure each of our youth has a gift to open on Christmas morning. Just pick an ornament from the tree located in the Nordstrom wing, near Williams-Sonoma and purchase the item listed on the tag. These gifts are distributed to Janus and eight other charities throughout the Portland metro area. Each year, more than 4,500 gifts are given to those in need through the Washington Square Sharing Tree. 

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.

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