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Oct 01, 2014

Youth Voices – In Their Own Words

Last year our Oak Grove shelter in Vancouver, Washington served 342 youth between the ages of 12 and 17. That’s 342 times our shelter was the only safe place for these youth, providing them refuge from the streets. One anonymous youth wrote this essay for other youth coming to Oak Grove. They allowed us to share it here.

In need of help

For all who don’t know who I am well I am a foster kid just like you! I am 16 and my biological mother is a drug addict and I have been in and out of foster care but the 3 years I've been in 11 different homes this past year, it’s not fun at all to be moving every other day it really isn't.

So listen I know how you feel, you feel upset, angry, hurt, alone, scared, mad, even wanting to die. I know I feel all of those everyday but wanting to die isn't gonna solve your problems. I learned that the hard way and I know when people will tell you that ‘it’s going to be okay’ or ‘it’s gonna get better’ You think or say ‘No it's not you don’t know me or my life’ but hey it just might.

Let people help you and parent you, don’t fight it, it will only bring you more trouble and less people in your life.

I’m saying this because I've done this. I know how hard it is for some of you who have parents who have either abandoned you or have used drugs or even did both. I know how you feel ‘Why doesn't my parent or parents care about me?!’

You may love and or hate the State for taking you away from that situation but you are better off with the State then getting hurt every day and night.

I’m always telling the state people and my social worker I hate them and they don’t know me but what they've read in my file and that I can’t wait till they’re out of my life but they are just looking out for me.

You may not like it but take advantage of it. Life is what you make of it, you can choose to stay and make it the best or you can run and move from place to place.

But in the end it’s your life you can choose whether or not to get back up.

These things you should always remember in life are:

1.  You are Beautiful / Handsome

2.  You are smart and intelligent

3.  ‘Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game’

4.  You can be anything you wanna be if you put your mind to it

5.  Be better than your parents or where you came from!

6.  Love YOURSELF!

Lastly, Be a kid enjoy it while it lasts, don’t grow up so fast and be grown so enjoy it while it lasts cause I didn’t but good luck, hope this helped you.

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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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