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Feb 08, 2017

Covers and Blankets Benefit Concert for Janus Youth

One snowy winter day, Christian Parkinson looked out his apartment window and reflected on his good fortune to be inside and warm. But as quickly as the snow fell, he realized that there were many people less fortunate, living out on the streets in the freezing cold. So he decided to do something to help. That was fourteen years ago when Christian started his “Covers and Blankets” fundraiser for Janus Youth. Each year in January, Christian organizes a benefit concert where a group of up to 300 people bring a donation of a blanket or warm clothing for Janus Youth while enjoying an evening of relaxing with friends and listening to live music performances.

Christian came up with the idea of “Covers and Blankets” because, as a musician, with many friends in the musical world who do cover songs or produce music, he knew he could quickly organize a benefit concert. He contacted friends who were happy to help. They donated sound equipment, provided a venue and helped organize the first “Covers and Blankets” benefit concert in 2004. It was a great success and within a couple of years, Christian was looking for a bigger space. For the past few years, Gustav Sculptor and Richard Cawley, owners of Manifestation, a creative space in SE Portland, have hosted the event. Christian, along with his team, produce the benefit concert, including getting fire permits, moving and setting up sound equipment, organizing the set list and collecting the cover charge to offset the cost of hosting the event. He doesn’t spend a penny on advertising; he promotes the concert with FaceBook postings and by word of mouth. After the concert, Christian and friends fill a van with all the donations and bring them to the Janus office where they are quickly distributed to our homeless shelters. According to Roy Spencer, Supervisor of the Porch Light Homeless Crisis Shelter, “these blankets couldn’t come at a better time. With one of the coldest winters we have had in years, there is a higher demand for blankets than ever.”

Knowing that he can make a difference gives Christian a great feeling of satisfaction. He says, “I could sit around and feel down in the dumps thinking about things that are out of my control, but if I help others, I feel good. It is an immediate impact. I really believe that helping other is part of my civic and moral duty.” Christian admits that he likes to help people he doesn’t know because it allows him to give without an expectation of receiving something in return. Says Christian, “Helping others makes me feel good in a way nothing else does.”

Thanks to Christian and his community of music friends, many cold youth have a warm blanket to cover themselves on these cold winter nights.


Mar 01, 2018
Board of Directors Member Spotlight – Todd Allais

We welcomed Todd Allais onto the Janus Board of Directors in January this year. Born in Portland and raised in Vancouver, WA., Todd has lived in the Portland metropolitan area his whole life and has deep roots in the community. Todd enjoys running, cooking and keeping up with his two teenage children. Todd is an Account Manager at CenturyLink.

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.

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