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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.

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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. 

Dec 07, 2017
Employee Spotlight—Shelly Harryman

Shelly Harryman has been a dedicated Youth Care Specialist at Oak Bridge Youth Shelter in Washington since 2002. Oak Bridge Youth Shelter provides 24-hour crisis intervention and emergency shelter with services accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week for youth ages 9-17. In November, Shelly received her 15-Year Service Award from Janus. When discussing what has motivated her for the past 15 years Shelly says, “I have a passion to advocate for youth. We are their only hope.”

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