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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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May 22, 2017
Scholarships Awarded To Our Youth

On May 17th, the Janus Board of Directors, staff and community members honored 15 youth in our programs who were recipients of our scholarship awards. Now in its sixteenth year, the scholarships open the door to education for our youth by helping to pay for school expenses such as tuition, books and rent.

This year’s scholarship recipients are from an array of Janus programs including Insights Teen Parent Program, Imani House, Changes, Annex I, Harry’s Mother and Hope Partnership. Special thanks to Robert Gootee and Moda Health for their support in launching the Scholarship Fund in 2001 and to Joanne Senders—a generous donor who established the Joanne Senders Scholarship Fund.  

Photo: Left to right: Jeremy Ericksen, Thomas Spisla, Christian Ford, Griffin Thomas, Robert Gootee, Gustavo Portillo-Soto, Fariborz Pakseresht, Dennis Morrow and Dalon Murray. Not pictured: Alejandra Hernandez, Nicholas Schafer, Elishah Eduardo Asbaugh, Johnathan Baker, Cayce French, Robert Miller, Agustin Estrada-Vargas, Ezequiel Vasquez, and Bailey Allman.

May 08, 2017
Youth Voices—In Their Own Words

My experience at Cordero House was one of the most significant events to have happened to me. Let me start with a background of who I am. I came from a small village in the countryside of El Salvador. At a young age, I learned to be independent, going to school and helping with the daily chores. I moved to the city for a very brief moment before flying to the U.S. At first, I felt strange and overwhelmed with everyone and everything around me. As time went by, I found myself in a state of confusion. Alone, I had no one to turn to ask for help. Instead, I did things that to this day I regret. Such events led to me spending time in a youth corrections facility.

May 01, 2017
Employee Spotlight—Angie Corll

Angie knows what it feels like to run away. She did it for years, running away from abusive and neglectful homes, opting for freedom and danger of the streets over security. This life on the run led her down many dark paths for years until she became the kid that no one wanted to take in. Finally, in 1993, with the help of her probation officer, she entered a Janus residential program. That was a turning point. Says Angie, “I was blessed to have been given a second chance.” Now she works as a Youth Care Specialist at our Oak Grove shelter in SW Washington, helping youth who are facing similar life crisis as she did. We talked to Angie to find out how her experiences has prepared her to serve our youth.

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