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Mar 30, 2017

Cowlitz County Street Outreach

Living in cars. Moving from motel to motel with their families while struggling to stay in school. That is what 1 in 20 Cowlitz County youth face daily. According to a report published by the Washington State superintendent’s office in 2016, youth homelessness in Cowlitz County is growing faster than any other county in Washington. Seeking a solution to address this issue, Cowlitz County partners contacted Janus for help in creating a street outreach program. Janus responded quickly and launched a program in October 2016 that addresses the needs of the county while gaining insights into the barriers experienced by unstably housed youth.

The program has really taken off. Walking an average of 4 miles a day, outreach workers have made over 500 contacts with homeless youth on the streets, in the woods and in rural camps. According to Tynna Purtteman, Program Supervisor for Cowlitz Street Youth Services, “many of these youth are couch-surfers, live in cars, motels or camp in tents.” Tynna, a Cowlitz County native, has worked with the juvenile justice and mental health services for 15 years, so she knows how to bridge the gap for youth to help them get services they need. Says Tynna, “in Cowlitz County, we are the only provider working with homeless youth. That has helped us get a lot of community support.”

Along with street outreach, Tynna and her team set up stationary outreach in three high schools. “Over time, we are establishing relationships with homeless youth, connecting them to appropriate services available in the county. We help them with employment, ID cards, clothing, alternative education and keeping on track in school. One of the biggest issues youth under the age of 18 face is that many services are not available to them without a guardian. They can’t get a food box or health insurance,” says Tynna.

Janus plans to expand the scope of the program’s services by opening a new outreach center in Longview, WA this summer. The center will be similar to the Perch—located in downtown Vancouver, WA—offering a safe space for youth while providing them with basic needs such as meals, showers, laundry facilities, internet and phone access. The center’s services help normalize the feeling of being safe indoors with staff who can provide direct linkages to services to meet their unique needs in supporting them from exiting the streets. Janus also hopes to open a resource center where community services will be conveniently available to homeless youth.

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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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