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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.


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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