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Jul 11, 2017

Employee Spotlight— Eca-Etabo Wasongolo

Eca-Etabo Wasongolo bends down and picks an amaranth plant that is growing in a Village Gardens’ plot on Sauvie Island. Three families grow the vegetable, along with many other African vegetables, as part of the Village Gardens’ Market Gardener Program.

Designed to support families in launching a small farm business, the Market Gardener Program provides donated land, free water, vegetable starts, tilling support and business training. Wasongolo has been the community organizer at Village Gardens for seven years and, more recently, working with the Market Gardener families to help them launch their small businesses. “Village Gardens helps each family business define their goals and work with them on each step, beginning with planning their garden, preparing the garden beds, harvesting and taking the produce to market,” says Wasongolo.

Market Gardeners sell at the New Columbia and St. Johns Farmers Markets and Village Market. As the vegetables get ready for harvest, Wasongolo shows gardeners how to trim, weigh, bundle and price the vegetables for sale at the Farmers Market. The families in the Market Gardener program are from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. They grow hard-to-find vegetables from their native countries in Africa, such as fresh amaranth, mbonga bujungu or “MB veggie”— as well as African eggplants, kale, peas, cabbage, beans, squash and tomatoes.

Wasongolo, along with other Village Gardens staff, is a critical link in helping each gardener and their families learn the skills necessary to run a successful small farm business. His role as a Community Organizer for Village Gardens is to work alongside Community Leaders who live in Cathedral Gardens, New Columbia and Tamaracks Apartment affordable housing communities to support leadership in community-led food projects. In addition to the Market Gardener Program on Sauvie Island, Wasongolo also collaborates with residents on the Seeds of Harmony Community Garden and Fruits of Diversity orchard in New Columbia and the New Beginnings Garden in Cathedral Gardens.

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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.”

Nov 29, 2017
Youth Spotlight—Roger

For most of his life, 18-year old Roger did not fit in. Although he did well academically at school, most of his peers avoided him. “I had a ‘stay away from me’ aura and people didn’t like me,” says Roger as he reflects back on his elementary and high school years. Roger grew up in Salem with two older brothers. His parents got divorced when he was six. By fifth grade, he was experiencing depression and would lock himself up in his room all day. “My mom forced me to cook so she could see me.”

Nov 16, 2017
Visit The Sharing Tree at Washington Square Mall & Look for Janus Youth With the Red Dot on Gift Tag

The Sharing Tree at Washington Square Mall is a great way to make sure each of our youth has a gift to open on Christmas morning. Just pick an ornament from the tree located in the Nordstrom wing, near Williams-Sonoma and purchase the item listed on the tag. Return the unwrapped gifts to the Sharing Tree by December 20th so the gifts can be delivered by Christmas. These gifts are distributed to Janus and eight other charities throughout the Portland metro area. Each year, more than 4,500 gifts are given to those in need through the Washington Square Sharing Tree.

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