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Apr 19, 2018

Employee Spotlight—Chelsea Willis

Working with LGBTQ youth on a farm had been a dream of Chelsea Willis and was the basis of her college thesis at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “All the things I wrote about, I am doing now at the Rivera House,” says Chelsea. “While the Rivera House doesn’t have a farm, there are raised beds where residents have the opportunity to grow vegetables and herbs.” Chelsea, too, has been able to grow—professionally— by combining her talent and expertise in challenging, new ways. According to Deven Edgerton, Rivera House Director, “Chelsea has been a crucial employee in getting the Rivera House up and running.”

The Rivera House is our newest residential and re-entry program designed to address the needs and rights of LGBTQ youth who are transitioning to independence from the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority. Working with highly trained staff like Chelsea and her team, LGBTQ young adults receive support, connection to appropriate services in a safe, nurturing environment. Youth reside in the Rivera House for typically 4-7 months before they graduate and move out on their own.

Chelsea played an instrumental role in not only helping to open the Rivera House last summer, but also in creating new policies for the unique program focused on the needs of LGBTQ youth. As the first program of its kind in Oregon, Rivera House did not have any residential program models to look to for best practices, so the staff created their own.

Chelsea was the perfect person to help launch the program, because of her passion for supporting LGBTQ youth and her experience working in our Annex I and Annex II residential programs as a skills mentor and coordinator. Grounded in her expertise working with residents in an independent living program, along with her understanding of LGBTQ necessities, Chelsea helped designed new policies for Rivera House that met youths’ needs as well as the Oregon Youth Authority’s requirements. “Getting makeup, new transgender clothing, hormones and other medical attention— these are unique conditions affecting the LGBTQ population.”

Before becoming a supervisor, Chelsea started out a Skills Coordinator at Rivera House. In that role, she helped youth get information from doctors on surgeries, helped identify LGBTQ –friendly companies, assisted with job searches and helped them become aware of available safe and supportive community resources. In her role as supervisor, Chelsea now focuses on program administration, creating ways to meet the needs of the residents while operating within the structure of the Rivera House policies.

Chelsea loves the moments in her job when the residents open up and start to bond with staff members. Says Chelsea, “one time when I drove up in the driveway, a resident ran outside and said hi to me. Some of the youth never had positive adult relationships in their lives. Seeing them move out to their own place is also great to witness and watch the process unfold.” 

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Jul 03, 2018
Play Golf And Support Janus Youth!

Join us for a fun-filled afternoon of golf, contests, awards, lunch and dinner at the Riverside Golf & Country Club for the The Herm Gilliam Memorial Golf Tournament for Kids on August 13th. Register today!. More than a great afternoon of golf, the Herm Gilliam Memorial Golf Tournament for Kids is about changing lives and building futures for 6,000 youth each year. A member of the Trail Blazers 1976-77 NBA Championship Team, Herm served on Janus' Board of Directors and chaired our Scholarship Fund. With his passing, the community lost a true friend and one of its greatest treasures. 

Jul 02, 2018
Join Us For Dinner In The Vines Next Month

Join us at ArborBrook Vineyards Saturday, August 18, 2018 from 4-8 p.m. for a Pacific Northwest infused, four-course dinner, selected wine pourings and live jazz as you sit amongst the vines and celebrate the end of summer. In addition to having a wonderful evening, you will be helping to change lives and build futures for 6,000 youth we serve each year. For information, contact Rosalie Karp at 503-542-4605 or email her at: rkarp@janusyouth.org. You can download the reservation card here. For a look at the menu, click here.

Jun 26, 2018
Scholarships Awarded to Our Youth

Paying for education is hard on many young people, but it is particularly difficult for youth in our programs who do not have the financial resources or support to pay for their education. Janus’ Scholarships for Success Program helps to ease that financial burden. Now in its 17th year, the program opens the door to education for Janus youth. Since 2001, when the scholarship program began, 97 scholarships have been awarded. On June 25, 2018, the Janus Board of Directors, staff and community members honored 9 youth in our programs who received scholarship awards at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland.

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