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Apr 04, 2017

Employee Spotlight—Terrell Berry

Every day, homeless youth struggle to survive on the streets. Terrell Berry, Outreach Specialist for our Washington State Program knows what it feels like—he was once one of them. Growing up in Long Beach, California, he and his family faced bouts of homelessness. This experience led him to study sociology in college and later, provided him with the insights needed to work with at-risk youth. According to Bettina Boles, Program Supervisor for The Perch and Yellow Brick Road, WA, “Terrell is a caring listener and attuned to the empathetic needs of the youth that he works with. His unique style creates an ease for youth to engage with him, which is just a small part of what makes him such an awesome Outreach Specialist.” We talked to Terrell to find out more about how he is serving our youth in SW Washington.

What does an Outreach Specialist do?

I spend half of my time leading street outreach with Yellow Brick Road—making connections with homeless and unstably-housed youth— and the rest of my time, I support youth who come to our daily drop-in center, The Perch. In both of these roles, I try to meet youth where they are without pushing an agenda. Going to homeless camps, I always respect their space and announce myself when I arrive. Initially, I offer hygiene supplies and first aid products. I start out with something small. Once they are comfortable and if they are interested, I offer information, referrals and crisis intervention. Sometimes it takes a while to build rapport—from one week to two years before a youth may want to come to The Perch or get services. Some youth who are traveling through and are not familiar with the work of Yellow Brick Road may be very skeptical and cautious.

Working at The Perch is different because youth come to us. They know The Perch is a safe place where they can get a shower and meals. Fridays are very popular—we cook a full breakfast and watch movies. On the second Monday of each month, we drink mochas (coffee with hot chocolate) and watch movies. These events help make youth feel comfortable in The Perch and with the staff. After time, they develop enough trust to ask for help. It could be as simple as getting a bus pass to help them seek employment.

What are the biggest challenges facing homeless youth today?

Lack of resources. There are state and local funding cuts that have an impact on homeless youth. Another challenge youth is the stigma of being homeless. Obtaining important documentation to get required ID for employment is also difficult.

What do you like most about your job?

Seeing their personal successes. It could be someone who has been sober for two weeks, or left an abusive relationship. I try to help them see their personal progress and acknowledge their strengths. One day, when I was doing street outreach, I ran into a 42-year-old woman who received service from Janus when she was a youth. She said, “Yellow Brick Road saved my life.” Hearing that reassured me that this line of work is my life calling.

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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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