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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.”

When he was a high school freshman, Roger reached a breaking point and moved to his father’s house and a new school. He was treated with different medications for a few years, but they were not effective. After getting into trouble repeatedly, he was transferred to GAP—an in-between temporary residence program in Salem where he lived until he was placed into Janus' residential program, Cordero.

“The first thing staff at Cordero asked me was, “what do you want to do with your life?” No one had ever asked me that before, but I immediately said “game design.” That was the start of Roger’s journey toward a new beginning. Another huge factor that helped with his transformation was getting better medication to help his depression. Says Roger, “It was almost like I didn’t see in color before.”

Roger quickly got involved in the technology programs that Cordero offered at their on-campus school, including 3-D printing and laser engraving. It was the perfect fit for his interests and he flourished. Roger graduated high school in 2017 and will graduate from Cordero next spring. He is still pursuing his dream of becoming a game designer. He currently studies Japanese at Portland Community College to fulfill language requirements and he chose Japanese because of Japan’s leadership in game design. He plans to apply to the Game Art and Design program at the Art Institute of Design in Portland.

According to Roger, when he sees his family, “They say they would not recognize me if I didn’t look like the old me. I smile more and let people come near me. Cordero helped me change and see the world in a different way.” Roger currently volunteers at the Janus Administrative office, helping with a variety of office tasks.

Although Roger has big plans for his future, he is taking focusing on the present. “Sometimes it is too daunting to look ahead. I can get stuck in the headlights. Instead, I focus on every step, one-by-one and then look backwards.”

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Nov 28, 2018
Ending Youth Homelessness

Every night, our downtown Portland shelters are home to youth ages 16-24 who have no other place to go. Youth often line up outside the door at 8:30 pm, hoping to get a bed and a meal for the night. Not everyone gets in. With a limit of 60 beds, the shelter can only accommodate 60 youth each night. During the winter months, there are an additional 10 beds. This year alone, the shelters housed and fed over 500 youth. While our shelters are running at full capacity and our street outreach workers are out every night providing warm clothing and crisis-intervention services, there are some positive shifts affecting the numbers and demographics of homeless youth in Multnomah County.

Nov 26, 2018
​Employee Spotlight—Gina McConnell

Gina knows what it feels like to run away. She did it at age 12 to avoid abuse at home, but like so many youth on the street, she quickly became a target for sex trafficking. After many years “in the life,” she spent time in prison where she befriended a person who said to her when she was released, “I need you to go out there and be our voice.” This was a pivotal moment for Gina and from that point on, she was committed to helping youth who have experienced similar trauma as she did. Today she works in the Cowlitz County Youth Services Program as a case manager for sexually-exploited youth. We talked to Gina to find out how her experiences has prepared her for this role.

Nov 12, 2018
Share The Season Of Giving

It's not too early to start thinking about giving for the holidays. Over 600 children and youth call Janus Youth Programs home every day. You can make their season brighter. Here are a few ideas:

  • Adopt a shelter or residential program: Provide gifts ($40 or less) for 12 youth in Portland or Vancouver/Cowlitz. We will provide a holiday wish list with names and ages.
  • Make a tax-deductible donation and leave the shopping to us!
  • Organize a donation drive: Purchase new blankets, jackets, socks or winter weather gear for homeless youth in need.

Contact us by completing this form and email to januscommunications@janusyouth.org.

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