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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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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.

Dec 18, 2017
Sixth Grader Organizes Sock Drive For Janus Youth

Eleven-year old Quentin Brown organized a winter sock drive at his school, Cascade Heights Public Charter School, collecting 582 pairs of socks for our youth. This is his second year organizing the sock drive.

 Last year, Janus awarded Quentin the “Stars for Kids Award” for his contributions to our youth. Each year on his birthday, Quentin asks family members to give him gifts that he can donate to Portland’s homeless youth. Rather than getting toys and games, Quentin gets socks, water bottles, hats and scarfs that he packs up in a bin and brings down to the Janus administrative office. Last year, he even brought a little piggy bank with all of his savings and gave it to Janus. He has been doing this for seven years now. By thinking of the needs of others, he sets an example for his peers, family and community, showing the impact kids have on helping other kids. Quentin demonstrates that acts of kindness can be cultivated at a young age. 

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