In the Community: Janus Youth Programs

NW Natural nonprofit Programs of Focus 2017-2019

 

Changing lives, building futures

When it comes to helping young people most at risk, Janus Youth Programs operates on the front lines. The nonprofit works with teens many of us don’t see: runaways, young parents and those who have suffered abuse or have been incarcerated.

As the largest provider of services to high-risk adolescents and young adults in the Northwest, Janus serves approximately 6,000 young people in Oregon and Washington each year. Those services include providing shelter for 200 youth each night and working with 400 young people every day.

At a youth-run organic farm on Sauvie Island, young people learn all aspects of the farming business through the Janus Village Gardens program.
At a youth-run organic farm on Sauvie Island, young people learn all aspects of the farming business through the Janus Village Gardens program.

With a network of 40 programs that address both immediate and longer-term needs, the Portland-based organization brings stability to the youth it serves, helping them get on track to leading safe, healthy and productive lives.

One of those programs is Hope Partnership, which helps young men transition back into the community after being incarcerated. Noah Schultz, a Janus client, was taken into custody at age 17. Today he is a 23-year-old poet, writer and aspiring entrepreneur with a TEDx talk under his belt. He credits the program – a partnership between Janus and Oregon Youth Authority – with helping him follow his aspirations and encouraging others to do the same.

Incarcerated as a teenager, Noah Schultz credits Janus with helping him turn his life around and pursue his dreams through the Hope Partnership.
Incarcerated as a teenager, Noah Schultz credits Janus with helping him turn his life around and pursue his dreams through the Hope Partnership.

Village Gardens, another Janus initiative, is a community food program rooted in affordable housing. Its defining feature is a network of gardens that provide fresh fruit and vegetables to neighbors who live in North Portland affordable housing communities. Since it took root in 2000, the garden space has grown from 9,000 square feet to 52,000 square feet. A community-run market that carries healthy groceries and a youth-run organic farm on Sauvie Island are also part of the multi-faceted program.

On the Sauvie Island farm, Janus youth learn the organic farming business, which opens the door to education and career opportunities. As a testament to the farm’s success, two Janus farm employees were accepted to the intensely competitive Gates Millennium Scholars program that gives low-income youth the chance to earn a college degree.

Over the years, Dennis Morrow, Janus executive director, has seen many young people overcome daunting obstacles. “The homeless kids in particular are hard to reach, but once we do, the success rate is high,” he said. “It takes brains and resiliency to survive on the street. We give them the tools to put their strengths to work so they can succeed.”

Janus Youth Programs is one of NW Natural’s five nonprofit Programs of Focus for 2017-2019. The organization will receive $35,000 per year for three years from our Corporate Philanthropy Fund, plus in-kind resources and volunteer support from NW Natural employees.

»Would you like to help Janus make a difference for young people? Visit Janus Youth Programs to learn how to help feed homeless youth at a shelter, donate items from their wish list, or make an online contribution.