Friends, You are probably aware that at Jackson Street Youth Shelter, we help youth in crisis by providing basic needs such as a warm bed, food to eat, and practical help. You may even know that we also provide family mediation, tutoring, mentoring, positive activities, skill-building, and knowledgeable staff to talk to. But what you might not know is…
We are not the end all!
What!?! Why would I say such a thing in a fundraising letter? Because it’s true. It’s so important to work as part of an integrated, whole community. We help these youth as a team with other agencies, non-profits, businesses, volunteers, and YOU to meet basic needs — and much more.
= Female, 17 years old, from Monroe
How did she come to us? How did we help?
What is her situation now?
WE FIRST STARTED SERVING L MORE THAN TWO YEARS AGO when her parents were battling their way through a nasty divorce. L was caught in the crossfire, feeling that both parents blamed her for their marital problems. After the divorce and some residential treatment for depression, L began living with her father. It didn’t go well, and a few months back he kicked her out, so L came back to Jackson Street for an extended stay. L ENTERED JSYSI’S Transitional Living Program where she found the stable environment she needs to focus on her personal goals and become more self-sufficient. Megan (her Case Manager, on the right in the picture above) has helped L to define her goals and work toward achieving them. While living at the shelter, L has: studied for her GED, begun attending our Independent Living Skills Workshops, learned a great deal about cooking and nutrition, and has received medical and dental care. She sent for a copy of her birth certificate, and got her Oregon ID card from the DMV. THROUGH DEVELOPING HEALTHY WORKING RELATIONSHIPS with JSYSI staff, L has begun to evolve into a responsible young adult, better able to make positive choices. She had originally hoped to move to her own apartment when she leaves the shelter, but L now realizes she still needs some help from family. She’s endeavoring to repair family relationships, and she’s planning to move to her mother’s home. L remains focused on her future will continue to work with our staff in Outreach Services after she leaves.
= 17-year-old male from Lebanon
How did he come to us? How did we help?
What is his situation now?
N’S MOTHER CALLED US IN THE MIDST OF A CRISIS, asking JSYSI to help her find a temporary living arrangement for her son. N had been staying at a drug treatment facility, but the insurance coverage ran out and N’s mom was told that she had an hour to pick up her son and find him someplace else to stay. N was doing well in treatment, but wasn’t anywhere near ready to return home and interact with his family. JSYSI WAS ABLE TO HELP OUT by providing a 72-hour respite stay in Emergency Shelter for N. This meant that the family had some time to prepare for N’s return home and to look for other treatment options, and N had a safe, stable, and sober environment where he could stay. While N spent time with us, the family was able to connect with the local school district to enroll him in a special program, and JSYSI provided a referral to another treatment facility for longer-term help with his sobriety issues. BEFORE N CHECKED OUT OF SHELTER, JSYSI staff worked with mother and son to craft a safety plan to use if a crisis occurred while N was at home waiting for his new residential program. N also enrolled in our Aftercare Services, so that our staff could follow up with weekly calls to N and his family to make sure their plans are staying on track, and to offer assistance if problems arise.
= Male from Corvallis, 16 years old
How did he come to us?
How did we help?
WHEN J FIRST STARTED RECEIVING SERVICES from Jackson Street Youth Shelter more than two years ago, he had multiple problems. He was on probation and his behavior was often inappropriate. He would verbally test people he interacted with – talking outrageously to see if he could spark a negative reaction. He had no strong male role-model in his life, and felt he was constantly bullied at school for the way he looked, talked, and acted. J also reported some odd interactions he was having in intimate relationships and it seemed that some of the people he wanted to be close to were taking advantage of him. During weekly wraparound meetings (sessions with representatives of all the agencies involved in helping J's family), J specifically stated that he was struggling with his identity and wanted someone in his life to help him work through his issues. OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST TWO YEARS, we’ve provided both Overnight Shelter and Outreach Services. When things are too crazy at home, or his mom needs a break, J can stay in shelter. When he’s living at home, he often comes to the shelter and participates in our After School Program. Throughout this time, we’ve provided Case Management, which means that a Lead Caseworker on our staff consistently works with J and his family, and coordinates services with other agencies such as the Juvenile Department and the Health Department Early in this effort, J’s case manager encouraged him to get involved with “Out and About Youth,” and suggested the family connect with PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). We also placed him on the waiting list to be matched with a JSYSI Mentor, and after several months we found a possible match, Joshua.
When we first spoke with Joshua about mentoring J, we were very honest about our concerns that J would be a challenging youth for any mentor to deal with, and we let him know that it was okay if he decided this particular match wouldn’t work. However, after their first meeting Joshua told us he felt an immediate connection to J, and was excited to continue working with him. Now Joshua and J meet at least once a week and often spend more than the required 3 hours per week together. The two of them are always willing to try new things that interest each other and they can often be found going to the movies, re-enacting the Hunger Games, and cooking together.
What is his situation now?
IN THE PAST YEAR, J HAS MADE MANY POSITIVE CHANGES in his life, with support from his mentor. Joshua has been a resource J can go to when he is feeling depressed, needs help setting boundaries with friends, or just needs time away from home. J finally completed probation this October, thanks in a large part to his mentor, who helped hold him accountable for completing the terms of his probation. Now J is transitioning back into public school from a treatment facility. Joshua has helped J learn to communicate more effectively with his peers, and to be his own advocate, so that he can deal with the public school environment. Most importantly, Joshua consistently spends time with J, allowing J to build trust with an adult male, and allowing J to feel heard and valued.
= Single father & four children, ages 8 to 14, from Philomath
How did they come to us?
JSYSI WAS MADE AWARE OF A FAMILY OF FIVE living in Philomath through the CFCC (Children and Family Coordinating Committee, led by Benton County Mental Health Department). The father is divorced and has sole custody of all 4 children; the younger three have developmental and learning disabilities. Money has been very tight for this little family, and at times their water and electricity have been cutoff. They had little furniture and no laundry facilities. The family lives in HUD-funded housing and a few weeks ago they were scheduled to have a home inspection. If they failed the inspection, they would lose their home.
How did we help?
FIRST THINGS FIRST: JSYSI WORKED TOGETHER with ACIST (A Community Integrated Service Team − also part of the Health Department) to find a little money. It only took $30 to buy supplies and help dad make a few minor repairs. This small bit of outreach helped the G family pass their inspection so they could remain in their home. JSYSI referred the family to Linn-Benton Furniture Share, and helped them put in a request for four new beds for the kids, which will be delivered soon. The Oregon Family Support Network (OFSN) commissioned JSYSI’s Outreach Manager to find affordable used laundry appliances at the Habitat For Humanity ReStore. OFSN and ACIST are working together to find funds to buy a washer and dryer. Two of the children were having problems in school and they needed tutors for a variety of subjects. JSYSI took the initiative to gather the necessary information and officially request they be assigned tutors. The father struggles with severe depression and has had difficulty finding work. Even if he could find and keep a job, he is an attentive and loving father who doesn’t want to leave the younger children to fend for themselves while he is at work. The eldest child does his best to pick up the
slack, but he’s only 14 and dad does not think it’s fair to give him so much responsibility. JSYSI staff working with the family think that mentors for each child might be able to help, so the kids are now enrolled in our program and waiting to be matched with an appropriate JSYSI mentor. One of the girls had been spending time at the Philomath Youth Activities Club (PYAC) with different friends, under the impression she was being allowed in on a free pass. As it turned out she was being charged $20 a month and when the family received a bill for $100 that they couldn’t possibly pay, she stopped going. The club is a very positive support for the family and is very close to their house, so JSYSI staff decided to contact PYAC, let them know about the family’s situation, and see what could be done. PYAC staff were very understanding and were able to waive the $100 fee and arrange scholarships for the family. This has helped alleviate some of the stress on dad, since he knows the club is a safe place for his children to hang out.
What is their situation now?
THIS FAMILY WILL CONTINUE TO FACE MANY CHALLENGES, but staff from JSYSI, ASIST, OFSN, PYAC, and the schools are all pitching in to help the children and support the dad. Dad is working with a counselor to overcome his depression so that he can be the dad he wants to be, and the kids have been connected with essential services.
These stories are real, which makes them complicated and messy − like real life is. And although one individual or organization can positively impact a life, it takes a village to provide ongoing support through a lifetime of struggles. We are stronger as a community when we work together. YOU are as much a part of this equation as anyone else. We quite literally can’t do this much-needed work without your help. Your dedication to preventing homelessness and helping support each youth on a journey to safety, stability, and self-sufficiency and is as much appreciated as it is needed. I am passionate about collaboration. It’s how we problem-solve with youth and families, and it’s how we operate as an organization. Working alone in a silo will only get you so far; it’s working together as a community that makes real change. Where would we be without you? Nowhere! Please take a moment now to make your annual donation to Jackson Street Youth Shelter, to keep these programs alive and available to the youth and families who need them. Sincerely,
Ann P. Craig Executive Director P.S. Whew! This time last year we had just celebrated our first decade of helping youth in crisis and had just received our first major federal grant. So much more has happened since then! Check out our accomplishments and learn more about the youth we serve at www.jacksonstreet.org. Coming soon to our website: JSYSI’s 2011-12 Annual Report, with more photos of the youth you’ve just read about, and a lot of information about who we are and what we do.