Monday, December 18, 2006

YBR finds Santa on outreach!

Yellow Brick Road volunteer Allen Butler and his team
ran into Santa while on outreach last Friday!

Hopefully he put in a good word for all of us...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Portland 2006 Homeless Persons Memorial Day

Yellow Brick Road has collaborated with several other local service agencies to present this year's annual Homeless Memorial Day event to take place next week. Please join us for a healing fire ceremony, a moment of silence & speakers honoring those who died on Portland's streets in 2006. This promises to be a beautiful and inspired community event. We hope to see you there.

Thursday December 21st
Outside In courtyard
1132 SW 13th

For more information contact
Street Roots at (503) 228-5657

Monday, December 04, 2006


Yellow Brick Road was founded on the very simple belief that when ordinary people care enough about their community to work together, they can literally change lives and build futures. Every night of the year Yellow Brick Road volunteers from all walks of life hit the streets of downtown Portland with clear-eyed compassion and messenger bags full of medical and hygiene supplies to meet young people living on the streets. The supplies in our outreach bags meet the immediate crisis of the evening, perhaps an unclean scrape or sore throat. But, most importantly, our supplies serve as critical relationship-building tools that often motivate those first daunting steps toward recovery. Often it is something as seemingly profane as a pair of socks or a toothbrush that young people remember as the first seed of hope and the first step toward their reintegration. And Yellow Brick Road distributes thousands of such first aid & hygiene supplies every month of the year. Without exception the most desperately sought after item, the hottest street commodity so to speak, is fresh socks. In the past 6 months Yellow Brick Road has provided more than 1,633 people with fresh socks. With a modest supply budget and such an overwhelming demand, it is no wonder that we have frequently called upon the generosity and creativity of the Portland community to help their own. The coming year is no exception and Yellow Brick Road is proud to announce our latest community sponsored supply-drive partnership...

Yellow Brick Road has joined forces with the generous young design wizards at Kamp Grizzly and Alternative Radio station KNRK (94/7 fm) in an unprecedented effort to raise a FULL YEAR'S supply of new socks for youth experiencing homelessness right here in our community! These socks will be distributed by Yellow Brick Road outreach volunteers at both Janus Youth shelters as well as on the streets, under bridges, and at various social service agencies throughout the downtown area. Over the next several weeks KNRK will be announcing convenient drop-off locations in the area and we are asking everyone to come out and simply drop one pair of brand new socks in our hampers. We hope you'll join us in our goal of keeping young people's feet a bit warmer and healthier this season. Please visit for more information and, from all of us at Janus Youth Programs, we wish you a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Project Metamorphosis

Project Metamorphosis is a collaborative effort of Janus Youth Programs, Depaul Treatment Centers, New Avenues For Youth, Outside In, and Native American Youth & Family Center (NAYA). Project Metamorphosis brings healthy options and a broad range of treatment services to homeless youth in Portland, Oregon. Project Metamorphosis engages and encourages homeless youth to exit street life with innovative outreach and customized youth-friendly services integrating alcohol & drug and mental health treatment within a comprehensive approach. One of Project Metamorphosis' innovative services is our Recovery Transition Advocates (RTA) program. Recovery Transistion Advocates are young adults serving as peer mentors, providing a critical connection and bridging services to youth and young adults alike. RTA's typically work within a specific service area during their employment, gaining important professional skills and career-development support. RTA's currently work in the homeless youth shelters, day programs, treatment facilities, and outreach services with Yellow Brick Road. Here are some photos from our most recent RTA team-building retreat at White Salmon River, Washington!

Having rowed together as a team to this point we await our guide's instructions to, "GET DOWN!" and prepare to take the plunge!




The water was about 42 degrees so we all emerged feeling quite...uh...refreshed and invigorated! This is an amazing group of RTA's and it was a pleasure working together in our rafting teams. If you are a clean & sober young adult in recovery, stay tuned for our next RTA hiring announcement in early 2007!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fall Training

Our Yellow Brick Road Fall Training was a great success! Thanks to everyone who came out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to discuss outreach and how we might increase our services to Portland's homeless youth population. Special thanks to Allen Butler for creating our new Yellow Brick Road database and providing a training for all our current volunteers! See you all at our Winter Training to be announced soon!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yellow Brick Road Training This Sunday!

Yellow Brick Road offers quarterly trainings to all outreach volunteers and program participants. These trainings are free and available to anyone over 18 in the community who may wish to learn more about the philosophy and "nuts & bolts" of Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach. Our trainings are also a great opportunity to meet the current volunteers and supervisor, learn about important updates regarding our program and homeless youth services, and ask questions. Applications will be on hand for anyone who wishes to join the team! Our next training will take place in downtown Portland THIS SUNDAY September 24th 2pm-5pm. Please R.S.V.P. for location at the email address listed below. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Potluck-in-the-Park Annual Resource Fair

Janus Youth Programs is commited to connecting our services to the broader community. To assist in this goal, Yellow Brick Road outreach workers attend the annual Potluck-in-the-Park Resource Faire every year. The 2006 Faire was held this past Sunday on the PSU campus. Once again the weather held out and our table became a sort of stationary outreach center, providing hygiene & basic first-aid supplies as well as resources and smiling faces. Youth and young adults alike were excited to see our presence and we made several critical contacts with youth who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless. As in previous years, we set up a chair at our table so people could sit and get new socks and basic foot care while they spoke to our outreach workers. The food was delicious and a great day was enjoyed by a very diverse gathering of families and individuals. Special thanks to David Utzinger, Peggy Reuler and EVERYONE who makes Potluck-in-the-Park one of the most amazing community-based meals in town. We'll see you all at next year's Resource Faire!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Star Wars

Yellow Brick Road outreach workers are trained to expect the unexpected. Because you just never know who you might meet out there...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What is 'Street Outreach'?

Street Outreach means building trust & relationships with people experiencing homelessness and poverty where they are: ON THE STREETS. Street Outreach means listening attentively, sharing harm reduction information, community resources, advocacy, & HOPE! Yellow Brick Road outreach workers walk the streets of Portland, Oregon EVERY NIGHT OF THE YEAR meeting youth and youth-identified adults who may want some assistance getting their lives on healthier & happier paths. We tend to focus on folks under 30, but remember: OUR SERVICES & SUPPLIES ARE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE IN THE PORTLAND, OREGON COMMUNITY! If you need some assistance or simply an open ear or new pair of socks and a band aid, just look for the folks carrying the bags with bright yellow patches. If you live in the Portland area and are over 18 and wish to volunteer, contact us today to get involved.

What is 'Harm Reduction'?

There is a lot of controversy and misinformation about what Yellow Brick Road outreach workers often refer to as "Harm Reduction". Some people think that harm reduction techniques, such as providing free condoms and safer drug use information, encourages (or enables) young people to have sex or use illegal drugs. This is simply not true. Yellow Brick Road utilizes harm reduction principles because we recognize that some people in our community will choose to have sex and/or use illegal drugs whether these behaviors are safe, ethical, lawful or NOT. We recognize that behavior such as illegal drug use represents a continuum of choices from abstinence (or non-use) on one end of the spectrum, to severe abuse or even serious illness and death on the other. Yellow Brick Road simply chooses to look realistically (and non-judgementally) at an individual's choices in an effort to provide tools, techniques, and resources to make such behavior more safe while we attempt to motivate healthier lifestyle changes. Yellow Brick Road believes that harm reduction principles offer effective & thoughtful (even economical) responses to health crisises in our community. In an effort to further demystify and explain harm reduction, the following information is excerpted from the Harm Reduction Coalition's 'Principles of Harm Reduction'. For more info about harm reduction contact HRC.

Principles of Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a set of practical actions that reduce negative consequences of drug use, incorporating a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use, to abstinence.
Harm reduction:
* Accepts, for better and for worse, that licit and illicit drug use is part of our world and chooses to work to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply ignore or condemn them.

* Understands drug use as a complex, multi- faceted phenomenon that encompasses a continuum of behaviors from severe abuse to total abstinence, and acknowledges that some ways of using drugs are clearly safer than others.

* Establishes quality of individual and community life and well-being--not necessarily cessation of all drug use--as the criteria for successful interventions and policies.

* Calls for the non-judgmental, non-coercive provision of services and resources to people who use drugs and the communities in which they live in order to assist them in reducing attendant harm.

* Ensures that drug users and those with a history of drug use routinely have a real voice in the creation of programs and policies designed to serve them.

*Affirms drugs users themselves as the primary agents of reducing the harms of their drug use, and seeks to empower users to share information and support each other in strategies which meet their actual conditions of use.

* Recognizes that the realities of poverty, class, racism, social isolation, past trauma, sex-based discrimination and other social inequalities affect both people's vulnerability to and capacity for effectively dealing with drug-related harm.

* Does not attempt to minimize or ignore the real and tragic harm and danger associated with licit and illicit drug use.

Since 1984

There is a great deal of talk among social workers about meeting the folks we make it our business to serve “where they are at.” This phrase rolls off the tongue nicely and refers to the practice of adjusting our level of engagement according to an individual’s current ability, disposition, and cooperation. Downtown at the outreach components of Janus Youth Programs, Yellow Brick Road & PDX: O&E, we take this principle to heart and take pride in meeting the folks we serve, quite literally, where they’re at.

Our trained community volunteers and streetwork teams have explained blood-borne pathogens in the unzipped doorways of tents, discussed abscess infections around smoldering campfires in vacant industrial lots, made lists of goals under bridges and overpasses, and kept curious rats at bay while demonstrating appropriate wound dressings at the waterfront. We’ve arrived on Union Pacific Railroad property with our van and packed young people, their pets, and few possessions out from under bridges and into Porchlight and Streetlight Youth Shelter. In just the past few weeks, at least 5 young men and women from a single encampment have begun the arduous journey from living behind walls of pallets and tattered wool blankets to shelter bunk beds and beyond.

It takes weeks, often months, of relationship building to prepare an individual to make the leap of faith required to attempt even a single night indoors. And we know they don’t always remain. These are young men and women who all too often measure the trajectory of life not in diplomas, degrees, and promotions but in scars, miles, and medications. Some will cycle in and out of treatment programs, shelters, case management, and other supportive services for years. But we’re persistent. And we’ll be there when they’re ready.

Our volunteers and streetwork teams are on the streets of Portland every night, rain or shine. Often rain. It is difficult to estimate the impact on human lives, human dignity, this kind of consistent compassion and eye-to-eye advocacy has leant to the streets of Portland since Yellow Brick Road’s inception in 1984. It is far easier to calculate the basic needs we’ve met by simply being present and attentive night after night. In January 2006, Yellow Brick Road recorded 2,688 contacts in a single month. That’s 386 pairs of brand new socks distributed to those in need. 278 warm hats. 354 pairs of winter gloves. And January is traditionally the quietest and slowest month of the year.

In the past few months Yellow Brick Road has provided intensive training and street knowledge for a recently launched outreach program in Grants Pass, Oregon and will soon expand our services to include outreach in areas of Washington. Our recently revised and comprehensive Resource Guide has expanded to 81 pages and is utilized by all the Janus Youth Programs as well as Portland Community College. We welcome anyone who wishes to visit our offices or learn more about outreach, to contact us. Perhaps you will meet us where we’re at. On the streets.

Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach Program