Friday, July 22, 2011

YBR meets Pickle Baby

Left to right: Aubrey Bauer, Sarah Louise Allen (with Pickle Baby), Neal Sand, Adonica Beavers, Lori Rodriguez.

People often ask what an evening of Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach actually looks like. The truth is, the streets can vary greatly from night to night but we do our best to be prepared for just about anything we might find out there (just take a look at Pickle Baby in the photo above, whom our team met at a First Thursday Art Walk event). In an effort to share with people what we mean by "anything"- and to further demysitify the practice of street outreach- we occasionally post random Yellow Brick Road log entries on this blog. The names and identifiers have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the folks we serve but otherwise the following account is edited directly from this month's Yellow Brick Road Outreach Log Book. This log is particularly interesting in that it underscores the kind of misinformation we occasionally encounter and the importance of educated harm reduction dialogue on the streets:

Tonight was a night filled with new contacts! Around 40% of the young people we met said they had not heard about street outreach before and they were very happy to see us...We decided to spice up our route and headed down to the Burnside/Powell stretch, dipping into the south side through O'Bryant Square (aka "Paranoid Park")...We strolled through Pioneer Square where we had some prime harm reduction philosophizing with some rather transcendental travelers after they claimed that it's "cool" not to wear condoms! Sarah astutely pointed out the risks of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, to which he responded with a very sincere, "What you don't know can't hurt you." It was noted that clearly not all proverbs are true and this seemed to leave quite an impression on the young man for further thought...

Next we headed down to Safeway where we had a nice conversation with "Primal" and "Sandy" and their lovely puppy. Then up to the Park Blocks where we encountered "Chance" who is hopefully getting into treatment this week and then planning to move on to Montana where he apparently has a home and a full-time job waiting for him! He was ecstatic to get our of Portland and had strong hopes that he would stay clean for good. We offered him congratulations and good wishes for his future.

After a heartfelt "thank you" from a longtime homeless man for everything Yellow Brick Road has done for him, we hopped on the MAX back to YBR headquarters. It was wonderful night overall.

~Yellow Brick Road Team (July 2011)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yellow Brick Road Volunteer Awarded!

Left to right: Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury, YBR volunteer Joan Jenkins, Housing Commissioner Nick Fish.

We are honored to announce that Yellow Brick Road volunteer Joan Jenkins was a recipient of the 2011 Coordinating Committee to End Homelessness Achievement Award for her outstanding efforts in reaching out to homeless youth and others experiencing homelessness in the Portland community. Joan has been a Yellow Brick Road volunteer for more than 16 years. She joins the team every Monday night, making critical contacts and building trust with street-dependent youth and connecting them to information and services. Joan’s passion, energy, and laughter are an inspiration to the young people that she meets on the streets, and to all the staff and volunteers who have had the pleasure of working alongside her. She demonstrates humility in serving others and avoids personal recognition, keeping her focus on supporting young people as they transition out of homelessness. Joan truly believes in the potential and futures of young people and is a passionate outreach worker on their behalf. When folks in the community talk about what a great program Yellow Brick Road is, they are talking about Joan Jenkins. Congratulations, Joan! And thank you for all that you do.