Friday, April 29, 2011

YBR Outreach Specialist Awarded!

Janus Youth Programs is delighted to announce that our very own Outreach Specialist, Neal Sand, was presented with the 2011 Individual Award of Merit at the Oregon Coalition on Housing and Homelessness' 23rd Annual Conference in Hood River, Oregon last week!

As a professional Outreach Specialist with Janus Youth Programs' Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach Program, Neal packs his bag every week- rain or shine (frequently rain)- and heads out to the streets, bridges, wooded camps, squats, and pretty much anywhere off the beaten path where he might find Portland, Oregon’s most vulnerable young people. He excels at reaching the "hardest to reach" youth wherever they are to be found and he builds meaningful relationships that make a lasting difference.

Neal’s history with Janus Youth Programs goes back to 1998 when he himself began as a volunteer with Yellow Brick Road. Neal far exceeded his minimum 6 month volunteer commitment, remaining on the YBR team for no less than 4 years before he applied and was hired on full-time with Janus Youth’s homeless youth services in 2002. Over the years Neal has honed his skills with young people and left a wake of hilarious epic-length monologues in our staff log books.

Neal is Journalism major (another family tradition) with a gift for wry wit. That’s a nice way of saying he can laugh even in the shadow of life’s darkest ironies. It is a skill that serves him well in our work in downtown Portland where we frequently need both hands to count the folks lost on the streets every year. Neal’s passion for laughter and language is a gift he has shared with youth in the form of creative writing and self-expression workshops.

Neal believes in young people so unrelentingly that, eventually, they tend to believe in themselves. He is a soft-spoken hero on the streets of Portland and he is one of the dedicated youth advocates who have made Janus Youth Programs the acclaimed service providers we are today. We are honored to work with him. So are the youth.