Monday, December 31, 2012

Waiting for the Sun

I’ll be honest: this time of year is not my favorite for being outside.  I didn’t get to do outreach during the sunny months this year as a result of a bike accident.   I’m certainly glad to be back.  I missed the faces and the places and the people I’ve been building relationships with over the last two years.  I started out as a Yellow Brick Road volunteer in December 2010, so my first experiences on outreach were largely in the dark, wet Portland winter.  Maybe it’s a good thing that I missed the summer this year – I won’t remember as clearly the nights when it was still bright and warm at 8:30pm.  Thankfully, with winter solstice behind us, the days will only get longer for the next six months.

There are certain faces that I won’t get to see until the days are longer again.  The cycle of travelers coming through is at a low point for the season, but the hearty Portland-based youth are still fixtures throughout my week.  The holiday season is always a challenge for many of them.  A month ago, a few of them expressed hopes that folks downtown would be more generous since Christmas was coming.  It seems that the economy held many back from giving as much as they might have in years past.  The cold weather accentuates already difficult circumstances.  Getting up at 6am at the request of the Police is that much harder after a restless night under wet blankets.

I appreciate that as an outreach worker I can offer respite to youth who don’t have services in the Homeless Youth Continuum at least twice a week.  Once is on Sunday nights at a program called Road Warrior, hosted by our partners at Outside In.  The second opportunity is at Janus’ Stationary Outreach on Thursdays.  Some folks come in right at noon to make sure they can get their laundry washed and dried.  Others warm up with a hot shower and some hot food and coffee.  Still others pass out with weariness on one of our couches and rest for an hour or two.  I am excited that we will be able to throw a post-holiday party on Jan. 10th.  The donated gifts, youth-suggested movies, and specially-ordered food will surely brighten these darker days for a number of folks.

It’s always a learning experience walking the streets of Portland through the yearly cycle.  Seasons transform much more than weather.  Last year at this time, we were just recovering from several months serving the youth of Occupy Portland.  This year presented its own hopes and challenges.  As we continue to walk along side so many young people in our community, my goal is to keep my eye on the horizon and watch for the rising sun.

- Heather Penzel, Street Outreach Specialist

Sunday, December 30, 2012


The City has declared a Severe Weather Alert for tonight! As odd as this seems if you are looking out the window while reading this, temperatures are expected to drop below 25 with wind chill tonight and may possibly remain below 25 through Tuesday. 

Anyone seeking shelter can go to the Red Cross Warming Shelter located inside the Imago Dei Church located at 1302 SE Ankeny Street (just behind Old Wives Tale). 

For more information please check the 211 website for up-to-the-minute information. Bundle up tonight!

Friday, November 02, 2012


YOU are invited to our upcoming Yellow Brick Road training! YBR training events are always FREE and available to anyone over 18 in the community who may wish to learn more about street outreach, volunteer opportunities and issues related to youth homelessness in the Northwest. This is a great opportunity to meet the current YBR volunteer teams, outreach staff and program 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 on Sunday NOVEMBER 11th from 2pm until 5pm. We will be discussing winter shelter resources, severe weather response plans and safety on the streets. Our teams from Portland and Vancouver will also be providing updates on their respective communities.  Please R.S.V.P. for the location at the email address listed below as space is limited.  We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's HOT...Stay Cool!

It's HOT out there folks!  For the next few days Portland is expecting temperatures hovering around 100 degrees.  For people living outdoors this is not only can be dangerous.Please drink lots of water and wear lots of sunscreen if you can't get to shade.  Follow the link below to learn about free cooling centers in Multnomah County:    

Every place in Multnomah County that people can cool down in the heat...for free!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Project Metamorphosis Reunion!

Calling all current and past RTAs, A&D Specialists, Supervisors and Supporters of Project Metamorphosis! The very first Meta Reunion is scheduled to take place June 30, 2012---Noon to Dusk. 

 If you have been involved in meta and wish to attend, please contact Patti Davis to R.S.V.P. and for location. 

 Patti Davis: 503-980-5531

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Thanks to EVERYONE who joined us this afternoon for another terrific Yellow Brick Road All-Team training event! Special thanks to Brenton Chose, Lionel Eyres, Alex Lewis, Mike Davis and Karras Kalivas of the Portland Park Rangers for taking time out of their day to join YBR and share their mission to serve as positive ambassadors in the downtown core.  It was interesting to hear how often their work in Portland's parks so closely resembles street outreach.  We look forward to more partnerships in the future!  Also, special thanks to Rachel Cole-Jansen.  Rachel began volunteering with Yellow Brick Road in February 2009 and spent much of her academic career at Reed College serving YBR and Portland's homeless youth community.  She recently completed a 200+ page senior research thesis on CSEC youth in the Portland metro area and this afternoon she shared a brief summary of her findings with the YBR team.  Rachel is now a Reed College graduate!  CONGRATULATIONS, RACHEL!  THANK YOU FOR THREE YEARS OF SERVICE WITH YBR!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

YBR Training Event Re-Scheduled for May 27th

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 street outreach, volunteer opportunities and issues related to youth homelessness in the Northwest. Our training events are also a great opportunity to meet the current volunteer teams, outreach staff and program 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 on Sunday May 20 May 27 from 2pm until 5pm. Please R.S.V.P. for the location at the email address listed below.  We hope to see you there!

Girl Scout Troop 49876 Supports Janus Youth!

Here is Mallory Hobson of Girl Scout Troop 49876 with Dennis Lundberg, Associate Director of Janus Youth's Homeless Youth Programs.  Over the past 10 months Mallory single-handedly organized her own community service project to benefit pets belonging to young people experiencing homelessness.  She put together 25 "Pet-On-The-Go" bags containing essential items to keep pets safe and comfortable outdoors.  This project involved formally presenting her idea to the Girl Scout Council for approval, finding suppliers for all the pet essentials, fundraising the necessary capital and crocheting squeaky chew-toys for dogs! The completed bags were delivered this week and will now be distributed to youth with pets by Janus Youth's Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach Program.  On behalf of Janus Youth Programs we THANK YOU, Mallory!  You are an exceptional young woman and we wish you the very best for your Girl Scout Gold Award!    

Thursday, May 03, 2012


Today is National Thank A Youth Worker Day!  Who knew?  Today we celebrate and send a heartfelt THANK YOU to ALL the incredible individuals around the country- and world- who make it their mission to improve the lives of young people.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Yellow Brick Road applauds Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire's signing into law last week a bill that requires online escort solicitors in the state to document that all escorts are over 18. This new law certainly won't end demand or offer a long term solution but it is a bold step in the right direction and sends a clear message to pimps and exploiters of children that our KIDS ARE NOT FOR SALE! Read all about the new legislation here.

Monday, March 05, 2012


Check out this great podcast that the National Clearinghouse On Families & Youth posted this morning! The podcast features interviews with formerly homeless youth panelists from the 2011 National Runaway and Homeless Youth Conference held in Portland, Oregon. These are candid stories of struggle and success that bolster our confidence and skills as service providers and encourage youth who are still in the very early stages of recovery and transition. YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Learn more about Hallinan Elementary School's Blanket Project!

Helping the Homeless

Hallinan students make 100 blankets for homeless youth

By Barb Randall

The Lake Oswego Review, Feb 23, 2012

Hallinan fifth- and sixth-graders got a lesson in street smarts recently, thanks to Dennis Lundberg, associate director for Willamette Bridge of Janus Youth Programs. Lundberg was at the school to pick up 100 fleece blankets the students had made for the organization. He was grateful for the donation, as he would have about 70 homeless teens looking to his organization for shelter that evening.

“We let them pick their blanket,” Lundberg told the students during an assembly. “That makes it more theirs than if we just handed them a blanket.” He went on to tell the students the hard truth that not everyone has a cozy blanket to snuggle up in, or even a warm, dry place to sleep at night.

Lundberg was invited to Hallinan Elementary School by teacher Lizz Pilkington, who has worked to support Janus Youth Programs for the past six years. She said she liked to involve students with the program because they can actually see how what they do makes a difference to others.

As part of the service project learning experience Pilkington and the rest of the fifth- and sixth-grade teaching team asked students to do chores for family members and neighbors to earn money to buy fleece for the blankets.

“On that day we were out of school (because of inclement weather) I was at the fabric store buying 50 bolts of material,” Pilkington said. About 500 yards of fabric went into making the blankets.

Pilkington said Lundberg relates well to young people and can share information about homelessness with them in a manner that is candid but not uncomfortable for them to hear.

“He does such an incredible job,” she said.

During the school assembly, Lundberg asked the audience if they had ever seen a homeless person, to which most students’ hands were raised. Most raised their hands again in response to his question of whether they knew any homeless people.

“They can look scary or weird, and they are certainly not happy,” said Lundberg. “But homelessness affects all of us. It’s a rising issue, and there are lots of reasons why people would be homeless.”

He explained that Janus’ Porch Light program helps keep runaways safe with the intent of eventually returning them to safe homes.

Janus Youth Program’s Street Light shelter helps homeless youths.

“It can be scary and unsafe to be out on the streets,” he said.

Lundberg said both the Porch Light and Street Light programs work to get teens indoors where they are safe and help them either return home or find another safe place.

“All the kids get a bunk bed and blanket,” he said. “You’ve done a wonderful thing. Lots of people need these blankets.

“We work hard to figure out how to get them off the street and out of shelters. They can take the blanket with them when they leave the shelter. … We can’t keep up (with the need for blankets and toiletries).”

To learn more about Janus Youth Programs, visit or call 503-789-4011. Contact Lundberg at

Copyright 2012 Pamplin Media Group, 6605 S.E. Lake Road, Portland, OR 97222 • 503-226-6397

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A.M.E. Zion Churches of Oregon & Washington support Janus Youth!

The youth and young adults of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (A.M.E. Zion) Churches in Oregon and Washington support Janus Youth Programs' mission to changes lives and build futures! Recently the Northwest conference rallied together to raise several boxes of clothing to stock our homeless shelters and recently opened shelter for CSEC survivors. These young men and women have boldly stated their support for at-risk young people in the community and we look forward to working with the A.M.E. Zion Churches of Oregon & Washington in the future! We wish to give a special THANK YOU to Breanna Probasco-Canda, District Youth Director, for her efforts galvanizing this service project.


Yellow Brick Road of Washington took a field trip up to Olympia for Youth Advocacy Day this year! We had a great time and represented healthy youth in the State of Washington. We'll see you all next year.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hallinan Elementary School Supports Janus Youth!

The students at Hallinan Elementary School in Lake Oswego have supported Janus Youth Programs with an outstanding service project this month! Elizabeth Pilkington's students created 100 beautiful fleece blankets for our youth shelters Porchlight and Streetlight and they raised $400 for our Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach Program. THANK YOU for supporting our mission to improve lives and build futures!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


As many of you are aware, Janus Youth Programs opened Oregon's very first shelter for children victims of sexual exploitation in December 2011. Please take a moment to read this thoughtful feature about our newest shelter for youth published TODAY in one of our city's weekly tabloids, The Portland Mercury.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Yellow Brick Road of Washington and The Perch Drop-In Center are now accepting applications for volunteers! We have opportunities to assist our staff engaging with homeless youth in Vancouver, Washington between the hours of 9am-4pm. No experience is necessary but applicants must be over 18 and off the streets for at least one year. For more information and an application, please contact Dennis Lundberg at:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


At this time the City of Portland does NOT anticipate a continuation of severe weather conditions for the remainder of the week. Local weather is not forecast to meet the criteria warranting opening of the Red Cross Emergency Warming Center at Imago Dei Church so the Imago Dei Church space will NOT be open tonight.

YBR outreach workers will be on the streets this evening to assist in directing unsheltered people to shelters. We will be stationed outside Imago Dei Church tonight from 8pm-9pm to redirect people to appropriate facilities and provide some emergency cold weather gear such as hats, gloves and hand-warmers.

If you have any questions please call 2-1-1 for more information. Bundle up out there!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Severe Weather Notice is in effect in Portland, Oregon: The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures of 32 degrees and a high likelihood of snow starting at 4am on Tuesday (1/17) and these conditions are expected to persist through Wednesday (1/18) at 10am. Sleeping outdoors in this weather can be dangerous! Anyone seeking shelter information can dial 2-1-1 to receive direction. During this severe weather episode, 211info will be open for phone inquiries daily between 8:00am and midnight. Additionally, shelter information is available 24/7 at In addition to existing year-round and winter shelter facilities, the following warming center facilities are available:

Severe Weather Emergency Warming Center (only open when a Severe Weather Notice is issued):
Red Cross Severe Weather Emergency Warming Center at the Imago Dei Church
1302 Ankeny Street, (near 13th Avenue in Inner SE)
This is a walk-in facility. Pets allowed, some space for carts, accessible location
Dates: Monday, January 16th - Tuesday, January 17th
Hours: 9:00 PM - 7:00 AM
Serves: Families, single adults, and youths

Family Winter Shelter (formerly Family Warming Center):
12505 NE Halsey Street, Portland Oregon (on Halsey near 126th Avenue)
This is a walk-in facility.
Dates: Seven nights a week throughout winter season
Hours: 7:00 PM - 7:00 AM
Serves: Families with children under 18 and women in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy

Women’s Winter Shelter:
Check in at Transition Projects, 650 NW Irving,
Mon-Fri 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Sat/Sun 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM or call 503-280-4700 to check availability.
Dates: Seven nights a week throughout winter season
Hours: 7:30 PM - 7:00 AM
Serves: Single women

Men’s Winter Shelter:
Located at Salvation Army Harbor Light, SW 2nd and Ankeny,
This is a walk-in facility. Call 503-239-1259 for information.
Dates: Seven nights a week throughout winter season
Hours: 8:00 PM - 8:00 AM
Serves: Single men

Union Gospel Mission
15 NW 3rd Avenue, 503-228-0319
This is a walk-in facility.
Dates: Monday, January 16th - Tuesday, January 17th
Hours: 9:30 PM - 6:00 AM
Serves: Families, single adults, and youths

The following expanded day center services are available during the Severe Weather Notice:

Downtown Chapel Roman Catholic Parish
601 W Burnside Street, 503-228-0746
Provides hot beverages, some snacks and movies
Dates: As of 11am on 1/16/12 confirmation has NOT been made that this facility will be available during this weather event.
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Serves: Adults

Union Gospel Mission
15 NW 3rd Avenue, 503-228-0319
Provides hot beverages, some snacks and television
Dates: As of 11am on 1/16/12 the Mission Director indicates that they do not have the volunteer capacity to open the day center on 1/16/12. They are working to get volunteers to open up on 1/17/12 and will confirm one way or another later today.
Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Depending on severity of weather may be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Serves: Adults

Please call 211info with questions regarding other shelter and transportation resources.

Friday, January 13, 2012


A Quarter Century of Positive Youth Development… Sort Of.

by JT (Jerry) Fest

Twenty-five years ago yesterday, January 12th, 1987, the first four of hundreds of future residents moved into Bridge House; at the time one of only seven demonstration projects for federal Transitional Living Programs for older homeless youth. The success of the program contributed to funding for future TLP’s around the nation, and today Bridge House is the only one of the original seven TLP’s still in operation, making it the oldest continuously funded federal TLP in the country.

Bridge House is considered one of the earliest programs to be based on the principles of Positive Youth Development (PYD), but here’s an interesting fact. In 1987, PYD as a codified best practice did not exist. As the principles and practices of PYD were articulated, it became clear that the design of Bridge House incorporated PYD principles and implemented PYD practices. But if PYD was not known at the time that Bridge House was established, then while it may be accurate to say that the program was designed along lines that were compatible with PYD, it cannot be said that Bridge House was based on PYD. That being the case, it may be interesting to some to learn what the program was based on. As I was director of the program at that time, I am able to answer that question for you.

The original grant that we received here in Portland was a demonstration grant and, as such, I wanted to try something new. After all, it’s not as though housing programs didn’t exist for homeless youth in the ‘80’s … but they weren’t demonstrating much success. While I have long since lost the studies from that time, I remember that the success rate for homeless youth going through housing programs was about 30% back then. Equally concerning was that the success rate for youth exiting street life without any program involvement at all was also about 30%, which was leading some to question whether or not programs were really helping. When the Bridge House demonstration showed a 70% successful rate of transition, people began to take notice, and our success contributed to a focus on PYD. But, again, the program preceded what is now known as PYD, so on what was it based?

In looking for a model to demonstrate I exhausted all existing approaches to housing and transitional living for homeless youth. Replicating the 30% success rate was not our goal; we wanted to find the most effective way to work with this population. When I couldn’t find anything new or promising within the existing approaches to homeless youth, I began to explore other fields. It was in the field of education that I found an approach to emulate when I came across a book called “Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing” by Alexander Sutherland (A.S.) Neill (originally published in 1960, an expanded and revised version is now available as “ Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood.”).

Summerhill was a radical new concept in education. Instead of teachers as authoritarians and students as passive recipients of knowledge, Summerhill envisioned adults and young people as co-participants in an educational environment, each with responsibilities to that environment. The basic principles were defined in the forward to the book by sociologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm: nourish the whole child’s potential to love life intellectually, as well as emotionally; have him educated commensurate with his capacity, sans dogmatic disciplining; allow him to be free, but without encroaching on anyone; have the teachers maintain a transparency; encourage security in the pupil without resorting to submission and domination tactics, or utilizing guilt in one’s methods; and advocate a theology of human freedom, not sinful suppression. Sounds a lot like Positive Youth Development, doesn’t it? But, pre-dating Positive Youth Development, these principles were referred to as “self-government,” which is why Bridge House was not defined as a PYD model based on development, but as a self-government model based on freedom.

Say the word “freedom” in reference to youth programs and watch the blood drain from many adult’s faces as they envision young people running wild in the streets and terrorizing program staff. Freedom, however, is not license; as Neill himself points out in a later work titled, appropriately enough, Freedom -- Not License, which you can read HERE in its entirety (be aware that this was written in the mid 1960's; some of his commentary on social issues makes for an interesting time capsule). Neill describes it this way:

“It is this distinction between freedom and license that many parents cannot grasp. In the disciplined home, the children have no rights. In the spoiled home, they have all the rights. The proper home is one in which children and adults have equal rights.”

What many fail to understand is that there are no rights without responsibilities. A right without a responsibility is not a right at all; it is an entitlement … and people do not grow, learn, and develop from entitlements. In application to a program for homeless youth, I would paraphrase Neill’s statement and say that it is the distinction between freedom and license that many youth programs cannot grasp. In a structured program, young people have responsibilities with few rights. In an enabling program, young people have rights with few responsibilities. The proper program is one in which young people and adults each have rights and responsibilities, and are held accountable to their actions.

At Bridge House the accountability piece is accomplished through an evaluation system, but that is way beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that Bridge House is a living example that freedom, when properly understood and applied, works … and on this occasion I would like to publically thank each and every staff and resident who has helped to prove that over this past quarter century.

So, with appreciation to A.S. Neill for his inspiration, The Youth Networker wishes Bridge House a happy birthday. While it is my hope that someday programs like you are no longer needed, may you remain open until that day.

This article expresses the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the position or view of the InterNetwork for Youth. For more information about the InterNetwork for Youth, contact author and consultant JT Fest HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Here's a photo of Yellow Brick Road Outreach Specialists Neal Sand and Heather Penzel conducting outreach at a camp under a bridge in SE Portland this week. Heather is our most recent addition to the Janus outreach team, joining us about 5 months ago and quickly building solid relationships with young people surviving outdoors. If you are interested in volunteering at either our Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington YBR programs just drop a line to Dennis Lundberg at for more information. We're ALWAYS looking for dedicated folks over the age of 18 to join our mission to improve the lives of vulnerable young people.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Pastor Tom Burgess and Janus Youth Associate Director of Homeless Programs Dennis Lundberg

Portland's Crossroads Church has partnered with Janus Youth Programs to support our ongoing mission to improve the lives of young people! Over the past several weeks the congregation has collected a huge inventory of safety and hygiene essentials for kids surviving outdoors such as shampoo, razors, deodorant, journals, tooth brushes and nutrition bars. The photo above only provides a mere glimpse. In total we collected no less than 140 boxes full of supplies and literally hundreds of pre-packed hygiene kits that are already being distributed to young people in need at our homeless youth shelters, newly opened CSEC shelter (for young survivors of commercial sexual exploitation) and on the streets via Yellow Brick Road Street Outreach teams. This is an amazing statement of the Church's passionate commitment to kids in our community who don’t have a safe home tonight. THANK YOU, Crossroads Church!