How my office is helping Portland’s homeless youths one book at a time

11/21/09 Update: Yesterday 231 books were delivered to New Avenues for Youth. Yeah! Way to go co-workers.

My office recently moved a few blocks up the street from where I have worked for many years. We are still in downtown Portland but there are very different type of people in the area. While we are still located in the core business area there are a couple of small parks in both directions where homeless people tend to hang out. Many of these homeless are young. A co-worker who has come to Portland from Seattle a couple of times asked why there are so many young homeless people on the street. The answer is because the city and county have many services available geared toward the youths in addition to many private organizations. Across the street from the office is  New Avenue for Youths.

What is New Avenues for Youths and what do they do?

Every day there are up to 400 homeless youth from Oregon and Southwest Washington living on the streets of Portland.

At New Avenues for Youth, we are committed to creating and providing excellent programs and services for homeless and at-risk youth to assist them in developing the skills they need to exit street life forever. The New Avenues for Youth continuum of care is broken into four key areas:

Stabilization, Outreach  & Engagement, Early Intervention & Protection and
Skill Building

All four areas come together to ensure that homeless youth have the appropriate resources and support at every stage of their development.

When I was on vacation last month a couple of women in my department ran a clothing drive to gather clothes for the clients of New Avenue.

Then last week a couple of women in my immediate office decided to start a contest between the two sales teams and the sales support team to help support a charitable organization. They sent out this email to everyone on the three teams and a few of us who kind are not really tied directly to one of the teams.

“The benefactor of this competition will be New Avenue for youth GED program. We are collecting books that are required reading for graduation and will be donated to their library.

We have coordinated with Powell’s Books main Burnside location. They are providing a 20% discount for the purchase of new books for this drive. Powell’s also has a large supply of used books available, New Avenues is happy to receive both new and used books.”

Since the original email went out there have been a lot emails talking smack and posturing flying between the teams. Our contest runs until Nov. 2oth. Within the first couple of days the teams had already purchased over 125 books.

It’s all good clean fun competition with the winner ultimately being New Avenues and the future of their clients.

* “Oregon has the highest proportion of homeless people in the nation, according to a new report on homelessness issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

2 Responses

  1. What a worthwhile thing your co-workers are doing & having fun doing it! Getting books into anyone’s hands is a great thing!

  2. I absolutely agree Ann. I told the team I joined up with that I am willing to spend whatever it takes to make our team #1. Already started kickoff our team with a generous amount of cash to buy books.

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