Professionals from across the county came together to find new ways to connect youth to local activities and services. On March 6, 2013 Multnomah County Department of Community Justice Juvenile Services Division (JSD) hosted a Youth Services Meet & Greet at Multnomah County Midland branch library. The event was co-sponsored by Cascadia Youth Services, Depaul Youth Services, Central City Concern Puentes, Lifeworks NW, Lines for Life, and NW Behavioral.
JSD’s organizer for the event was Debbie Sweet, Treatment Expediter/Reclaiming Futures. Nearly 90 people attended the event including JSD staff and many others from community organizations who provided tremendous support throughout the event. DCJ Assistant Director, Christina McMahan, welcomed the group and discussed the Department’s efforts collaborating with community partners. She also noted Reclaiming Futures role connecting teens with alcohol and drug treatment services, linking probation staff with treatment providers to better serve clients and providing staff training for all in order to improve outcomes.
The Meet & Greet offered agencies space to share information about prosocial programs for youth and to network with others. There was also an excellent panel of four teens from Lines for Life (linesforlife.org) who talked about their services including a teen crisis hotline. Youthline is a free and confidential 24-hour teen-to-teen crisis, counseling and referral line. Each youth talked about the importance of prosocial activities to their success and growth.
Dillon Bryant is an 18 year old senior at Wilson High School. He’s been a Youthline volunteer for the past year and says he really enjoys helping people his age. He says, “I try to talk youth through the entire process when they are struggling and give referrals and positive options. The important thing is to make sure they know there is someone there to support them.” Bryant notes he “can relate to them because of my own personal experiences.”
Part of the event allowed time for groups to create lists of prosocial activities & programs for teens. Debbie Sweet stated,
“In order to help youth succeed after treatment and probation, it is critical for them to be connected to caring adults and positive activities. This event was an effort to maximize our knowledge of the services and activities available to youth in their community.”