Youth Share their Stories

New Avenues: the film project

Every year, New Avenues for Youth produces a short video to share with our community. These videos are an accessible way for supporters and other community members to learn more about our organization’s mission and, more often than not, provide a rare glimpse into the lives of young people we serve. This year, we took the video in a new and exciting direction: six of the youth we serve produced the video themselves, from start to finish.

Through a partnership with Portland Community Media, the youth participated in an intensive week-long film production workshop. Deondre, Nancy, Treasure, Butterfly, Avatar, and Marc learned how to operate professional video and audio equipment, explored the roles of film production crews, worked together to plan the video’s content, and then conducted all the interviews and shot all the footage they needed to produce the final product.

The results were astounding. The youth’s level of dedication to the video project was surpassed only by their creativity and skill in making their vision a reality. Time and time again, we are humbled by the amazing potential of the youth we serve, and it is projects like these that serve as crucial reminders that when given the proper resources and support, these young people will thrive.

A former youth thanks New Avenues job training program

We were honored when a youth we used to serve sent us this video they had produced about the difference that our PAVE job training program had made in their life. This incredible young person is now getting all A's at Marylhurst University with the support of a Furman scholarship.

Perspectives: Josh & Photography

Josh's photo of the Marquam Bridge

Josh's photo of the Marquam Bridge

We serve some incredibly gifted youth at New Avenues. From now on, we'll be featuring a monthly Q&A with a youth about their passion in life. For this first installment, we couldn't think of a better person to feature than Josh, a youth who is pursuing his interest in being a photographer for Nike through our PAVE job training program.

How did you get into photography?
In high school I took a photography class. We had a film studio in the back where we could develop the photos ourselves. That was a really interesting experience—having that hands-on aspect to it and the chemical process of developing photographs is really cool. And it made you really understand more about when you take a picture, how it turns out.

What are some of your favorite places to photograph?
One of the places where I take most of my photos is on Burnside—there are six or seven neon signs, like for the Crystal Ballroom or Henry’s Tavern, Everyday Music, Whole Foods has one—and they’re pretty cool. When you’re walking up Burnside, you get really cool colors in the clouds from the sunset, so I like to use that in the background of the pictures that I take.

You participated in Focus on Youth through our Education program. How was that?
That was the most time I’ve ever spent just taking photographs, like we spent two hours taking a bunch of photos. We got a CD with all the photos we took on it. It was cool.

Are you interested in pursuing photography in the future?
I’d love to. I’m actually looking at getting a job at Nike, and Nike does everything in-house, so they have their own photographers. I think it would be really cool to be a Nike photographer and get to go all over the world and take pictures of athletes.

Visit our Flickr to see more of Josh's photography.

Meet two of our residents: Audrie and Brody

Audrie and Brody in their apartment in our transitional housing facility

Audrie and Brody in their apartment at
our transitional housing facility

Keeping a careful eye on Brody, her 11-month son who is busy exploring his surroundings, Audrie recalls the day she decided to leave the home she shared with her aunt, great aunt, and grandmother.

It was a decision she made for the sake of her son, whom she had just learned she was pregnant with.

"I had gotten into a bad situation with some people and started doing drugs, running the streets...… and then I got pregnant," recounts Audrie.

"My situation was bad."

She wanted to sober up, find stable housing, and get the education and employment necessary to take care of her son.
But at such a young age, doing all of that without help was a daunting task. So, she turned to New Avenues for Youth.

“"I had to get myself out of that situation, so I came here."”

Such is the story of so many young people who have sought out the supportive foundation that New Avenues for Youth'’s transitional housing program offers. Often, leaving street life or other precarious living situations can seem so daunting that it takes a major revelation, such as parenthood, for youth to find the strength to face their barriers head on.

"It's really hard," explains Audrie on being a young parent, "especially when you don't have a lot of people there for you."

Once in New Avenues' transitional housing program, Audrie was connected with drug & alcohol counseling and a parent support specialist. "She helped out a lot with his development," explains Audrie. "She taught me so much."

Now sober and in the process of finding permanent housing, Audrie is preparing for her newest goal: college. Having already acquired her G.E.D. through New Avenues for Youth's education program, Audrie wants to pursue a degree in Psychology. "I really want to become a drug and alcohol counselor," she says with determination, explaining how her own experiences have given her insight that she can use to help others.

At New Avenues for Youth, we are often asked why we provide services to young parents, rather than pointing them in the direction of family shelters. The reasons are numerous. Despite the overwhelming barriers they face, parenting youth are some of the most motivated when it comes to turning their lives around, and the unique combination of services that New Avenues offers creates the supportive base these young parents need to thrive. As an organization dedicated not just to intervening in youth homelessness, but preventing it in the first place, the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty for two generations is invaluable.

Click here to find out how you can help us in this endeavor.