A compassionate response to youth - New Avenues for Youth effort outlined to PPRC

Posted on: Monday, 23 May 2022

New Avenues for Youth aims "to support young people and make their lives better," Executive Director Sean Suib told Portland Pearl Rotarians on May 24.

From its mission statement (www.newavenues.org): "New Avenues for Youth is a Portland-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and intervention of youth homelessness. Our services for young people (ages 9-24) focus on the individual—their experiences, identities, needs, and goals—and helping them make positive change in their lives."

Sean, returning as a speaker to PPRC, was addressing one of New Avenues' many partners which have been acquired during its 25-year history (Pearl Rotary's community service community has been a supporter for several years).

With a staff of 175--and today branching out from Multnomah County to adjacent areas--New Avenues provides education, skills and housing. Often, Sean said, there is "no way for youths to step out…we try to get young people as soon as they fall into houselessness."

The focus is wide-ranging: young people aging out of foster care; an emphasis on young people of color; mental health and substance abuse counseling; basic needs like food; youth who have been sex trafficked; and many who identify with LGBT-Q (as high as 40% of the population on the street, Sean related). "Often they are cut off from their family --young people who don't have that connection who end up in unstable housing."

New Avenues' "safety net" has had the additional challenge of the two-year-old pandemic. "With Covid, young people are more disconnected than ever."

"Our ultimate goal" - addressing more behavioral health and substance abuse," Sean concluded.

Or as a handout he shared stated: "From meals and counseling to job training and housing, our equity-based services address the many barriers to stability and well-being that young people face. Each and every day, we show up in compassionate, creative ways, ensuring that they always have a place to turn."

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