In Focus: Lane County’s At-Risk Youth

The last year has been a crazy one for the ladies of Junior League of Eugene.  Embarking on our new Focus – at risk youth – has been both challenging and incredibly impactful for both membership AND our community.  With a year of experience under our belt now, we are really starting to find our “groove” and catch some serious traction around Lane County.

Our projects have certainly been plentiful, and the need is great.  With each passing month we are continuing to build new relationships with significant community partners (EPD, 4J School District, Hope Ranch, 15th Night, Kidz First!, Looking Glass, YMCA, Womenspace – just to name a few) and have really begun to hone our sights in on our communities’ youth homelessness and human sex trafficking epidemic.  Obviously, tackling these two issues head-on is quite the feat, and significant change rarely happens overnight.  However, our community impact is becoming more an more apparent with each passing day and has brought with it a handful of notable accomplishments.

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One of our most impactful projects to date came late in the year with the induction of the JLE pioneered “Student ID Initiative.”  JLE has successfully partnered with the Eugene 4J School District to unveil and roll-out a comprehensive program in which we assist at risk-youth in obtaining Oregon ID Cards (and with them, birth certificates, social security cards, and all other documents required by the state) that they may have never otherwise been able to obtain.  Not only are ID’s required for obtaining housing, utilities, and other services, but they are also a requirement for taking the GED exam.  Many of the students we helped had little to no resources available (homeless/without residence, unavailable parents/guardians, funding issues, etc.) and by providing direct assistance, we were able to help to ensure an increased likelihood of success in the game of life.  Our initial roll-out in late May allowed us to directly help 28 students at 4J’s Echo School – and that was only our first test-run!  Look for JLE to continue to capitalize and grow this program exponentially over the next year (or more) throughout the Eugene/Springfield area.

Making an impact

The JLE Student ID Initiative has enjoyed much success since it’s induction 2 short months ago, but the program cannot be counted as our only success this year.  Our members have been hard at work and continue to make a footprint in our community with contributions to other notable projects including (but certainly are not limited to):

  • The formation of the Eugene Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation (ECASE)
  • The roll-out of the 15th Night – a Eugene homeless youth initiative
  • Implementation of human trafficking based curriculum in the Bethel School Dist.
  • Human trafficking awareness/advocacy campaigns (Eugene Educators Association, University of Oregon, Sheldon Rec Center, local media appearances, etc.)
  • Hope Ranch home improvement projects to benefit trafficking survivors
  • Continued formation of community partnerships with key youth organizations
  • Done In A Meeting donation drives at every GMM to benefit our community partners
  • Partnering with JL Portland for the reestablishment of our State Political Action Committee (SPAC)

And the list goes on!

As we roll in to our 2nd year of focusing on at risk youth, our momentum and excitement continues to grow, and we want our sustainers to grow with us!  We invite all current members, as well as sustaining and emeritus members, to join us at our next GMM on August 29th and be an active part of our revolution!  If we change the life of even a single person in our community, then our effort will not have been in vain.  Let’s work together to make JLE one of Lane County’s primary catalysts for lasting community change now and into the future.

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