The following is a guest blog post written by Lauren Eads from New Avenues for Youth. This year's Prideraiser 2023 campaign benefits New Avenues / SMYRC, and when you read the post you will understand what makes this organization so special. Please consider pledging to the campaign and/or donating directly.
New Avenues for Youth is a Portland-based nonprofit dedicated to the prevention and intervention of youth homelessness. Our services for young people (ages 9-25) focus on the individual—their experiences, identities, needs, and goals—and helping them make positive change in their lives. From meals and counseling to job training and housing, their 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.
Through our 25 years of operating in the Portland area, we have seen that LGBTQIA2S+ youth are disproportionately represented in the young people we serve. In fact, 57% of young people accessing New Avenues programs identify as queer or trans, with only 9.5% the general population self-identifying with LGBTQIA2S+. Family conflict is the primary cause of homelessness for LGBTQIA2S+ youth, which is disproportionately due to a lack of acceptance by family members of a youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Many youth also identify aging out of the foster care system, poverty, and shortages of shelters and housing programs as the reason for their homelessness. Queer and Trans youth are also more likely to experience assault, trauma, depression, and suicide when compared to non-LGBTQ+ populations while also being homeless.
Because of this, we offer both culturally specific programs for this group, as well as staff integrated into each of our programs to support specific needs along their journey. The Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) provides culturally specific case management, counseling, education, engagement activities, and more for LGBTQIA2S+ youth in Portland, and The Living Room provides programs and services in Clackamas County. We also offer Bridge 13 community education, which provides workshops for schools, businesses, and organizations on how to better support and affirm LGBTQIA2S+ individuals.
New Avenues and our LGBTQIA2S+ programs depend on community support to provide a safe space, resources, referrals, and fun activities for the youth we serve. We love partnering with folks to host donation drives to collect safety supplies, body affirming undergarments, cosmetics, and hygiene supplies for young people throughout our programming. And of course, your financial support makes all of our work possible. Donate today at newavenues.org.
To learn more about how you can get involved email Lauren Eads, Director of Development & Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.newavenues.org.