A Letter From Stephanie

J Bar J Youth Services is committed to keeping kids in our programs safe, secure, and supervised during this COVID- 19 crisis. Each of the programs that house youth are quarantined, all of the youth are sheltering in place. The youth at J Bar J Boys Ranch/J5, and The Academy at Sisters are continuing activities in their usual manner, attending school on campus, participating in counseling sessions on site, and using the Vocational training center. The exception to their daily routine is all extracurricular activities are done on our campuses.

Youth are also sheltering in place at Grandma’s House, and Cascade Youth & Family Center- the LOFT. The kids in each of these locations are practicing good hygiene, hand washing, sanitizing, and social distancing, along with the quarantine.  

COVID-19 is a worry from a public health concern, we are deeply concerned for the safety of our youth and staff.  If our staff become ill and cannot be at the facilities to supervise youth, we will need to either move some existing staff, and or request overtime work from those that are healthy.  Thus, we are concerned about the financial impact and future operating revenues.  Staff that currently work in office space and can tele-work are doing so.  One of our upcoming fund raising events is currently postponed at this time, Bowl for Kids Sake.

More now than ever we need support. Cash donations help us keep kids safe, supervised, and secure, and get needed food and the supplies to the point of service they are most needed.  Please consider a donation today.

~ Stephanie Alvstad
CEO/ President
J Bar J Youth Services

Generosity Amidst Crisis

There is a visible and ambient anxiety around us. Our lives have been changed, for many they are turned upside down. And yet, through the confusion and dark projections there are bright lights, people shining bright. We are experiencing many random acts of kindness and love.

Youth living in our shelters, kids who have finally found security and stability, fear its loss. As a non-profit, we are facing fiscal challenges now and will be in the months ahead. The first of our large annual fundraisers, Bowl for Kid’s Sake, has been postponed, likely cancelled for this year. The other fundraising efforts that happen later in the year will undoubtedly be impacted, either by the pandemic itself or the economic fallout in its wake.

We need community support and we have faith it will come and that we will find new resources to keep our programs healthy. Right now, we are celebrating the kindness and generosity of our community. Thank you!

Woody from Grandma’s House answered a phone call last week. Matt Hand was at Costco, and offered to get them whatever they needed. He walked up and down the aisles, staying on the phone and loading his cart with food, diapers, and everything else on their list. His text later, “The Eagle Has Landed,” gave Woody a moment of confusion until she realized all the supplies had been left on the front porch.

Bend High School is serving sack lunches to students on the free and reduced meal program. They have also made them available to the homeless youth in our shelters. An employee from the LOFT is able to pick up nutritious meals for the kids in their care, and also run lunches over to the girls at Grandma’s House. The kids look forward to these daily.

MOsley WOtta is an internationally known performer who happens to live in Bend. He announced that he would donate $5 (up to $500 total) for each download of his new album, ‘This Is (Not) All There Is,’ to the LOFT. His fans responded and he raised the donation in hours. He has since been doing those short fundraisers for others in need due to the current crisis.

Confined together, our youth and staff face the same challenges all families do. Tensions run high, kids get bored, and everyone worries. Minor annoyances create more friction than usual. Both Grandma’s House and the Cascade Youth & Family Center LOFT have been using art as an outlet for anxiety and boredom. The family of a former resident gifted a craft center to Grandma’s House, a godsend in this trying time.

Ju-Bee-Lee, a boutique downtown, began selling “Love in the Time of Corona” gift packages online with small craft projects, notes, and other pick-me-ups. As an option, their customers could also send them to people in need in the community, so several people bought them for the kids at the LOFT.

Suzy at Leapin’ Lizards downtown Bend, sent love to our littlest shelter residents: the babies at Grandma’s House. They too are missing their outings to the playground, the toddlers looking longingly out the window. Suzy reached out, asking about ages, and picked gifts for each of them. They were very excited for the new toys, which have provided hours of fun during their confinement.

These bright moments feed not only the bodies, but the souls of the kids in our care and inspire caregivers. The kids see these acts of kindness and know they are not forgotten. The kids in our programs are grateful. When they receive these gifts they know they are valued, and they feel loved.

Thank you generous Central Oregonians!

Facebook, Crook County, and Fundraising

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon (BBBSCO) will be serving more kids thanks to a grant from Facebook. Facebook’s Prineville Data Center’s Community Action Grant gives BBBSCO more resources to match Littles with caring adult Bigs. 

The support comes at a time when we are in great need. COVID-19 has forced us to postpone Bowl for Kids’ Sake, one of two large annual fundraisers for BBBSCO. While we are hoping to reschedule, we may need to cancel this year’s event.

Big Brothers Big Sisters relies completely on community funding. The priority of BBBSCO is to make matches and the loss of money from this fundraiser could delay needed matches and limit support for the activities of the matches currently in place. In addition, businesses are experiencing losses in sales due to forced closures, so many of our business sponsors will need to pull back support in order to stay afloat themselves.

During this hard time, we are asking for your help. Donations of money are needed now! The Facebook grant helps with Crook County kids, but we have program funding needs for the kids from La Pine to Madras. Thank you Facebook, we are more grateful than ever for the support at this time!

Life at the Academy during COVID-19

What a strange few weeks we’ve had, unlike any other. We all feel very lucky at the Academy at Sisters. Our students are able to be with each other during this time of social distancing, which we all know is challenging for everyone, but especially teens. We have 20 acres to roam, and lots of inside activities as well.  We’ve had a “salon” day, where the girls did facials, nails, and hair styles. We’ve been baking and cooking a ton, as well as starting seeds in our greenhouse for our organic garden. We’ve been able to find some VERY remote spots to take our students out for hikes and to get a change of scenery. And yes, we’ve also been watching movies and playing games.

We continue to have individual and group therapy, as well as video-family therapy. Our dedicated staff is social distancing when they are not at work, and taking every precaution when they are with our students. Due to our small size and self-containment, our students continue to go to school, at our on-campus school house, everyday. Life is somewhat normal at the Academy, and we are so grateful for our students, their supportive families and our amazing staff.

Vocational School Projects

The youth at the J Bar J Boys Ranch are making good use of the wood shop in the new vocational program building! They recently built birdhouses, and plan to start on corn hole games next week. As they build these projects, they are developing their skills. They will work toward more complicated projects, like picnic tables and benches, next. The boys are enjoying creating and learning skills they can take with them when they finish the program.