Rafting and Growth

Several of our upper level students celebrated the end of the Academy at Sisters’ school year with a raft trip. The trip was a “Celebration Adventure”, an invitation for inspiration and reflection on their growth and progress. During their four-night trip on the Deschutes, the girls pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones by paddling kayaks through rapids or by jumping off high banks into swimming holes.

Time spent in nature is good for all of us, bringing a sense of well-being and peace. Adventure can offer feelings of accomplishment when we’ve succeeded in facing our fears. For youth working to overcome challenges, the combination of the two can be a powerful learning tool.

In outdoor experiential learning and therapy, the girls may fall back on old coping mechanisms such as retreating or yelling, which don’t work. Others may see a shift in their beliefs about ‘locus of control.’ Understanding whether one controls the events in their life or they just happen to us. The goal of understanding this is gaining empowerment and moving away from the role of victim. Team activities help girls discover leadership skills. Group discussions with the clinical staff during the trip helped the students understand and verbalize what they learned.

Several students graduated the program and/or high school shortly after the trip. It was a jumping off point to their next phase in their life; whether it be going home, going off to college, or returning to the Academy with an increase of motivation and self-awareness.

A Home For Logan

A call recently came to Kindred Connections from an attorney working to help a teen through a time of crisis. The boy’s life at home had been a struggle, and he had been kicked out, through no fault of his own. This young boy (we’ll call him Logan) was heading to Oregon Youth Challenge Program (OYCP) and had no place to live for the month before he started his program.

Logan’s lawyer had called 20 different agencies in their county, but could not find a place for him to live for the month before his move to Bend. He then called Kindred Connections and after reaching out to the volunteers a couple stepped forward ready to bring Logan into their home and lives.

Over the next weeks this couple helped Logan get a short-term job, a gym pass, new insurance, and complete many of his OYCP requirements and they showed Logan love. When he left their home to transition to another host home (they had vacation plans), they told Logan that they would continue to be in his life. Logan said “Wow…I didn’t expect them to say that. I thought I didn’t have anyone in my life I could count on and now I have them. They are kind of like parents now.”

These moments remind us that Kindred Connections volunteers seek to shine love on those hurting, in need, and struggling, and they do this as volunteers, without anything in return. These volunteers offer time, resources, open their homes and continue to give selflessly. It is a joy for all of us to witness…and the volunteers always say they are the ones blessed when hosting a youth.

Continuum of Care Is Essential To Helping Kids and Families

Most of the youth and families receiving support from the programs under J Bar J require a holistic approach to their situation and multiple services to help them reach stability. A recent example highlighting how services come together was when a teenager needed housing. Sara was living in a vehicle with her mother and siblings. Her mother had escaped an abusive situation and fled to Bend with her children. However, addiction issues made living in most shelters problematic as they require clean and sober residents. She had run out of options.  

Sara was a good student and worked hard, but homelessness made even simple things like getting to school a struggle. A teacher at Sara’s high school recommended she look into services at Cascade Youth & Family Center and The LOFT, our transitional living shelter for runaway and homeless youth. Sara was eligible for lodging at The LOFT and her family was referred to other programs under the umbrella of J Bar J Youth Services.

First, The Street Outreach Program checked in with the family and helped secure a temporary hotel room and provided groceries. Kindred Connections, our program providing support to families in crisis, sometimes by temporarily hosting a child in someone’s home, worked to find them a longer term place to park an RV a donor had offered. The family was reunited in a living situation where her mom could then find support in her recovery.

Other services are called on when needed. The Anti- Trafficking Project provides case management to survivors of human trafficking and The Independent Living Program teaches life skills to current and former foster children living in one of our 3 shelter programs: The LOFT, Grandma’s House, or a Kindred Connections Family.

There are many community services J Bar J programs network with to assure youth in our programs have what they need to sustain a transition to self-sufficiency and reach long term success.

Mosaic Medical for health care and A Smile for Kids, providing orthodontics for underserved youth are examples of our generous medical community partners.  Furnish Hope is a community partner that helps a house become a home for a youth or family as they transition into their own living space.  

An important piece of this network is helping kids get to higher education. COCC’s Latinx Student Program refers youth to our Big Brothers Big Sisters Latinx Mentor Program supported by Oregon Community Foundation to mention just one.  Students in a mentoring relationship are more likely to complete high school and attend higher education.   When youth need help overcoming obstacles, it requires a holistic, community approach. It does take a village. Our village is very generous!

Get Your Waddle On!

Tickets are now on sale for The Duck Race–in this, the 32nd consecutive year for this fundraiser, we’ll be helping Deschutes Children’s Foundation, J Bar J Youth Services, KIDS Center, and Mountain Star.

With your ticket purchase, you will also be entered into weekly drawings for a local $100 fine dining experience, as well as the main Duck Race raffle drawing on September 12th with over $13K in prizes, including $5,000 CASH! Additional prizes include Hoodoo Ski Area season passes, diamond earrings from Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, a helicopter tour sponsored by Cascade Insurance Center, and more.

Buy a duck and change a life

The Great Drake Park Duck Race is presented by the Bend area Rotary clubs and sponsored by Credit Unions Working Together (First Community Credit Union, Mid Oregon Credit Union, OnPoint Community Credit Union, and SELCO Community Credit Union).

2021 prize sponsors include Hoodoo Ski Area, Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, Miller Lumber, Cascade Insurance Center, Webfoot Painting, Zivney Financial Group, Bend Heating & Sheet Metal, The Pennbrook Company, Century Insurance, PacificSource Health Plans, and RBC Wealth Management. Media sponsors include the Bend Radio Group, The Bulletin, Cascades Business News, Central Oregon Daily, Combined Communications, KOAK 105.7, and News Channel 21. In-kind support is provided by Carlson Sign, Smartz, and Xpress Printing.

Get your tickets and support us here: https://www.theduckrace.com/shop/ (And, feel free to forward this to friends and colleagues who might want to buy tickets too!)