Community generosity has enabled 11 young people connected to the Jackson Street Youth Shelter to attend this weekend’s PeaceJam Northwest conference at Oregon State University.
The annual conference started in 2005. It brings high school-aged participants and their chaperones to campus for a series of workshops and local service projects. Many participants travel from all over the West Coast to attend, but until this year, no formal invitation had been sent to Jackson Street, a shelter for homeless, runaway and youth from Benton and Linn counties.
The 11 youth will be among 200 students attending this year. They will have their choice to work on one of 16 service projects, attend some of the 15 workshops, meet with this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum and work on a “global call to action” project they can bring back to their community after the conference.
“(The conference) is supposed to be a gathering to get inspiration,” Shouvlin said. “We’re putting credibility in the power of youth.”
Mary Shouvlin, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer helping put on this year’s PeaceJam, said the conference organizers’ contact with local musician Laurie Childers and the Benton County Commission on Children and Families convinced them to think of how Jackson Street’s youth could benefit from the conference.
Childers’ band RiverRocks raised enough money to send 11 young people and two chaperones — each paying $75 in registration costs — to this year’s conference.
Three of the conference participants are living at Jackson Street. Two have stayed at the shelter before, and the remaining six had accessed the shelter’s youth services in the past. They were referred to Jackson Street’s shelter director KendraSue Phillips-Neal by partnering services, such as the local Boys & Girls Club.
Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or email@example.com.