National Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 7-13 — a perfect time for us to thank all those who dedicate their time and energy to supporting the youth in our care and custody. OYA volunteers play a crucial role in the development and reformation of OYA youth, whether it’s through hosting enrichment groups, acting as mentors and role models, or simply sharing their talents. Through their work, they equip youth with new skills and empower them to become productive, crime-free members of their communities.
We don’t have space to thank all of volunteers individually, but below are a few amazing examples of volunteers who go above and beyond to enrich the lives of OYA youth and make Oregon a safer and more positive place to live.
Interested in joining them? Fill out an application here. Volunteers must be age 21 or older, with certain exceptions for students in accredited internship programs, and consent to a criminal history check.
Randy Butler, pastor of Salem Evangelical Church
Pastor Butler and his church have been very involved with OYA for many years, starting at Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility and moving over to MacLaren. They have held church services inside the facilities, donated numerous items to brighten youths’ holidays, and, in Randy’s case, regularly visited youth on intake to become a positive adult mentor. In 2018, Randy led a fundraiser at his church that collected $110,000 to install a new gym floor at MacLaren. “If there is one group of people in Oregon that we ought to embrace, it should be the boys and girls of OYA,” Butler says. “As Oregonians, we are all family, and family helps family.”
Carlos Chavez, executive director of Morpheus Youth Project
Carlos has been a longtime volunteer at MacLaren through Hope Partnership, a Janus Youth Programs initiative that connects MacLaren youth with the community through volunteer-led workshops and classes focused on the arts, life skills, vocational training, and transition services. Among other activities, Chavez has offered breakdancing classes and a radio journalism program where youth produce a regular show, Prison Pipeline, for Portland’s KBOO community radio. (You can find Morpheus Youth Project here.)
Charles Tailfeathers Sr. (Cree/Blackfeet)
Tailfeathers has worked with Confederate Tribes of Grand Ronde to bring an annual mentoring and ceremony event at MacLaren for Native American youth. He and other Native American singers, drummers, and tribal elders support a talking circle where the community volunteers mentor and share their stories and music with youth. They also organize several ceremonies to promote healing and change for the youth, including prayer tie-making and sweat lodge. “We want to coordinate some values with the kids,” Tailfeathers says. “It doesn’t matter what tribe or nationality they are. … It’s about what values we can build into them so they don’t go back to the old way of life when they return home.”
Nick Hall and Mary Tinoco (Grandma Mary) at Rogue Valley
Services for Native youth at Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility have been very strong for many years. Grandma Mary visits units and knows every youth at the facility. She teaches beading and regalia-making and she regularly makes her famous fry bread for them. They show great respect for her and even do 10 pushups if they swear in her presence. Nick teaches them about their Native American culture/traditions and holds ceremony for them twice a month. Youth must build a trusting relationship with him before they are able to attend lodge.
Tribal community leaders
We host annual pow wows in several of our facilities. We are grateful to our tribal communities and members who support bringing culture and traditions in OYA facilities to share with youth in OYA care. We are especially thankful to Nick Sixkiller (Master of Ceremonies), Ed Goodell (ceremonial/spiritual whip man), Bill Stam (Color Guard), Chet Clark and family (drum), and Stuart Whitehead (head male dancer), and Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA, drum), and several more volunteers for all of their support for several facilities each year.
Ian Dobson, professional running coach and Olympian
Dobson has been a big supporter of the marathon program at MacLaren, but most recently, he’s also been lending his support and expertise to the young runners at Oak Creek. Dobson, who competed in the men’s 5000 meters at the 2008 Olympics, is a coach with Team Run Eugene. He has cheered on our young runners at multiple events, offering support and tips, and helped collect donated running gear for the youth.
Ashley Espinoza, president of Latino Professionals Connect in Eugene
Espinoza recently visited the Haag Home residential program to meet with youth and begin forging connections that could potentially lead to future mentoring or employment opportunities for youth in the community. Espinoza, who is a sector strategy director for Lane Workforce Partnership, is working to bring more business professionals to Haag for networking events and to organize opportunities for the youth to visit local businesses and potential employers.
Maryanne Azdine, Caroline Richardson, and Ed Schulmerich: Foundation for Academic and Cultural Exchange (FACE)
Maryanne, Caroline, and Ed are altruists at heart. They have volunteered with OYA in different ways for the past 20 years (recruiting speakers and cultural performers, organizing art classes, and more). This past Christmas, they provided gifts, a meal, and holiday fun for youth at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility. They focused on 30 youth who were identified as not having a lot of family support. These volunteers are always willing to support the youth and remind them that there are people in the community who care and want them to be successful.
Erica Nuñez, OYA Latino Advisory Committee
Erica is a Portland area community member and co-facilitator of the Latino/a Advisory Committee. Erica has dedicated time and resources to support our staff, youth and families at OYA. Not only does she provide services to youth and families within OYA, she provides services to families and youth throughout the Latino community. Her partnership has given us the ability to learn of great resources and engagement in the community. She has been a helping hand for the many events OYA has held throughout the years. We are forever grateful for her dedication, contribution and time invested in serving youth and families.
Claire Larson, Eastern Oregon rescue dog volunteer
Claire Larson brings rescued dogs to Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility for the youth there to help train. She has volunteered for a long time at Eastern (longer than most people can remember!). Claire is very generous with volunteering her time and making sure youth have the best opportunities to work with the dogs she brings into the facility.
Juanita Garnow leads a weekly beading and jewelry workshop at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility. Additionally, she has secured more than $2,000 in grants, takes youth art to Portland Bead Society and Gathering of the Guilds art shows, helped secure an art therapy program contact for the youth at MacLaren, and has brought on board four more volunteer artists and numerous guest artists. Juanita has been a volunteer at MacLaren through Hope Partnership for eight and a half years.
Francesca Piantadosi, playwright
Francesca has led a play writing workshop at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility for eight years. She secured a grant with Rogue Pack to host a play reading during the 2017 Fertile Ground event in Portland. She brings in professional actors and directors to read the youth plays and works with youth on units.
MacLaren celebrates its volunteers
MacLaren YCF, OYA’s largest facility, saw 129 volunteers serve 4,799 hours last year. This year they have already served 1,526 hours. As a thank you, the front gate is decorated with a poster, cards, and celebratory pins for volunteers. Youth drew pictures and wrote poems for their mentors and volunteers. Staff will recognize the volunteers with the most hours served this year. Some of the volunteers being recognized include:
• Deb Arthur, who conducts the Inside/Out college class with Hope Partnership. She also tutors students and collaborates on other Hope Partnership projects. A volunteer since 2015, she has 168 recorded hours of service.
• Stephen Downs provides mentoring and religious programming support. A volunteer since 2017, he has 201 recorded hours.
• Holly Fritz is a Hope Partnership mentor and group leader. A volunteer since 2016, she has 960 recorded volunteer hours.
• Tracy Lucas is a Project POOCH volunteer since around 2015. She has 475 recorded volunteer hours.
• Charles McAdams has been a religious mentor since 2017. He has logged 331 volunteer hours.
• Mark Oronzio has been a Project POOCH volunteer since around 2015. He has logged 428 volunteer hours.
• Norman Zollner, a religious volunteer since around 2015, has logged 406 total volunteer hours.