Gov. Kate Brown has declared July 21-27 as Pre-Trial, Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week.
Oregon Youth Authority uses this time to recognize Community Services staff for their work making neighborhoods safer. They help youth get the guidance, education, and support they need. That way, youth can go on to lead productive, crime-free lives.
Community Services staff provide the right youth with the right services at the right time. Their work is critical to getting the best outcomes for youth in our care, their families, and our communities.
Who makes up Community Services?
- Juvenile parole and probation officers (JPPOs) and assistants (JPPAs) guide youth from the day they are placed in our care until the day they leave.
- Transition JPPOs help youth to move between placements and reconnect with the community.
- Our team of office specialists support the JPPOs and JPPAs. They are typically the face of OYA for people coming to our field offices.
- Foster care certifiers recruit, train, and support foster parents;
- Our Community Resources Unit works with residential programs to make sure youth receive the treatment they need;
- And still other Community Services staff:
- help youth get health benefits, Social Security payments, and other financial support they are entitled to;
- ensure parents’ child support obligations are met;
- work with county governments to process funding; and
- help administer the Interstate Compact for Juveniles. The compact allows us to supervise youth who are under the jurisdiction of other states.
At a recent all-Community Services staff meeting, the following individuals were honored with Coin Awards, a special recognition for which a co-worker or supervisor submits a nomination. These members of the OYA team are just a few examples of staff moving the agency’s culture through their work as ambassadors of Positive Human Development through their daily contacts with community partners, stakeholders, youth, and families. Their work provides a foundation for youth to improve their lives. The result is improved public safety and fewer victims.
- Michelle Allen, OSII
- Elizabeth Arellano, JPPO
- John Beairsto, JPPO
- Brian Persinger, JPPO
- Ian Rigterink, JPPA
- Eric Wall, CRU
- Tara Williams, Field Supervisor
- Sara Johnson, Rod Green, Amy Pena, Heidi Lung, Levi Miller, Transition JPPOs
Michele Allen, OSII
Michele Allen has been an office specialist at the Deschutes field office for a year and a half. She provides support to JPPOs in four offices covering eight counties. Before coming to OYA, she worked for an attorney in Bend, so she was able to jump in right away, coming with knowledge of court systems, legal documents and proceedings. Still, she reached out to other office specialists and central office staff to find out what she needed to know. Her nomination says she is responsible, trustworthy, detail oriented, organized, solution focused and always willing to help. “What I appreciate about Michele is not just her excellence in work performance, but also what she contributes to a positive work environment within our office, our unit, and the agency,” it reads. “Anyone who meets Michele will quickly see that she is a friendly, caring, positive team member. Michele greets others with a smile, whether a staff, youth, family or the delivery person. Michele exemplifies positive human development principles without even realizing it.”
Not only is she a hard worker, but Allen’s passion for her work is based on personal experience. She spent her youth in and out of the court system, running away from home, doing drugs, and behaving violently toward her family and other youth. “I did not realize all the damage that I did to my family until I moved out at the age of 18 and realized I could not do it on my own,” she said about her turning point. “I had to make a change because the path that I had chosen was dangerous and scary.”
Fifty-one years later, she said that she is proud to work for an agency that supports youth like her.
“All youth need that one person to plant a seed,” she said. “If I can even give to one youth what someone gave to me, it is worth it!”
Elizabeth Arellano, JPPO
Elizabeth Arellano is consistent, helpful, friendly, hardworking, and eager to help her fellow team members in the Multnomah office. She routinely fills in at the Alternative Placement Committee (APC) and will jump in and help where and when she is needed. During the hiring and training period for new staff, Arellano took on additional cases and helped with the hiring process. Arellano has a can-do attitude and embodies the principles of PHD.
John Beairsto, JPPO
As the only JPPO assigned to Josephine County’s office, Beairsto works a diverse and high-risk caseload. He holds his clients accountable but is quick to praise when appropriate. He expects that the youth on his caseload stay busy, either in school or with employment. Beairsto works with each youth on his caseload to help them to learn real-life skills such as budgeting their money, job searches, housing, and making their own appointments. The nomination also applauds Beairsto’s communications skills, whether with his field supervisor or with the county courts and juvenile department. “John is not one to pat himself on the back,” the nomination reads, “but we here in the Southern region, Josephine County Juvenile Department and community partners appreciate what John brings to the table for his youth, families, and all he works with on a daily basis.”
Brian Persinger, JPPO
For the past 18 years, Brian Persinger has not only established himself as a valued member in the OYA Lane County office, but as a respected JPPO in the Lane County law enforcement, social service, and legal communities. For several years, Persinger has supervised the community’s highest risk youth — those heavily involved in gang activity, as well as those adjudicated for serious violent offenses. Persinger routinely collaborates with local and state law enforcement agencies to ensure both community safety and the safety of the youth he’s supervising. He is the first person getting in his car when there is information that a youth with an active warrant is roaming the streets of downtown Eugene. Persinger manages his cases with great compassion and respect for the youth and families he serves. “While he holds youth on his caseload accountable,” the nomination says, “he is also their advocate, as he recognizes the value of giving youth a second chance.” On top of his professionalism, Persinger has a gifted sense of humor and is the first person to volunteer to help, whether it’s with high-risk transports or as backup during contentious court proceedings. The nomination, which comes from a co-worker, talks about how instrumental Persinger was in making her feel welcome at OYA. “He has kept and promoted a positive attitude, helping change the office dynamics to an environment each of us benefit from.”
Ian Rigterink, JPPA
Ian Rigterink, a JPPA for the Clackamas County office, consistently responds to transport requests, goes out of his way to provide assistance, is positive with youth, and has been an excellent role model. An example of all of this, illustrated in his nomination, was when a youth at a program in Portland needed to be at a court hearing in Polk County at 3 p.m. on a Friday. Despite the inconvenient time, Rigterink took the youth, sat through the hearing, then drove him back to Portland in Friday night traffic. “I will be honest: If I had to do that I would have been a little grumpy; however not the case with Ian,” the nominator wrote. “The hearing was a very sensitive issue for this young man, and Ian did a great job keeping this youth on a positive focus on the way down and back up to Portland. Sometimes it happens that OYA becomes the family of the youth we serve. … It is obvious Ian works hard because he cares for the youth and families we serve.”
Tara Williams, Field Supervisor
Tara Williams, who supervises Linn, Benton, Polk Yamhill, and Lincoln counties, was nominated by two members of her staff. One of them noted that they’ve known her for 20 years, having been on the interview panel that hired her as a group life coordinator at Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility. “What I appreciated about her then, as I do now, was her passion for working with the youth we serve, her ability to be consistent and fair in her interactions with youth, in addition to her ability to think outside the box in various situations.” She provides flexibility and support for her team, but allows them to make their own decisions. “Tara allows us opportunities to grow as professionals and to continue learning to be the best that we can,” the other nomination reads. “She will go out of her way to make sure that we all feel supported and appreciated in the work that we do.” Williams is also lauded for her willingness to hear ideas, her readiness to assist her staff with difficult situations and people, her proactive approach to checking in with staff, and her willingness to take on pilot projects despite having an already full schedule. “Tara has a great sense of humor and is a true inspiration to me and the rest of our team,” one nominator writes. “I appreciate that she will risk speaking her mind and challenge some of the things that are agency driven that impact our workload. I see her as a very well-respected person in our agency and rightfully so. Her dedication goes above and beyond the call of duty!”
TJPPOs: Rod Green, Heidi Lung, Levi Miller, Amy Pena, and Sara Johnson
The agency’s five transition JPPOs bring many unique skills to the work that they do when youth are transitioning within the system. They are critically important as an additional support and advocate at some of the most important and more difficult times in a young person’s life. Each of these POs has the ability to reach out to these youth when oftentimes their assigned PO can’t. They provide guidance and support and work collaboratively with other POs, providers, programs, educational systems, and employers, and often respond in times of crisis when the need is the greatest.
One example of this special guidance is when a youth was struggling with his senior project and was nervous about his speech. Transition JPPO Sara Johnson made time for him, helped him with his display board and made sure he was well prepared for his presentation for him to graduate. She gave him the confidence and eased his stress by supporting him.
The transition JPPOs are great resources for their teams, having numerous contacts throughout the state. It’s the building of these business and personal relationships in the communities they serve that benefit OYA, whether it’s helping a youth land employment or finding the right person to answer a question. They are team players — dependable, driven, self-motivated, and always available to assist anyone in need.
Their hard work does not go unnoticed and the entire community services team benefits as a result on their work.