June 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Meet the candidate: Barbie Walker

28 min read
We asked the Ward 7 City Council candidates: What's something the voters might not know about you as a person?

Barbie Walker is now running for Eugene City Council. We asked her: What’s something the voters might not know about you as a person? She spoke about joining an army of women 10 years ago with Junior League of Eugene. Sitting outside with Megan Shultz at one of her businesses:

Barbie Walker: I remember it all very well.

Megan Shultz: It’s all coming back to you.

Barbie Walker: It’s all coming back. I was part of the Junior League of Eugene, and I was the vice president of community enrichment on the executive board. And our focus at the beginning when I started in Junior League in 2013, our focus was for foster and adoptive parents.

[00:00:40] And we would do different things like ‘Pumpkin Patch,’ or back to school, or Thanksgiving baskets, or watch the kids while the parents were doing what they needed to do administratively for their foster and adoptive families and stuff.

[00:00:52] And what happened is we were seeing a progression in at-risk youth, homeless youth in our community. And Junior League decided to say, ‘How are we going to address this, and are there other people addressing this?’ And: ‘These kids they don’t have a place to go. They want to go home, but they can’t go home, necessarily.’

[00:01:13] And so we were approached by Megan Shultz and Greg Erwin, Martin Rafferty of Youth Era, Julia Johnson of 4J School District and Jon Ruiz, city manager. We all came together and started brainstorming ways to form something that isn’t necessarily another nonprofit or another 501(c)(3) but utilize what we already have.

[00:01:38] And we just started from there. 2015 is when I stepped into starting the 15th Night, looking at it at the end of ‘15, ‘16. And here we are.

[00:01:50] Megan Shultz: And here we are.

[00:01:53] Barbie Walker: 2023 and it’s still going. I play more of the sustainer role now in Junior League. That means that you’ve already fulfilled your obligations on the executive boards and climbed the ladder appropriately to learn how to give back and be community-oriented and then speak about it and do measurement, measurements about it.

[00:02:07] And then it’s time to hand it off to some other ladies so that they can grow upon it. You know, we’re all little directors of developments, I suppose, in Junior League. 

[00:02:18] Their main mission statement is: ‘The Junior League of Eugene is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.’

[00:02:36] I love this part: “We are an army of women empowered as agents of positive change, tackling issues facing homeless youth and victims of human trafficking with our community. Whether in the public eye or behind the scenes, Junior League women are committed to moving society forward, challenging the status quo, disrupting convention to ensure a better future for all with decorum because there will be new unforeseen challenges and the women of Junior League will be there, unrelenting voices for action, justice, and lasting meaningful change.’

[00:03:07] Megan Shultz: Well, and the history of Junior League, the things that Junior League has launched in our community, I mean, you probably have a list of that. But like, Relief Nursery is one of them. The Child Advocacy Center is one of them. So there’s things that exist today that were actually launched or supported early on by the Junior League of Eugene. And they took the reins and became leaders of it and then launched it off.

[00:03:32] Barbie Walker: The Relief Nursery, that’s a big one. And the Relief Nursery is still going strong.

[00:03:36] Megan Shultz: There is a big, long list of things that Junior League helped start in this community that are significant that people would go, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that started with that.’ All kinds of things.

[00:03:49] You know, we all stereotype or have assumptions about things and Junior League of Eugene does not match any of the typical stereotypes that a lot of people may think. Because it really is for all women who want to grow, connect with other people, do something that’s impactful in their community and gain some leadership skills, right? And it’s really not for a certain socioeconomic person or a person of color or education or experience.

[00:04:23] It’s really for any woman in our community that really wants to make a difference in that way. And I think they make it really easy too, because there’s not a lot of meetings, you know. You come together and you make things happen.

[00:04:37] Barbie Walker: That’s one of the reasons I joined, is, I have always wanted to do something more, that’s a little bit bigger than me, that’s fulfilling. You know, I went to U of O, so okay, I’m going to school, I own my businesses, but it’s really: How do you give back? How do you fulfill?

[00:04:54] And then I find myself at these different meetings or these different nonprofits, organizations that were giving back and you’d sit around this board table and you don’t want to say something stupid because these people are older and well-versed than you, and especially in their topic.

[00:05:09] And so I joined Junior League not only to fulfill that need that I like to just give back, especially with youth. I’ve just always been really connected with youth. I used to teach and coach Little League soccerpeewee soccer when I was in high school. And then I did it at U of O for the club team. I’ve always just been drawn to that.

[00:05:29] What Junior League provided me is, you would go into the community, and you would have to start speaking to people and board members.

[00:05:38] I remember one time for the 15th Night, we’re in a room full of EPD, and I had to talk about the 15th Night ID program, and I kind of stuttered and stammered a little bit, but you’re going to do that, and you learn how to walk through that, and be comfortable speaking about what means something to you, and find your seat at that table.

[00:05:57] And so then you report back to Junior League, and of course there’s stay-at-home moms, the president there, all walks of life. You learn to be in a safe place to report back your measurements of what you did for the community, what the community told you, and then step by step, you just grew. Like, it’s empowering for women.

[00:06:17] John Q: 15th Night was based on an observation.

[00:06:21] Megan Shultz: It was actually an observation made by Looking Glass Community Services, which is our longest-standing at-risk youth organization here in our community in Eugene-Springfield.

[00:06:32] And their observation was that if there’s a youth and now all of a sudden they’re literally on the street, that we as a community have a narrow window of time to intervene before they’re more likely to experience chronic homelessness. And that is two weeks.

[00:06:47] And when Craig Opperman (who is the executive director of Looking Glass Community Services) shared that observation with the then-City Manager Jon Ruiz, Jon said, ‘Well, wait a second. We need to figure out as a community, how do we ensure that a youth doesn’t have to choose to spend a 15th night on the street?’

[00:07:09] And it really was an aspirational goal and vision of Jon and a handful of community members like Junior League who said, ‘Well, what do we do as a community to do that? How do we make sure that there are choices for youth? And how do we make sure they never even get there in the first place, right? Like, what do we do?’

[00:07:31] And that’s really where I came in.

[00:07:33] John Q: With Barbie Walker, recalling Junior League’s role in supporting 15th Night, Megan Schultz.

[00:07:38] Megan Shultz: So I was the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for 15 years, and I was just transitioning out and opening my own consulting company with actually a former board member from CASA. And the whole idea of the company was called Transformational Community Alignment.

[00:07:58] And it was the belief that in our communities we have the resources and services we need to address any kind of issue. But we need to figure out a way to do it in a coordinated, collaborative, and in a way where, like, everybody knows what’s going on and everyone can participate.

[00:08:18] And so when I was leaving, transitioning from CASA, Jon Ruiz and Greg Erwin (who is a local business owner, Sapient Wealth Management), he and Jon approached me and said, ‘We have this name, 15th Night, and we have this aspirational goal.’ And we came back to them and said, ‘The first thing you need to do is you need to put together a youth action council. Because we as a community really need to be listening to our youth who have lived experience about what to do.’

[00:08:49] Because I think that we all have ideas of what should be done. And of course there’s research and best practices that say what should be done. But I think it’s deeper than that. There’s things that youth experience that we wouldn’t know unless we asked them.

[00:09:07] The other thing that we did was, we, in the back of our heads said, you know what, this person needs to be at this table when we try and figure this out. Junior League. A certain officer at EPD. A former executive director. The United Way. We brought them all together and said, ‘This is our recommendation, that the first thing this group needs to do is put together and support a youth action council.’

[00:09:33] And this team that’s together has to be what I call a ‘Yes Team.’ No is not in your vocabulary.

[00:09:41] Barbie Walker: Remember the pledge we took? We pledged to respond within 24 hours. Always, at any hour, any day. You do it and you’ve got to be, ‘Yes. We can do it. We can. We will find a way. We’ll find a way.’

[00:09:53] Megan Shultz: Right. Because it’s so easy to say, ‘Well, that can’t work. We’ve already tried that before,’ or, ‘There’s this thing, and this barrier, this barrier. So the answer is no.’

[00:10:02] Barbie Walker: I don’t have much of a defeatist mindset in me. Well, and that’s, I’m like, I’m not a defeatist. doesn’t work. And so let’s find a way. There’s always a way.

[00:10:10] Megan Shultz: Right. And so when we started, we had to surround ourselves with people like you.

[00:10:13] Barbie Walker: And the Catalyst Team, the big players, had the wherewithal to say that we need the kids at the table. But really bringing the kids in as big players also empowered them too. The kids as well decided to take this on.

[00:10:27] So I thought that was one of the best things. I wish I would’ve thought of it. That’s brilliant. You know, empower them. Let them have a voice in their own lives. And I think they wanted some self-identity and to be empowered with what they can do to not only help themselves but then their peers also. So that was awesome. As you’re saying, I’m like, Oh yeah, I remember that.

[00:10:46] Megan Shultz: Yeah, it really was that the Yes Team or the Catalyst Team had to be willing to listen to what the Youth Action Council said.

[00:10:56] There’s a federal act called the McKinney-Vento Act that requires every school district to have somebody that’s kind of point for students K-12 who are navigating homelessness and they have, there’s educational protections related to the McKinney-Vento Act.

[00:11:16] So we initially worked with just 4J and Bethel school districts and back in 2015, those two school districts had identified 390 unaccompanied students.

[00:11:28] Unaccompanied means I’m navigating school life and homelessness without my parent or guardian. We care about all youth and we would love to put an end to youth homelessness, zero it out. But let’s start with the kids that are standing on the edge of the abyss, and we know who they are because the schools identify them through their McKinney-Vento liaison.

[00:11:51] So we initially worked with just 4J and Bethel school districts, and back in 2015, those two school districts had identified 390 unaccompanied students.

[00:12:03] And so it was, okay, Youth Action Council, okay, Catalyst Team, how do you support those 390 students to stay engaged in school and not to end up on the street? And if they did, how do we get them off quickly?

[00:12:19] So we had a target population that we initially were looking at. And so then it was like, ‘Well, what do we do? How are we going to do this?’

[00:12:28] Barbie Walker: So they’re identified. Well, great, y’all know who it is. Now what? Now how do you connect them to the triage of different nonprofits we have, such as Looking Glass, Station 7, and Transitional LivingThe MissionFirst Place Family.

[00:12:42] Megan Shultz: So we have the initial mapping of what is out there already that we know of, the kids know of. And Youth Action Council wanted to ask them two questions:

[00:12:52] What resources and services—had you known about them and been able to ask for them—may have helped you stay connected to school and not drop out while you were navigating homelessness?

[00:13:01] If you did drop out and ended up on the street, what resources and services may have helped you get off more quickly?

[00:13:08] And so they actually worked with Oregon Social Learning Center and created a survey that then they took out onto the street, and so between the two, we came up with this list, really long list, of 65 different resources and services.

[00:13:27] And they’re the easy things, like food, shoes, clothes, and they’re the really hard things, like shelter, housing, family mediation, drug and alcohol treatment, and just every single thing you can imagine in between.

[00:13:41] And then what the adult team did was we went out into our service providing community and said, we would show them this list and we would say, ‘Do you do any of these things?’

[00:13:53] And what’s great about this is that, when we took this list out to the network of service providers in our community—we’re coming empty-handed, there’s no money, there’s no nothing—we’re just saying, ‘Can you do this, or would you do this for the 390 unaccompanied students identified at 4J / Bethel?’ And every single organization that we contacted said yes, without hesitation, and that created a network.

[00:14:22] And we now have a network of over 40 different organizations that includes Junior League of Eugene that are providing those resources and services. But we built a little network at the beginning.

[00:14:36] Barbie Walker: But we had a game plan. We knew from the beginning that there was going to be multiple steps and how to triage it which way. And we weren’t trying to reinvent another nonprofit. We wanted to utilize what was already there, but we wanted to bring them all together to be talking to each other and working with us and each other.

[00:14:54] So that it’s not just shuffling another youth through life. It’s actually making a substantial progress for their life. Providing what they need right now, but then having an ultimate goal, like what a parent would do is help a child walk them through steps of life, right?

[00:15:14] Megan Shultz: Any of us, I mean it’s hard for any of us to ask for help but imagining a high school student, a student in unfamiliar territory (right) asking for help.

[00:15:24] Barbie Walker: Or then when they do, the amount of roadblocks and barriers. Imagine going to the counter to get a health plan, or food stamps, or housing, or an ID, and, ‘Well do you have your birth certificate? Do you have this, do you have that?’ ‘Well, no I don’t.’ You’re already intimidated.

[00:15:41] We had goals set up in getting them there. And it can be really intimidating for a kid that does try to go and do the right, correct thing and they get these roadblocks. And then it’s just like, ‘Okay. Forget that. Forget it. I’m done. I’m not going to do it.’

[00:15:55] And so we provided some of that help, like a parent or a coach or someone that would guide to walk them through that to be right there, right by their side, whether it’s filling out a form or taking them to the DMV to get their ID, or filling out a resume with them for their first job, is really how we connect those dots.

[00:16:15] Megan Shultz: Yeah, and we wanted to figure out, well, who would these youth ask for help? Who would they go to and, you know, typically that would be like the school resource officers that were then in those schools, the librarians downtown in the Teen Center, and service providers, so they may have been at Looking Glass or Hosea Youth Services.

[00:16:37] So what we did was we reached out to our tech community and we said, ‘We have this network of providers and we have this list of resources and we need to be able to connect youth who ask for help to this network in real time.’

[00:16:58] And so, our tech community here in Eugene developed what’s called the Rapid Access Network, which was launched in 2016.

[00:17:07] Barbie Walker: It’s a website that advocates could go to, and enter what the need was. A lot of it, when you’re transitioning between seasons, what I saw is the kids are going from summer to now winter, but they’re wearing flip flops, you know, or tank tops and they need a jacket. It started off something as simplistic as that, but it’s so humanizing to then have a jacket and new school shoes.

[00:17:32] Megan Shultz: The Rapid Access Network is web-based and so the adult that the student or youth is talking to can send an alert and it goes out via text message and an email into the network.

[00:17:46] So, if Barbie comes and tells me that she needs shoes and mental health services, I can go onto the website and log in and say, ‘Shoes, mental health services,’ and it goes out immediately. And it only goes to the providers in the network that do shoes or mental health. So if I do job assistance or food, I don’t get the alert. I’m only getting the alert for the things that my organization said they could do.

[00:18:12] Once we started doing something, we said, ‘Well, how do we know that we’re making a difference?’ And what we wanted to do was be able to track the graduation rates of the unaccompanied.

[00:18:26] So that was in the works. It’s harder than you think. The school districts had to have MOUs (Memorandum Of Understanding) around data, and that took a long time.

[00:18:37] So by the time we were ready to start tracking data, COVID hits and everything changes and schools lost track of your unaccompanied because look, you know, they’re not at somebody’s house where you could bring an iPad.

[00:18:50] Before COVID hit, we were tracking like, ‘What are the alerts? How many alerts are going out?’ And one of the big things that they were going out for, food and food stamps or getting on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) applications was a big thing.

[00:19:04] But also the Oregon IDs, because if you don’t have an id and let’s say you want to take your GED (tests of General Educational Development), you can’t do it without an Oregon ID. You want to get a job? You can’t do it without an Oregon ID. You need an Oregon ID. You need your birth certificate, your Social Security card. And at that time, $44.50. And so what we learned from the RAN (Rapid Access Network) and from continuing to work with the Youth Action Council was: What are the barriers to these resources?

[00:19:36] And so that’s where Junior League stepped in, big time, because they received alerts for Oregon IDs and they took it from there.

[00:19:44] Barbie Walker: The 15th Night was starting, and I remember Julia Johnson and Megan, and she said, ‘We have another ask.’ And what’s happening is exactly what she just said, these kids are getting so they want to go to school, they’re going to school, and they’re getting so far, and then they’ve got to take their GED.

[00:19:59] Well, you need an Oregon ID to do that, but here’s the thing, the school can’t fund the Oregon ID. IDs, they can’t pay for it. I said, well, that’s great ’cause we are a non-profit and we can. And so once again, it’s the, ‘We can,’ and we set up what you need to go to the DMV and then walk out of there with an ID, essentially.

[00:20:19] And what we would do is we would go and meet with these kids, whether they were up at ECCO (when it was at Lane up there), or downtown, or a couple other schools. And I would set up a table with another junior leader and I would have the DMV form and I would just go through it with them and they would fill it out.

[00:20:36] And I would say, if we come to a barrier, that’s okay. Let’s just highlight it. And there’s some kids that wouldn’t know their mother’s maiden name, things like that, that you would need in order to get your ID from the DMV, so there’s a barrier. That’s okay. Good. We’ll get through it.

[00:20:52] And I think the first year, if I can remember, we had 25 kids. And so we walked through the DMV applications and then if they didn’t have a place that they received mail at or where they lived, the awesome thing is the school district provided the address, because you need that to go to the DMV.

[00:21:11] And then we gathered the students and let them, let the DMV know. We know that we’re coming down and we rode the LTD bus all together, picked a date, and went to the DMV. We would go counter by counter and I would have either my own personal debit card or Julia would have her personal debit card, or I’d have the Junior League one, and we would go counter to counter.

[00:21:32] And I remember specifically, there was a one child and she went to the counter and the ladies at DMV were great but there was a barrier there and somewhere the communication wasn’t happening. And she looked up and she yelled across the room, ‘I knew this was going to happen, Julia, I knew it, I knew it,’ because they don’t have the tools to handle any more barriers in their life. They’re already dealing with day-to-day barriers. And I said okay, so I said all right we’re going to walk over there so I walked over there and what she essentially needed was in her backpack and so we found it.

[00:22:06] And some of them would be so proud. They wanted their picture taken. And it was more than just being able to get your GED. That was okay, great, I can do my GED now.

[00:22:15] And I think a lot of kids, or maybe parents, take for granted the life step of going to get your ID or your permit. These kids would be so smiling and so happy because it was like they were a part of community and somebody cared enough to walk them through the form that even some adults can’t do.

[00:22:35] You don’t have your birth certificate. Let’s go get one. All right. You don’t have your Social Security card. Let’s go get you one. I happen to know where the Social Security office is. And then they have it, you know, the final reward. And then we’d all walk down because Izzy’s Pizza was right there.

[00:22:48] We walked down and we’d have pizza and then what the sustainers for Junior League did is they bought a bunch of wallets and purses. They could pick a wallet and a purse so they could put their ID and there’s a little, I think there was a gift card for a sandwich place somewhere or something like that. A gift card for them as well.

[00:23:07] So it was a whole experience of: You did it. You did it from start to finish. I just opened the door for you. 15th Night just opened the door, but you filled out the form. You made sure you were at the bus stop to take the bus with me and you walked up to the counter. I was just there to make sure it all came to fruition.

[00:23:24] And then that turned into, some kids actually wanted to take the test to be able to get their permit. We decided, well, why not? You don’t have to just have an ID. Why don’t you just, so they’d sit at the computer and some of them would pass the first time, and a lot of them didn’t, but like, we’ll take you again. And then when they got that permit, it was the same thing, like, ‘Look, how cool is this?’ You know, all funded.

[00:23:45] And then 15th Night, Megan and I got to talking, and at this point, the next step was, how do we get this funded, so I’m not paying for it individually? Junior League’s not paying for it individually. And that’s where Julia Johnson came into play. And Deborah Dailey’s right in there too with the McKinney-Vento kids. Like, we all really do work together. And I said, well, let’s see if we can meet with Rep. (John) Lively.

[00:24:08] And he met with us at a Starbucks. And we pitched it to him, this is what’s going on, and we had some measurements, because I think it had been going on for three years now. This is what we did, 25 here, 50 kids next year. I think it was like 65 to 75 the next year. And he said, ‘Yeah, there’s plenty, let’s do it.’

[00:24:24] They were already working on, when inmates get released, the same kind of thing was happening to them. No birth certificate, not the different credentials that you need in order to go get an ID. Well, without an ID, no job, and a slew of things, no housing. And so they were already working on that. And I said, ‘Well, can we tag along with that?’

[00:24:43] And it did ultimately pass and got funded by the state, so that the school districts or whoever was the advocate that thought this child met the requirements was the one that could fill out a form and get it funded by the state.

[00:24:58] Then the DMV, this is more recent, within the last five years, came out with their own form they had their preliminary form. It came out with another form, that was the actual form for homeless youth, anyone navigating homelessness, that they could get an ID paid for. So there’s not that barrier anymore.

[00:25:22] Megan Shultz: Well, that’s what it’s all about, right? That’s what the 15th Night is all about, is understanding what the needs are, understanding what the barriers are, and then figuring out the solution. And we have so many people that are like Barbie that are: ‘Yes, yes, let’s figure this out.’

[00:25:38] And so things have continued to get figured out. So as we understand what the barriers are from you.

[00:25:45] Barbie Walker: Then you start getting people that want to donate and fund some of this also. They go, ‘That barrier makes sense to take that away.’ Because there is a step process that leads to an ultimate goal that really is empowering people and bringing them to the next step of humanity and empowering them to live on their own two feet.

[00:26:05] So that was the next step then, so 15th Night’s formed, Rapid Access Network formed, more players are starting to come in, this is working, ID program is what I am focused on, there was other programs too when it comes to mentorship and counseling, stuff like that.

[00:26:20] It’s like, well, now they need some jobs. Now, these kids have not had any jobs at all. And they don’t know a resume. They don’t necessarily have the clothes to wear for an interview. And I said, ‘I can do it right now.’ I happen to own restaurant/bars and that’s one of the first jobs some kids get, is being a hostess or dishwasher and there’s other ones too. We’ve got the wood products sector or Youth Corps and you know, it’s the food and beverage production sectors is usually kind of what kids do.

[00:26:52] So I said, ‘Well, let’s just get the kids in right now, you know, and I will help them get them here.’ And I know a lot of different players in the restaurant hospitality business that might want to jump on board with this.

[00:27:05] With that said, I also have to make sure that there’s a little bit more help along the way. So these resumes are going to maybe not have an address quite yet, but work experience, none. Phone number to reach at, none. Email, well, I don’t really check it, you know? And so I started working with Hosea Youth and 15th Night. Who are your kids that you think would fit the mold for hospitality, restaurant business?

[00:27:33] And one of the first interviews I had was with Hosea Youth, Gabrielle Merkwan, and same thing. I just said, any other person interviewing this resume that clearly has nothing would have been, ‘Okay, thank you. Next?  We need someone to hire.’

[00:27:46] But I hired her and I said, ‘Here’s the thing: I’m opening this door. I will be here for you, but your point of contact is the manager, right? And they’re going to help, they’re going to help you along the way. So feel free to ask them anything, but I also have to make sure that my staff doesn’t feel marginalized or there’s special treatment and it creates dissension among the staff: Why does this person get a different set of rules and I don’t? So these kids did have to live up to these rules as well. You don’t want that favoritism.

[00:28:17] And they didn’t all work out. Some of them I opened the doors for and something traumatic would happen along the way and they stopped showing up to work. Or abuse, substance abuse would take over.

[00:28:25] So, the great thing about Gabrielle (Merkwan) is—fast forward with her: She’s a highlight of Hosea Youth. She now has her own apartment, and she is self-sufficient. I did co-sign for her apartment, I did, everyone thought I was crazy and I’m like, ‘I believe in this kid.’ So I co-signed for her apartment, she’s moved out of that one and has her own now.

[00:28:45] And so now you see the progression of it all, how 15th Night started here with Junior League and the need that people saw in coming together. Now we’ve got the Rapid Access (Network), now we’ve got the ID program, then we got the ID program funded, vocational program, now, she’s off on her own with her own family, you know?

[00:29:04] Megan Shultz: That’s awesome. It’s really kept our community coming together. And you know, Barbie as a business owner and her own person is a part of the 15th Night, and Junior League was a part of the 15th night, but all these other organizations, businesses and agencies, state agencies, schools, they’re all part of the 15th Night. And everybody’s come together and it’s really about listening to what youth have to say, like that’s always first and foremost. And then (2) is finding a way to make things happen and removing barriers.

[00:29:43] And together this huge community has made those things happen, based on what our Youth Action Council said was, we need to help the schools understand what’s helpful and what’s not when you’re a student navigating homelessness.

[00:29:52] And we knocked on principals’ doors and Dr. Andy Dey, he was the principal at South Eugene High School when I knocked on the door with another catalyst team member, Marshall Peter, and we said, Hey, the Youth Action Council / 15th Night, they want us to get into the schools and we don’t know what we’re doing. And Andy was like, ‘Okay, well, we’ll figure it out together.’

[00:30:15] And what we figured out together was whatever we did in a school had to be for any student who needed anything for any reason, because if we help all students access their own school-based resources they are more likely to reach out and ask for help, right? Because it’s normalizing, it’s normalizing asking for help. And so—

[00:30:39] Barbie Walker: And educating themselves, you know, they’ve asked for help in a way that it’s: ‘Educate me on how to navigate this and this world, this adult world and this system.’

[00:30:47] It’s empowering yourself to navigate this and ask for: ‘Well, tell me more about that. Teach me about that.’

[00:30:55] Megan Shultz: So there is a rapid access network in every high school in 4J, Bethel, Springfield. And now we’re in Creswell, Mapleton, Junction City, South Lane County. And then we’ll go out, and what we’ve learned is: It’s the same thing, right?

[00:31:15] It’s what resources and services do you have inside of your school? And nobody knows. There wasn’t one person. So we go in and we talk to all the staff, you know, the math teacher, the P.E. teacher, the custodian, the cook, the librarian. We’ll say, what resources and services do you have in your school for any student?

[00:31:35] And we spend a couple days there. We’re just listening and taking notes. And what we find out by the end is, oh, they actually have, the school has quite a number of resources and services. But we also understand like what are gaps and barriers and needs.

[00:31:52] We also do this now with students. We do a student assessment where we go into typically health classes and work in a different way. We’re asking students the same thing but in a different way: What resources or services do you know about? What are the barriers? What are the needs?

[00:32:09] And we take that information from both staff and students and create a report that says to that particular high school, here’s all the great things about your high school. Here’s some things that aren’t so great. And here are some recommendations for how to meet those needs or remove those barriers and really promoting youth student voice in the solution-building.

[00:32:33] And some schools have just done an amazing job with that piece and so an example of something like this is like every school has a clothing closet. Oh yeah. Every school. And every school puts them in a back closet somewhere, because they don’t want to embarrass the student who needs to come and get the clothes.

[00:32:56] And what we found out from talking to students and the advocacy council, that’s actually the opposite. It’s that it is more embarrassing to go find someone and have to go into this little room and get these, whatever you need, a sweatshirt. Like it’s a hidden disgrace.

[00:33:12] And so we said to the students, well, what do we do? We know there’s students who need clothes. What do we do? And they’re like, “They need to be out in the open, like a clothing boutique.’ And so most schools have moved, their clothing closets have now become boutiques in the cafeteria. It’s wide open. Usually a merchandising class runs it, you know.

[00:33:37] Barbie Walker: They normalize it. That’s cool.

[00:33:39] Megan Shultz: It’s the same premise, though: Surround yourself with people that say yes. They can find the yes, listen to you, involve the entire community of, in this case of the entire community of a school, or in our entire community of Eugene Springfield.

[00:33:55] John Q: Barbie Walker joined an army of women 10 years ago, developed her leadership skills, and now she’s running for the Eugene City Council. We checked in with the president of Junior League of Eugene. How can women get involved?

[00:34:09] Monique Offet: You can go to our website at JLEugene.org to get a little bit more information on membership stuff. Our membership committee is super awesome about putting on recruitment and informational events too. We host a meeting every first Monday of the month starting in September, ending in May, because June is kind of a special event for members at the end of the year.

[00:34:31] But if you were interested in seeing exactly what we do, coming in, checking out one of those meetings, you’ll get a little bit of a training. You’ll see the committees chatting about what our next steps are in terms of maybe membership recruitment or what our community enrichment team is getting ready to go out there and do and, you know, they’re the boots on the ground people.

[00:34:53] Or even just fundraising, what’s our next fundraiser to be able to obtain this money to go out there and do all these things, you know? So that’s a good way too.

[00:35:04] We want to make sure that we’re coming up with these boots on the ground things, these awareness projects. But, you know, a big part of that also is giving these training opportunities for women to be able to explore adventures they never thought they would be able to explore, you know, like, or give them the opportunity to get out of the house, maybe as simple as that.

[00:35:25] Maybe they’re new to this town. Maybe they just want to meet friends, you know, maybe they have a passion for, you know, our mission and so they want to get out there and be able to explore, you know, places that they would have never been able to explore because they didn’t know about them.

[00:35:41] Maybe they want to learn how to run a board. So they are hopping into big roles and they want to learn how to be a treasurer on a board, you know, and move that into future careers.

[00:35:55] I know that personally, I found my love for homeless youth, and I work now downtown through Looking Glass. So I found my passion and my love for it because of Junior League, and because they gave me the opportunity to see a world I never knew existed.

[00:36:15] Everybody who identifies as a woman, it is open to them. We hold our membership meetings at Capitello Winery downtown. I want people to come check it out and see exactly what we’re about because I feel like you can’t get the full Shabam! without actually experiencing it yourself. And you know, that’s going to be the ultimate goal is to get women to come and check it out.

[00:36:40] John Q: Junior League of Eugene meets every first Monday downtown. Learn more and get involved at their website, JLEugene.org

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