We felt safe, and we felt like we could be ourselves.
You are a part of our success. You haven’t met us yet, but we’d like to share our story with you, and invite you into our celebration. We’re Jay, Christian, and Cameron—a loving family excited for the future. Before having our son, we both experienced homelessness and we benefited from the support of Outside In.
We worked so hard, but we couldn’t do it alone. We needed help to overcome years of danger and homelessness. This is where you, and all the supporters of Outside In, became part of our story. Outside In has been doing this work in Portland for decades. On June 21st they’re celebrating their 54th anniversary! They’ve helped thousands of people over the years—people like us.
Everyone has goals for themselves and we’re no different. Jay has long dreamed about graphic design, and she plans on getting an art degree and selling her work freelance. After finishing his associates degree, Christian plans to pursue civil engineering and minor in environmental studies so he can help Portland stay accessible and environmentally friendly. Because of donors like you, our goals and dreams are coming true. We’re going to college—we both just made the dean’s list this semester! We’re working and joyfully raising our little boy.
No one should have to live a life of poverty and sleeping on the streets. We were without a home in our late teens. Jay was kicked out of a troubled home environment. Christian left home at 14 after abuse and neglect. We couch-surfed with friends, coworkers, and family members for as long as we could. Ultimately, we ended up with nowhere to go.
It’s hard to be a homeless highschooler, even if you’re working. We looked for refuge where we could find it. We slept in shelters, public libraries, and even a church basement. In the end we used our last $30 to buy a tent. Then a friend told us about Outside In, and we were able to move into their onsite housing. We had nutritious meals every day. We felt safe, and we felt like we could be ourselves.
The staff treated us like adults—like real people. We were working, saving money, and paying bills. Outside In helped Jay to land an internship and we both got help figuring out our goals and securing jobs.
Pregnancy could have totally derailed our plans, but Outside In had our backs every step of the way. They immediately introduced us to the parenting specialist on staff. Their medical clinic set us up with doctors and insurance and all the support we needed.
Being a first-time parent is wonderful but can be overwhelming. Outside In staff helped us to get mental health support, childcare, and even a stroller. Any time we told them anything we needed, staff helped us to find tools. They immediately said, “Here’s a resource.”
Thanks to you and your support of Outside In, our future is looking bright and we’re looking forward to our son’s future too. Cameron is so social and vibrant. He’s always on the move, singing and dancing. He loves Spiderman and he’s curious about everything!
Outside In doesn’t just save lives, it also gives people the tools they need to succeed in the future. That is something we will be thankful for forever. When we finally moved into our own apartment, we dropped to the floor in relief and stayed there for a good hour. We didn’t care that there was no furniture yet. After so much hardship, we had a place we could call our own. It felt so good. We were giddy: “It’s ours,” we said, “and we don’t have to leave!”
Thank you for being a part of our story. Moments like these are what you invest in by giving to Outside In.
In deep thanks,
Jay and Christian (and Cameron!)