As we drove up NW 13th to visit Outside In, we passed a long line of tents. What we learned from Kiku Johnson, the Executive Director of Outside In, is that many of the people who sleep there in "Camp 13" are youth experiencing homelessness and use the services that Outside In provides.
Outside In recognizes that everyone who walks through their doors have unique experiences rooted in and affected by race, culture, gender and gender identity, age, belief systems, social class and income, sexual orientation, physical ability, and other aspects of individual identity. They acknowledge the beauty, strength, and opportunities that come from such diversity as well as the destructive and pervasive consequences that come from prejudice and oppression.
Outside In was founded in 1968 on the Summer Solstice, making them 55 years old this year. They were one of the first free community health clinics in the U.S. and one of the earliest on the West Coast. Their mission is to help homeless youth and other marginalized people move towards improved health and self-sufficiency. Their spaces are welcoming for everyone, affirming of all identities, and committed to meeting people where they are without judgment. Outside In offers wrap around, low-barrier services for their clients, through a harm reduction lens.
Outside In is a federally qualified health center, meaning they're a healthcare home for everyone, regardless of insurance or immigration status, or ability to pay.
When I first came to Outside In, I was struggling with severe mental health issues and suicidality. I was received warmly by all the staff I encountered and my doctor and behavioral health worker helped me realize I wasn’t alone. They got me started on medication, and connected me with the Outside In’s youth department. Through these connections I was able to get into school and graduate as a Certified Medical Assistant, and I started working at Outside In. Now I work as a Panel Manager helping our most vulnerable population, giving back to the community that I was once a part of.
Rei is just one of so many Outside In success stories. Please help us keep their work going to change the lives and futures of the next generation. And thanks to Thanks the Ed Cauduro Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, all donations up to the first $10,000 will be matched!
Go to Outsidein.org and click “Donate” in the upper right-hand corner to double your impact today