What it’s all about
“Nobody listens to me.” “Isn’t there someplace where I’ll feel safe?” “I wish there was a place I could hang out with my friends where there are people who don’t judge me, but understand me and maybe even like me.”
Youth say these kinds of things to themselves all the time, and Lost & Found was begun 16 years ago to give them good answers. The staff and volunteers of work to support, encourage and equip young people to find the answers they need and make choices that lead to good things.
Youth are the priority at Lost & Found. Whether they struggle with family issues, friends, depression, school, drugs & alcohol, or just hard life situations, Lost & Found is ready to walk beside them. We understand how someone can feel lonely, disappointed and just plain hurt… a lot. We also know the power of healthy relationship and encouragement. And the kids might just learn something important while they’re having fun!
We hear questions about what kind of kids participate and are considered “lost and found.” There is no one designation describing the youth we serve, except that they’re between the ages of 12 and 18! Other than that, they come from literally all segments of our community, so here’s how we define ‘lost’ and ‘found’:
Lost adj \ˈlȯst\
- obscured or overlooked
- lacking assurance or self-confidence
- not appreciated or understood
- not made use of, won, or claimed; squandered
- forfeited, alienated
Found v \ found \
- to discover, perceive, or regain
- to come upon by searching, as in recovering a lost treasure
- to realize one’s potential
- to establish or to ground; to fix firmly
- to begin and build
That pretty much describes what Lost & Found is and our mission!
Lost & Founds plans group activities in various places around town each week. When school is in session we have lunch with the youth at the middle school and high school once a week. There are service projects, tutoring, and open gym time, and sometimes we go to dinner or a movie or even on an overnight adventure like river rafting!
It doesn’t cost anything to participate with Lost & Found. Kids can come to any of the groups or activities offered at any time anywhere in town. It’s always participation by choice, meaning that kids choose to be at Lost & Found activities, groups and events. No one makes them come. The only thing we ask is that youth follow simple rules: 1) Show respect for everyone in the group in your words and actions; 2) Confidentiality… personal things that are shared in group stay in group (unless said by an adult); 3) No cross talk. Only one conversation at a time; 4) Check the drama at the door. And if they want to go on outings with Lost & Found, we need a liability waiver signed by a parent or guardian. Click here for a Liability Waiver form.
That’s it! We hope kids come hang out with us and check us out… and bring a friend too if they want. Today could be the day that things start to change!
I’m between the ages of 12 and 18…
We’re thinking that if the person reading this is trying to decide if they want to check out Lost & Found, they probably have a lot of questions. Maybe this will help you decide…
How will I know when things are happening?
We publish a calendar each month so you can just easily check it out to see where you should go and when. Click here for the most recent calendar. You can always check out our Facebook page to find out what’s next too. Or, you can call 541.276.3987 or 503.302.9258 to get details and request to enter our closed FB group for live action updates and changes.
Will I have to do things?
Not usually. For instance, on Thursdays at the Rec Center there will be games happening. You can choose to play or just hang out on the side. If there is a discussion, talking in group is not required but you can share what you’re comfortable with. There will be some rules that everyone must follow just for safety, but most things you can participate in by choice… or not.
What are “service projects”?
These are opportunities to serve our community in different ways. Most require at least a little effort, but nothing is too strenuous! Sometimes after the work is done, everyone who participated is rewarded with dinner and a movie or a treat! And it’s a great feeling to know that we’ve accomplished something important.
What kinds of special trips could I go on?
We get the chance to do some pretty awesome stuff, from river rafting to skiing, from movies to paintball. These special activities generally take place once a month, so watch the calendar! To earn the privilege of going you usually need to have attended group, do a service project, make sure we have a signed Liability Waiver on file, and give the group leader a paper copy of your grades (during the school year). For some trips there may be different requirements, but you’ll know what they are far in advance. We want everyone to be able to qualify to go on these trips!
This sounds like something I’d like to help with.
What could be better than helping youth be successful? Lost & Found is always in need of volunteers to do just that! If you’re 18 or older there are many ways to be involved as much or as little as your schedule allows. There are also internship possibilities and even some paid positions available.
What is the time commitment?
It varies depending on your availability and the planned events, but an average is once or twice a week for 2 hours. If you’re interested in some of the larger activities and trips the time commitment would change accordingly… but so would your opportunity to build deeper relationships and have a bigger impact with the youth!
Is there an application?
Yes. We would love to meet you and give you one to fill out and return! All staff members and volunteers must also have a background check performed for the safety of both the volunteer and the youth.
What would I be doing?
Lost & Found has to be adaptable to meet the continually changing needs of the youth we serve, but these are the areas in which we most consistently need help.
- Extreme Mentors: These are adults who have already committed to living a clean and sober lifestyle. Because we encourage the youth to choose to be substance free and make healthy choices, if the youth see us around town away from Lost & Found activities we want our actions and choices to model what we’re advocating for them. Lost & Found prefers all volunteers to be extreme mentors.
- Activity Leaders: This is a commitment to coordinate activities such as open gym, life skills groups or big adventures such as kayaking. Do you have a hobby or skill you would like to share? This is the place for that! We would work with you to plan your special activity to have the biggest and best impact for the kids.
- Group Co-Facilitator: All groups must have two adults present. The “second” provides an extra set of eyes, ears and hands to bring the group together or help with activities. This could be a commitment of 1 to 4 hours per week, depending on what works best for you. The hours of need are generally between 3 to 5pm throughout the week.
- Drivers: We need people who are good at driving and are not easily distracted by a load of kids! If you have a large vehicle/van, that is a bonus but not necessary. (We do reimburse mileage when using private vehicles!)
- Behind the scenes: There are a variety of other places to serve the youth. We’ve got equipment that needs attention. We sometimes need ‘camp hosts’ and cooks, and shoppers and people who really like doing the physical games the kids like to play ☺. Talk to us… there is a place for you!
How would I know what to do?
Lost & Found provides periodic training for volunteers as a group, and also does pre-group briefing. The director would also expect to spend a little one-on-one time with you just to make sure you’re comfortable and know what you need to know!
What if I have more money than time to contribute?
That is welcome too! Lost & Founds operates under an IRS 501c3 nonprofit status. The entire program is only possible through grants, in-kind contributions of space and/or goods, and general community support. Continuing pledged donations may easily be made through the United Way of Umatilla and Morrow Counties in the name of Lost & Found Youth Outreach. Contributions may also be mailed to our office at 200 SE Hailey Ave, Suite 102, Pendleton, OR 97801. Contributions from local individuals, service groups, businesses, agencies and churches are crucial and make it easier to obtain grants that keep the program in action.
Please contact us any time to get more information!