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; Lost & Found began nearly 18 years ago to give them good answers to these tough questions. The staff and volunteers 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. 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 & Found does a lot of fun things with our youth – games, service projects, tutoring, open gym time, occasional dinner/movies and even over night adventures like camping and white water rafting. However, all those things pale in comparison to our main bread and butter – groups. Our groups meet weekly at different places in town and are the lifeblood of Lost & Found.
In Lost & Founds long history, groups have always been the most important thing that we do. Our first thought is always to go where the kids are and reach them where they are at – we come to them on their time and on their turf. Currently we have groups at the Rec Center, May Park, The Saddle Restaurant and on the Reservation. We also have a weekly online gaming group for the gamers of Lost & Found.
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 these simple rules:
1) Respect: 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 (everyone’s favorite rule).
And if they want to go on outings with Lost & Found, we need a liability waiver signed by a parent or guardian. Come to group and ask for one!
That’s it! We hope you’ll come and check us out… and bring a friend too. 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?
Right now, we have Saddle group every Tuesday from 3-5pm, May Park group every Wednesday from 3-6pm, and Rec Center group every Thursday from 3-6pm, with new group possibilities always on the horizon. We also have an online gaming group that meets virtually when everyone is online at the same time! You can request to enter our closed Facebook group where we post everything we do and even pictures from groups and events.You can also call our office (541) 276-3987 if you have any questions.
Will I have to do things?
Not if you don’t want to! 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 and questions are always welcomed. There will be some rules that everyone must follow just for safety (even the adults), but most things you can participate in by choice!
What are “service learning projects”?
Service projects 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. Some of the coolest service projects we’ve done are painting over graffiti at May Park, picking up trash on the banks of the Umatilla River, and even some work at Blue Mountain Wildlife and Bird Rescue – they even gave us a tour after.
What kinds of special trips could I go on?
We get the chance to do some really awesome stuff, from white water river rafting to skiing/snowboarding, from movies to bumper balls. These special activities generally take place once every few months, so be sure to check the Facebook page or come to group to find out what’s happening! To earn the privilege of going, you usually need to have attended group, have helped out in at least one service project, and make sure we have a signed Liability Waiver on file for you. 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 healthy 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.
What is the time commitment?
It varies depending on your availability and the planned events/groups, 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 and take the Boy Scouts of America safety training 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 (the second): 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 6pm 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!