Portland Teens Discovering Oregon Partnership’s YouthLine

More high school students throughout the Portland area are discovering that there’s an easy way to talk about what’s bothering them and get some ideas about what to do next.

Welcome to YouthLine, 877-553-TEEN, a free and confidential teen-to-teen counseling, crisis and referral line.

YouthLine is operated by student volunteers and sponsored by Oregon Partnership, a non-profit organization that runs several other help lines supported by state and federal funding and private donations.

“Sometimes the people who call us are having trouble with a best friend or a boyfriend or a parent problem,” says Katie Rosenstein-Houston, 17, a YouthLine volunteer for the past two years and recent graduate of Aloha High School.  “But often the issues have to do with drugs and depression.”

If you’re a high school student, remember this: YouthLine is strictly a help line with nobody trying to sell you, convert you or control you. The whole idea is to talk about what’s on your mind, and get some feedback from people your age who are there to listen and to help.

Since its inception seven years ago, YouthLine has answered some 3,000 calls from teens and concerned friends and family members across Oregon.

And for those who volunteer on Youthline, the experience is positive and rewarding.  Experienced staff at Oregon Partnership offers 40 hours of training, after which participants are ready to join what has been often described as the YouthLine family.

“Nowhere else have I witnessed teenagers to be as mindful and respectful of other people’s beliefs and differences,” said Scott Kibler, 17, a YouthLine volunteer and a senior at Lakeridge High School.  “Awkward topics such as substance abuse, depression, suicide, and dating are all handled with amazing respect  by this group of teenagers.”

Volunteers answer the line Monday through Friday from 4-10 p.m., and adults who answer Oregon Partnership’s Alcohol and Drug HelpLine and the Suicide LifeLine answer Youthline during all other hours, making it available 24/7.

If callers are from outside the Portland metropolitan area, YouthLine’s volunteers offer referrals to resources in the caller’s area of the state.

Over the years, students and parents have credited Youthline for making lives better.  And it all starts with talking things through.

“YouthLine’s goal is to help teenagers be safe and reduce stress by avoiding and dealing with tricky situations,” says Kibler. “In this way, YouthLine is like almost no other place I have come across. Everyone here supports its mission as a lifestyle, not just a weekly volunteer shift.”

“It’s beneficial for both the people who call us and those of us who are part of the YouthLine family,” adds Rosenstein-Houston.

If you think you might want to volunteer, just e-mail Timothy Kelly, the YouthLine coordinator at tkelly@orpartnership.org. or call Timothy at 877-553-TEEN.  There’s also the Oregon Partnership website at www.orpartnership.org.

And check out the YouthLine MySpace page at  http://www.myspace.com/oregonyouthline.


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