PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Standing on the ground floor of a community driven organization, Anna Coghill wears a community driven shirt, made by the company that brought her to this point. On the black shirt is a full, blossomed rose with 6 swords piercing it. There is a sword in each corner, as well.
The shirt is in homage to a tarot card featuring 10 swords. It’s supposed to represent rebirth, something Coghill knows well.
Two years ago, Coghill admits she was in a rough place. She said she was struggling to stay off the street. Then, with her life on the edge, she found New Avenues for Youth, a Portland organization dedicated to ending youth homelessness. Now she’s a general manager of a pop up clothing store set to hit Pioneer Place, starting on Nov. 16 and running until Christmas Eve.
“My life is very stable now,” Coghill said, “and I have a very exciting future in front of me.”
That future includes managing teens and young adults who are — or may become — homeless. Owen Dickson was once on the brink of homelessness. Then he, like Coghill, discovered New Avenues for Youth.
“I went through the program’s job readiness training at new avenues for youth and went on to have an internship at Ben and Jerry’s at the Yamhill location and then I got a job here,” he said, looking back at how he avoided living on the streets for a full-time job with benefits.
Dickson and Coghill’s tales are the success stories New Avenues for Youth hopes for. And now, with the pop-up shop — which features products designed by youths at dfrntpigeon (pronounced: Different Pigeon) and screen-printed at New Avenues Ink — they’re able to support the youth in Portland. The proceeds will help other people in Portland who are struggling.
“We really wanted to capitalize off the creative talents of young people we work with,” said Jessica Elkan, the director of development and communications at New Avenues Youth, “and the PDX Pop-Up was just a great way to get into the different retail space with the dfrntpigeon apparel line.”
By the community, for the community — with some lasting effects for people like Coghill and Dickson.
“It definitely stabilized the situation,” Dickson said of his live when he joined New Avenues, “and now I can pay for the things to stabilize my life and move up.”
You can learn more about New Avenues here.