While it was prompted in part by bureaucratic necessity, the move segues with a larger societal awareness of queer youth issues like bullying. SMYRC provides counseling and outreach to between 700 and 1,000 local youth on Washington and Multnomah County contracts that total $207,000. For example, it runs the Washington County Pride Project, which runs discussion groups for Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Sherwood teens and families.
Ninety percent of the kids enrolled in SMYRC programs remain or return to school, according to county data, compared to the state's 67 percent graduation rate. SMYRC also runs a beloved drop-in center out of a Cascadia Health building on NE MLK Boulevard.
After SMYRC's executive director stepped down in August 2010, Cascadia wanted to use the building for other projects and it wasn't clear where the youth group would land.
"SMYRC was kind of up in the air. We just raised our hands," says Q Center public relations manager Logan Lynn. "Queer youth need a home and it fits right into our mission, so it was kind of a no brainer. We are the community center for the entire community, but our youth program needed to be beefier."
The merger adds two full-time youth staffers to Q Center's three-person full-time staff. While SMYRC's current home on NE MLK will close, the center will move to a new site (likely also in Northeast) and all of its current programs will continue with the Q Center as its umbrella.
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