Pancake Day – Sat., Nov. 17th from 11 to 1


Eden Pictures, from Flickr

Photo by EdenPictures, Flickr

This Saturday from 11 to 1 at Swapnplay, 7535 N. Chicago, St. Johns Village Project invites teen parents from North Portland high schools to eat pancakes and get to know other NoPo families.

If you want to attend, volunteer, or get involved, please contact Amy, amy [at] st. Register for Pancake Day at



Coping with Stress during the Winter Months

Parenting is stressful no matter who you are. Being a parent means giving, giving, giving — love, attention, resources,

By joeytklein, Flickr.

time. It’s very easy to forget to take care of yourself.

During the holidays, stress can get worse. It’s surprising — “the happiest time of the year” is not always happy.

Seeing family and friends can make you unhappy if they aren’t kind to you. Buying your children Christmas gifts is hard if you don’t have much money.  The sun — which helps us stay in a good mood — goes away, and the dark, rainy days can be depressing, day after day.

How can you cope with stress during the winter months?

  • Keep a journal or diary. Take notes each day about what caused you stress, how you felt, how you acted when you were stressed out, and what you did to make yourself feel better.
  • Identify the situations or people that stress you out, then avoid them (or accept them!) if you can.
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol & sweets — which make your life more difficult in the long-term.
  • Get sleep and exercise. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you get enough sleep and make a regular time to walk, run, dance, or do yoga!

Your stress affects your child. Your child is learning from you every day. If you respond to your child, another person, or a situation using a sharp tone or even violence, your child will learn to do the same. But if you learn to cope with stress in good ways, they will learn that too.

Read more in the St. Johns Village Project November 2012 newsletter.

St. Johns Farmers Market supports NoPo young moms

This fall, a group of young moms from POIC’s Rosemary Anderson High School and POIC’s Transitions Program have gotten a taste of the local farmers market.

SJFM has a community partners program, chaired by Nancy Harkrider, that’s reached out to the young parents of Rosemary Anderson High School and Pathfinder Academy. Nancy and others have organized:

  • a field trip to a farm on Sauvey Island
  • a tour of the market
  • a cooking class hosted by Village Market at New Columbia, and
  • an applesauce class offered through the local North Portland Preserve & Serve, and hosted by Swapnplay.

The wildly successful events have drawn altogether a dozen or so young parents and their children, and have been tasty, fun, and educational.

Working with young parents gives the community partners program a chance to influence three generations at once — the young parents and their kids, as well as potentially the “major” parents — and if healthy habits stick, future generations, too.

St. Johns Farmers Market is an independent farmers market (not part of the markets that operates the downtown or North Portland markets) with a board mainly of St. Johns residents.

I really hope the partnership continues and grows! I’d really love to see a community garden that young parents and their kids can work on together.

By Amy Potthast Posted in News

St. Johns Farmers Market reaches out to young parents

Coming soon! St. Johns Farmers Market is looking to partner with us and North Portland high schools to bring young parents and their kids to the farmers market, and to get involved with eating fresh, local & tasty produce.


Check back soon for more info! We hope to get some joint activities together in September and October, before the Market wraps up for the winter.

Teens “with child” in Clackamas Co. find help + unconditional love at Madonna’s Center

Today I had the great honor of driving to Milwaukie to meet with Valerie Aschbacher, the Board President of Madonna’s Center.

Madonna’s Center is a nonprofit devoted to meeting the essential needs of Clackamas County teen parents and their children (up to age 5).

Valerie sat with me for two hours to chat about the history and ambitions of the organization and its varied service to the courageous youth who have chosen to have, keep, and raise their infants.

Their offices are two rooms in a business center — one room looks like an office with desks, computers, and a conference table. The other room is home base for the twice weekly Visitation Volunteers who respond to the services and supplies requests of teen parents. Everything from diapers and diaper rash cream to parenting books and baby blankets.

Valerie said when the organization started (in the 2004-2005 time frame; it’s official launch was Sept. 8, 2005) everything was run out of people’s homes, garages, basements. “That’s how we’re doing it!” I said. I was so inspired to see how the organization had grown.

While I was visiting, I overheard Valerie chatting with a teen parent who called in to ask for help potty training her toddler. “We do have books on potty training, and we also know that 14-months  is too early to begin potty training.”

I loved Valerie’s confident and reassuring tone, and if I loved it, I can only imagine how fabulous the teen mom felt on the other end of the line. Valerie offered to meet the young mom at Payless to buy boots with her. When I left, Valerie was waiting to hear from another young mom who needed a ride to college.

Friday, March 16, from 1-3 pm, Madonna’s Center is holding a free teen parent resource fair in Milwaukie. You can see more info and RSVP here!

And I invited Valerie to our upcoming playgroups, so maybe in April or May you will meet her in person!

Upcoming playgroups — will you join in the fun?

From Flickr's Magderly

Recently Meghann Darne at Rosemary Anderson High School and I have determined the spring schedule for playgroups. We hope you can join us.

Whether you’re an adult or teen parent, please RSVP by emailing me at amy [at] and I will send you more details! Your little ones are welcome and we’ll have snacks for all.

We’ll meet at Swapnplay, at the side entrance of the Red Sea Church. The address of the Red Sea Church is 7535 N. Chicago, but the Swapnplay entrance is around to the right side — on N. Leonard.

The spring playgroups will take place from 10:30 to 11:30 am on the following Saturday mornings:

  • Feb. 25
  • March 17
  • April 21
  • May 19

Won’t you join in the fun?


18 or under? Need health insurance? Try Healthy Kids

Oregon kids without health insurance are eligible for Healthy Kids — an expansion of the Oregon Health Plan.

Depending on your family’s income and size, you can get free, low-cost or full-cost insurance for your children or for yourself if you are a teen. Eligible minors have been uninsured for two months or more, and are legal U.S. residents.

What benefits does Healthy Kids offer?

  • Income-based health insurance option for people 18 and under
  • Medical, dental, and vision care
  • Prescriptions and medical equipment
  • Mental health and chemical dependency
  • Regular checkups and preventative care

Take the first step

Get help with your Healthy Kids application at the African American Health Coalition — regardless of your race.

Please tell them Amy at St. Johns Village Project sent you, and the Project will get a $25 donation.

Rosemary Anderson High School is Looking for Mentors

Adult moms reach out to young moms through Rosemary Anderson High School’s community mentoring program. 

In addition to building a playgroup, St. Johns Village Project is now turning its attention to building one-on-one relationships between adult moms and young moms through RAHS’s mentoring program.

Rosemary Anderson is a vibrant alternative high school operated by the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center in North Portland.

After an application, background check, orientation and training, mentors get together for an hour a week with their mentees, building strong friendships while modeling problem-solving and other life skills. RAHS offers mentor/mentee pairs with discounts to area coffee shops, monthly field trips, and other help. Pairs can meet at the high school or elsewhere, during and outside of school hours.

Want to learn more? Email Gonzalo Calderon at RAHS for details and to schedule an orientation.

By Amy Potthast Posted in News

Halloween Party Hit!

Almost 50 Halloween costumes for kids to choose from!Today we celebrated Halloween and the launch of the St. Johns Village Project. Lots of teen & adult parents. Partners Kim Filla, Ayla, and Megan from Rosemary Anderson High School; and Crystal from Pathfinder came. We had over 20 little tykes too!!

Check out our Halloween costumes and pumpkin giveaway — photos by Rebecca Mair Lowery.


Why Participate in the St. Johns Village Project?

If you are a teen parent — or work with teen parents — you may wonder what the St. Johns Village Project has to offer.  We hope to develop strong friendships and a community of social and material support for all participating families. Specifically:

Friendships and learning together

  • We want to validate parenting successes among the teen parents.
  • We hope each playgroup will have some kind of breakfast with juice and coffee.
  • We want to learn together how to help all our kids get developmental assets — the building blocks for success — by chatting and sharing ideas with each other.


  • When a teen parent attends the playgroup four times, she will get to pick a gift out of a basket — for example, a coupon for a free family portrait, Mudeye Puppet show tickets, a coupon for a free coffee from Peet’s, or a coupon for a free haircut. After four more visits, she’ll get to choose again.
  • Occasionally as we’re able we’ll have raffles for larger prizes or prizes that must be used immediately.
  • Monthly, we’ll bring out kids’s clothes that have been donated for teen parents to bring home a bundle.

Succeeding in school

  • We are committed to helping teen parents meet the community service requirement for high school graduation.
  • We want teen parents to succeed in school, life, and parenting — and are here to help teen parents access what they need to do so.

Support for teen dads

We recognize that the playgroup may or may not meet the needs of teen dads and are committed to finding ways that do, for example, hosting monthly Dads BBQs, and creating a Dads garden plot at the St. Johns Community Garden.

Please check us out! Contact Amy, or text SJVP to 503-893-8941.

By Amy Potthast Posted in About