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Serving Up A Brighter Future

Serving up a brighter future

PSU and New Avenues for Youth bring Ben & Jerry's to campus

Two years ago, Charlyn Neal was living in a makeshift hut in the woods. Today, she's a 21 year-old mother with her own apartment and the assistant manager of the new Ben & Jerry's shop at PSU.

She had left LA in search of a better life and ended up homeless in Portland. Then she found out that she was pregnant, and Charlyn began what she calls her "comeback." She learned about New Avenues for Youth, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless youth get off the streets, get a job, and get their lives back together. They took her in, fed her, and provided her with a place to sleep.

"The next thing I knew, I was interviewing for their Ben & Jerry's shop."

She was hired as a scooper, promoted to shift leader, and when asked to be the assistant manager of the new location, Charlyn was surprised, but said, "Heck ya! I'll do it."

She can already see the impact of working in a higher education environment. "Being on this campus makes everyone here think about college. It's already doing its magic."

When asked what advice she'd give to other homeless youth, she said: "I tell people that you can do it too. I'm not a super special person."

PSU's School of Social Work is located right next to the new ice cream shop and is working with New Avenues for Youth to develop graduate internships, a work study mentor program, and scholarships for the youth.

» New Avenues for Youth
» PSU School of Social Work