Every Wednesday for the past two years, [N. Scrantz] Lersch, a trained artist, has come to p:ear to draw for and teach art to the young adults who go there.
“I just come in and start drawing,” Lersch said. “I’m trying to give them a voice.”
P:ear, now in its ninth year, offers mentoring, meals, a library, art supplies, the use of phones and computers to youth ages 15 to 24. The art they create is displayed and sold out of a studio inside p:ear that is open to the public on First Thursday. P:ear also provides a housing program and a barista-training program, which teaches the young people the business of serving coffee.
Pippa Arend, spokeswoman for p:ear, said the center is different from most other homeless service centers in Portland.
“P:ear is outside of the continuum of homeless services; we work privately,” Arend said. “A lot of the people who can’t or won’t access services can come here.”
Arend said Lersch is a valuable volunteer because of how she can connect with the youth through her portraits of them.
“Where Scrantz comes in, she’s an artist, and art is one of our main tools that we use,” Arend said. “Doing art with someone creates a common bond with some people. It’s a way to get positive attention, it’s a way to feel nurtured.”