November 3, 2021

As public servants, Multnomah County juvenile court counselors work on the frontlines of community safety, walking alongside parents, partners and youth during difficult times. Working amid such adversity can make remaining hopeful particularly challenging.

But for more than 30 years, Canh Nguyen has done just that while serving youth involved in the justice system, as well as their families. Despite tremendous pressures and obstacles — from his clients' behavioral health and well-being, to job transitions, to dealing with a once-in-a-century pandemic — Nguyen has persisted with a sense of optimism and hope. His approach earned him the honor of being named the Metro Region's Juvenile Justice Professional of the Year. He joins just a handful of other professionals across the state recognized by the Oregon Juvenile Department Directors’ Association.

It’s an honor he humbly accepts, but not without making sure that his team is also recognized. As a member of the RISE (Resource Intervention Services to Empower) team, Nguyen and his colleagues work in the field with community partners like Latino Network and POIC + Rosemary Anderson High School, connecting youth and families to behavioral health and other resources. 

Juvenile Court Counselor Canh Nguyen receives Metro Region's Juvenile Justice Professional of the Year Award. It’s an honor he humbly accepts, but not without making sure that his team is also recognized.

They play a vital role in community safety.  

“It takes a lot of work, and I think it takes a whole village, to really raise a kid and to really work together to make things better and be persistent,'' said Nguyen. “There will be challenges, but persistence, patience, trust and having a common goal are key. It’s not only you or me, or this community over here, or this community over there — it’s all of us together and I think we need to have that mindset in order to work through things.”

One of the most important roles he fills, especially during a relentlessly trying time, is to impart hope. While there may be setbacks, there are also equal, if not more rewarding, successes. 

“The work that Juvenile Court Counselors do day-in and day-out, we need to have that component of hope because at the end of the day, there’s so many issues going on,” said Nguyen. “When I reflect on what we’ve been through — the pandemic, the fires and all of these crazy things going on — and then receiving this award, it just feels different. 

But I’m very honored and grateful for the recognition and humbled.”

Watch more in his own words. And watch till the end for a chuckle: