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Connecting high-risk individuals to the right services: Meet Portia

Memphis Allies is increasing services to individuals at highest-risk for involvement in gun violence. Every day, Portia talks to youth, families and young adults, helping them connect to the right program and services.

Nine years ago, Portia started her career with Youth Villages as a foster care specialist and then became a trainer/recruiter. Last year, she took a position in Youth Villages’ community violence intervention initiative, Memphis Allies.

Portia is a placement manager for Memphis Allies SWITCH – Support With Intention To Create Hope – and SWITCH Youth programs that help 12 – to 35-year-olds who are at the highest risk of gun violence.

“It was fulfilling to see Youth Villages open its doors to this population,” Portia said. “Gun violence is something we are facing in our city, so for us to be able to offer services to help those at highest risk of involvement is awesome.”

Even though Portia does not have the same lived experience as many of Memphis Allies staff, she did not have both parents in the house growing up. She says by having a parent in and out of jail she still understands many of the people in our care may have similar experiences growing up in violent communities.

Anything you can to do reduce gun violence and make the city and community safer, do it.

– Portia

When hearing about the initiative, Portia knew she wanted to be a part of the team. A Memphis native herself, she found herself wanting to be a part of something impactful in the community.

“It struck me because I love Memphis,” Portia said. “This is home for me.”

As a placement manager, Portia oversees and maintains the census from each region served by Memphis Allies SWITCH — Raleigh/Frayser and Orange Mound — and SWITCH Youth, which is offered throughout the city. She interviews youth and adults to see if they fit criteria for any other Youth Villages programs like LifeSet, Intercept and MST.

Portia urges anyone who wants to see a better community and be a part of the change to make a career move to Memphis Allies.

“Anything you can to do reduce gun violence and make the city and community safer, do it,” Portia said.

If you are interested in being a part of Memphis Allies, please visit to start making an impact today.