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Sierra Phillipsjohnny


Johnny Ohta is a Homeless Youth Chemical Dependency Professional with Ryther, working with homeless and at-risk youth and young adults who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. Johnny’s style is unique: He meets them where they are and not only works to help them understand complete abstinence, but also works to educate them on harm reduction and help guide them in their journey. Johnny understands that some people are not always ready for sobriety so he starts by educating them on how to reduce the effects of using. It matters because these youth and young adults need someone that can be their support. They generally do not have anyone else and it’s important that they have someone they can truly trust and rely on. Sometimes Johnny and other service providers are the only supports these youth and young adults have.

As a someone who has struggled with addiction, as well as someone doing direct service work, I have had the opportunity to work with Johnny on many different levels. I first started working with Johnny in early 2014 asking for his help with getting sober. I was in and out of sobriety but had started using again, and Johnny always met me where I was at. Throughout this time, we built a friendship as I continued my sobriety and built a community within the world of recovery. We attend some of the same meetings and I know that I can call on Johnny at any point and he will always do his best to support me.

In recent months, I have also built a fellow relationship as a service provider myself. Johnny inspired me to want to do the work I do today. I not only work at Mockingbird but I also work at a local shelter. Johnny’s simple acts of being willing to meet me where I was inspired me to do what I do today.

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.