Central City Concern

Providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness
and achieving self-sufficiency.

Monthly Volunteer Spotlight: July Edition (Part 2)

Jul 30, 2015

We’re back to close out July with a second Monthly Volunteer Spotlight! (Catch the first July Spotlight here if you haven't yet.) Meet Bec, who has volunteered at Central City Concern’s Old Town Clinic for nearly two-and-a-half years. We sat down with Bec to talk about her experience volunteering and the lessons she’ll walk away with as she winds down her time with us to pursue further professional and educational opportunities.

• • •

Name: Bec Lazan

Position: Old Town Clinic Referral volunteer. The referral team at OTC processes referrals for clinic patients, coordinates specialty appointments and medical referrals for patients, and even assist patients in acquiring medical equipment when a provider deems it necessary for the patient.

What are your volunteer duties?
I mostly sent referrals to outside clinics and followed up with the clinics to see if patients had gone to their post-referral appointments.

I also called our clinic patients to let them know that their OTC provider had put in a referral and that they should be hearing from the referred clinic. I got a chance to be a part of most aspects of the referral process, basically creating a circle so that everyone knew what was going on with patients.

What drew you to volunteer at Central City Concern?
I was interested in medical volunteering in some sort of medical environment. I looked online and found Central City Concern, and a friend who has a degree in public health also mentioned that CCC was a great organization.

What did you expect when you first started volunteering?
I was hoping to be spending my time at an organization that was doing really good things in the community – an organization that did it with respect for the people they were serving as well as for its employees. And I feel like I found that here at CCC.

What parts of your volunteer role did you particularly enjoy?
The entire referral team – Becky and Linda, and later on Mandy and Joel – were all really awesome, helpful, and supportive.

And seeing how everyone interacted was nice: from how the referral coordinators knew their patients and developed a relationship with them, to the Clinic’s team-based model.

What will you remember most about your time here?
Talking with the patients and letting them know about their referrals. A lot of our patients had been waiting for these referrals for a long time. The process isn’t always so easy because insurance can be frustrating and sometimes the clinics are booked way out in advance, so just letting them know that they had an appointment coming up was a relief for them and I felt nice to be a part of that.

And just reaching out to this population of individuals who are typically not served very well by systems or have fallen through the cracks. To be part of the simple act of letting people know that they’re being taken care of is rewarding enough. To let them know that there’s a chain of people making sure they’re being cared for.

What did you learn, or what surprised you, during your stint?
I think it’s safe to say that I had some preconceived notions about CCC’s patient population before I started. It’s really nice that the clinic serves a varied population as far as backgrounds go, and I got to know more about that.

I also remember thinking, when looking at a call I needed to make on paper, “this is going to be a tough call.” But the person on the other end of the line ended up being totally lovely.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m thinking of applying to medical school. It was so nice to interact with everyone and see how this clinic functioned. There were doctors and physician assistants who allowed me to shadow them, which was really influential.

What would you tell someone who was on the fence about volunteering?
Well, specifically at the Old Town Clinic, the people who work at OTC are there because they really want to be there. They’re passionate about what they’re doing, so you’re going to meet nice, passionate people.

If you’re interested in any sort of medical work or working with a certain population, you’re going to meet and work with people who are experienced and excited about their job.

• • •

Bec’s work with our Old Town Clinic referral team has been indispensable over the last two years, and we are very grateful for the dedication and willingness she has shown since day one. Thanks for everything, Bec!

If you are interested in learning more about ways to volunteer at Central City Concern’s healthcare, housing, or employment programs, contact Eric Reynolds, CCC’s Volunteer Coordinator, at eric.reynolds@ccconcern.org.

EAC Celebrates Clients, Honors Employer of the Year

Jul 23, 2015

Central City Concern has always had great fondness for Floyd's Coffee in the Old Town neighborhood. For many staff members, it’s an ad hoc office and place for quick meetings. For our Employment Specialists at our Employment Access Center, it’s the go-to spot to hold mock interviews with the people we serve to better prepare them for employment.

And when we asked Floyd’s co-owner Cris Chapman (right) if she might be interested in hiring some of our clients, not only did she say yes but she proceeded to create three unique, part-time jobs for some of our clients who needed an extra level of flexibility.

So for all of us who know Cris and co-owner Jack Inglis, it was no surprise that Floyd’s Coffee was selected as our first-ever Employer of the Year, recognized for their extraordinary contributions in helping individuals attain self-sufficiency. This recognition was made on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at Portland City Hall at our annual Employment Access Center celebration where we honored more than 30 clients for exemplary achievements in attaining and retaining employment with more than 150 well wishers in the audience!

The event was a great night to celebrate people reaching their higher potential! Congratulations to all the clients whose hard work and commitment to obtaining employment was honored, as well as their families and friends. We also thank Mayor Charlie Hales for sharing City Hall, George Hocker for representing Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, and Patrick Gihring from Worksystems, Inc. for joining us and sharing their thoughts from the podium.

Monthly Volunteer Spotlight: July Edition (Part 1)

Jul 10, 2015

Our Monthly Volunteer Spotlight series thought it could sneak away summer vacation, but because we have so many incredible volunteers, we’re going to bring you two spotlights in July. For the first, meet Noelle, who has been a volunteer with Central City Concern for more than one-and-a-half years. Her time with us is winding down as she heads off to start her Master of Social Work program at Portland State University, but we feel immensely grateful to have worked with her!

• • •

Name: Noelle Al-Musaifry

Position: Arts and crafts group facilitator in CCC's supportive housing program

What are your volunteer duties?
On paper, I’m responsible for putting together an art project during each arts and craft group. I explain what we’re doing and how each participant can get to an end product. I gather up materials, bring them to group, and we have fun.

That’s what I technically do. I think that the most important thing that I do is just being a person who will consistently listen to them and give positive feedback and encouragement. Interacting positively with the participants… I think that’s appreciated.

I really wanted to create an environment where people feel safe enough to take the emotional risks needed to make art. I think that can be difficult for a lot of folks. The participants often say to me “I’m not a creative person” and “I’m not an artist” and “I can’t even draw a straight line” – so I think people need encouragement around that.

What drew you to volunteer at Central City Concern?
I have a family member who was in a situation in which she could possibly have benefited from CCC services. Ultimately it wasn’t the right fit, but in doing research to find an organization that could provide help, I came across Central City Concern. The more I learned about what CCC was doing, I was sold.

I think that CCC is probably one of the cornerstones of Portland that makes me love this city. The mission [to end homelessness and help people achieve self-sufficiency] is important work and I wanted to be some part of it.

What did you expect when you first started volunteering?
Like I said, I knew I wanted to be a part of what CCC was doing in the community. When I approached CCC about volunteering, the skill set I had wasn’t 100% directly correlated to the mission, I don't think. My background is in science, and I did some dance, and a little bit of art, but not that much.

When I started, I think my biggest hope was to create community around the mission and the people being served by it, the people who were working hard to find stability, work on their recovery, things like that. It took a while, but it slowly emerged.

What have you learned during your time volunteering?
I’ve learned a lot more about the particular struggles and journeys of the individuals CCC works with.

I heard from some of the people who have come to the arts and crafts group about the obstacles they were facing to start over and thrive. I saw a lot of the struggles my family member has gone through reflected in the residents and vice versa. Those struggles are a lot more universal than I thought. I didn’t know that would be the case when I started volunteering.

While I volunteered, I also really solidified my decision to pursue work like this. I had been thinking about pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, but I wasn’t sure. It was risky and I had a lot of doubts.

But after seeing up close the importance of this work that needs to be done, I’m not hesitating to jump into it. This is work that needs to be done. I could be better qualified and I could have more to offer by pursuing an MSW.

Is there a particular experience that will stick with you?
I feel like I’ve become invested in the progress (often non-linear!) of some of the folks I’ve worked with. There’s one person in particular I feel like had a big impact on me. He was the first art group participant who showed up consistently. I don’t know what it was, but he was ready to work. Maybe not always ready to talk, but ready to work and create. I think he was bringing that same attitude to his recovery groups, too.

After some amount of time, he decided that I was trustworthy enough to talk with, and I know that can be a difficult decision for people who have endured hardships and trauma. I feel like we got close over the months.

He ended up moving into more permanent housing, and I had the privilege of being a reference for him. He’s working now and progressing in his goals and sobriety.

When you meet someone, you never really know off the bat who they are or how your relationship is going to turn out or unfold, and I feel really grateful to know him. It’s amazing.

What advice would you give to someone apprehensive about volunteering?
There’s a lot to be gained from removing your ego when you walk in to volunteer.

Many people are facing battles that feel Sisyphean, and so, understandably, it might be hard for them to always be happy or polite. And as a volunteer, you might be on the receiving end of that. But if you can check your ego at the door and be kind and empathetic to people anyway, then get in there and be a positive presence. It speaks volumes.

Any parting thoughts on your time with us?
This sounds so cliché, but it has been such an incredibly rewarding experience. I feel like I’ve undergone some real personal growth in understanding issues like addiction and poverty by listening and being present. I’m so grateful.

• • •

Noelle's dedication to showing up and helping our residents engage in creative expression has made a big impact on our community. Thank you, Noelle, for being a part of our work. All of us here are sending you best wishes as you start your MSW program!

 If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at Central City Concern, contact Eric Reynolds, CCC’s Volunteer Coordinator, at eric.reynolds@ccconcern.org

Central City Bed®

Central City Bed® - unfriendly to bed bugs, stackable, easy to clean and reuse. Appearing at national trade shows. Check Central City Bed for details. Learn more »

Volunteer Spotlights

What motivates CCC volunteers? What do they do when they volunteer? Why do they choose to give their time to those we serve? Find out by checking our Monthly Volunteer Spotlight! Learn more »

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Through craft roasting coffee in Portland, OR, Central City Coffee supports the clients and mission of Central City Concern. Available at local retailers and as office coffee! Learn more »
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