Central City Concern

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

How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes - It's a Wrap!

Mar 05, 2015

Throughout the month of February, Portland Playhouse’s groundbreaking and innovative production of How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes gave the community an opportunity to learn about and actively engage with the realities of poverty in Multnomah County. At the end of each performance, the audience was given a chance to choose where to direct $1,000 cash in an effort to push back on the effects of poverty in our community.

In addition to the two Central City Concern staff members who were asked to lend their expertise and insights during interactive segments of two showings, a number of other staff members had the opportunity to attend the production as regular show goers.

We asked several folks who attended for their thoughts about the play. Impressed with the overall production, attending individuals added:

“They were creative in the way that they presented info – there were readings, acting, musical performances, cool props, visual effects, and even money used as a prop!” said Barbara Martin, CCC’s Director of Primary Care.

Gary Cobb, CCC’s Community Outreach Coordinator, added, “I felt the actors, actresses, and production staff did their research on poverty. It really showed.”

As good theatre is bound to do, the content and execution of the play elicited strong personal reactions from the audience members.

“The play sparked not only anger and frustration concerning the financial struggles faced by so many people in our society, but also the lack of understanding by some who believe that if you work hard enough you can achieve financial stability,” shared Kim Seiffert, a case manager at our Community Engagement Program. “This lack of understanding plays a big part in the type and amount of resources that are available.”

Said another staff member, “Seeing the statistics about poverty and the everyday complications that arise from living it brought to life through the vignettes throughout the play was powerful to take in. It made poverty more understandable and relatable to an extent. There are stories behind those numbers and percentages. It was maddening, heartbreaking even.”

CCC audience members especially valued the ways in which How to End Poverty was a tool to erase the silence around poverty and provide a starting point for dialogue.

“The play sparked a great discussion between my guest and myself and we ended up being the last people to leave the theatre because a couple of the actors from the play came to join our discussion,” Kim said. She continued, “I do hope that at least a few people in the audience were able to gain a better perspective of the problems because as we all know, change can begin with only a few determined people.”

Barbara said she saw the play as “an opportunity to engage in a conversation about poverty as well as our assumptions, ideas, and backgrounds and how that affects the viewpoint we all have. We also got to meet and talk to people we didn’t know, including some others in social services around Portland, and hear about other ideas that are out there.”

How to End Poverty billed itself as not just a play, or lecture, or workshop, or theatre piece, or public conversation. As CCC staff members saw firsthand, How to End Poverty was, indeed, all of these things. And above all, it was an opportunity to learn together, to be challenged together, to talk together, and for a night, to act together. 

Black History Month Series: Addressing Housing Needs

Feb 27, 2015

On any given night, nearly 3,000 people in Multnomah County—including parents with children—are grappling with homelessness. They are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. They may be sleeping under bridges or in cars. They may be staying with friends or in emergency shelters.

The causes of homelessness are complex. Untreated mental illness, substance abuse, chronic illness, physical disability, domestic violence, and job loss usually play a role. Inadequate access to health care, cuts to social services, and an increasingly tight rental market make matters worse for people who can’t or won’t turn to friends and family for help.

The situation is especially dire for families and people of color who are newly in recovery from addiction and want to live in a housing environment that supports their recovery process. Currently, many families must wait a full year before receiving a referral for affordable housing that includes critically important on-site support services. Very few organizations provide culturally specific services for people of color, an historically underserved part of our community.

In July, Central City Concern and Miracles Club will break ground on new construction of a 47-unit apartment building for individuals and families. The building will be located in a Northeast Portland neighborhood that was home to many African Americans in the 1950s and 60s; services will include culturally-specific peer mentoring. Guardian Real Estate Services is overseeing project development and building completion is expected in Fall 2016.

The $12.7 million project has received strong support from the Portland Housing Bureau as well as private funders. Central City Concern continues to engage in fundraising efforts to fill a gap of roughly $350,000 on this project. The agency is also working to raise another $200,000 to build additional units of affordable family housing over the next two years.

Monthly Volunteer Spotlight: February Edition

Feb 26, 2015

Each month, we’re profiling an exceptional individual who has given her or his time to volunteer at Central City Concern. Today, meet Angela, who has been one of the most upbeat, positive volunteers CCC has ever had!

Name: Angela C.

Position: Old Town Clinic Concierge. Duties include making patients feel welcome as they enter the Clinic, asking if they need any help, directing patients to the correct check-in location or Clinic space.

What drew you to CCC and this volunteer opportunity?
I’m in a recovery program myself. I’m six years clean now. I found volunteering here to be in support of my own program. It helped me to serve other people to support my own sobriety.

What did you expect out of this volunteer role before your first day?
I got what I expected – a lot of patients who were very warm and kind to me and I could be warm and kind to.

What lessons or impressions are you walking away with from volunteering?
My heart has opened up more to people here. The people who receive services here are very generous and kind with their spirit. People are really grateful for any help I give them – even things like telling them the pharmacy hours or where the bathroom is.

What would you tell someone who is new to your position about CCC or the volunteer role?
Be prepared to smile at people. Acknowledge everyone's humanness. Just smiling and making eye contact is extremely beneficial and makes everyone feel human who walks through the front door.

• • •

Angela always brought a big smile, a shining attitude, and genuine compassion into the Old Town Clinic. Thank you, Angela, for all the time you spent with our patients!

If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, contact 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 »

We Are Family 2015

Join us on May 6 at We Are Family 2015 to benefit Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs. Sharon Wood Wortman, Portland's "Bridge Lady," will join us as our featured speaker. Learn more »

Central City Coffee

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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