Central City Concern

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

It's Give!Guide Season!

Nov 07, 2014

As of Wednesday, November 5, the 2014 Willamette Week Give!Guide season is live! This is Central City Concern's second year in a row participating in Give!Guide, and we are more grateful and excited than ever before!

What’s Give!Guide?
Willamette Week’s Give!Guide is an annual print and online publication intended to encourage year-end charitable giving by showcasing local nonprofit organizations of all types and sizes. The printed Give!Guide functions like a catalog of nonprofits, and is inserted into all 80,000+ copies of Willamette Week. In 2013, nearly 7,500 donors gave a total of $2.4 million to 129 organizations. This year, 136 organizations are participating. The website is www.giveguide.org.

What Makes Give!Guide Special?
Give!Guide makes giving giving fun and extra rewarding by offering many incentives for contributions. All donors who give at least $10 at any time during Give!Guide season earn an incentive, typically free or discounted items from local businesses.

But what Give!Guide is especially known for is their “Big Give” days: predetermined days during which any donor who makes a gift of at least $10 that day has an opportunity to be chosen at random to win a special incentive prize. Big Give prizes this year include a Trail Blazers ticket package, a Powell's Books shopping spree, a Thorn and Timbers ticket package, a new bike from Bike Gallery, and a Salt & Straw Ice Cream party for you and 200 friends!

Great - Now What?
CCC cherishes the privilege of being selected for Give!Guide again this year. If you have been thinking about making a year-end gift to Central City Concern, doing so through Central City Concern's Give!Guide page is a great, fun way to do so. Plus, CCC is offering our own incentives to thank and encourage giving:


  • If you are a first-time donor to Central City Concern, an anonymous donor will match your donation (up to a total of $2,500)
  • The first 20 Give!Guide donors of $100 or more will receive one bag of freshly roasted Central City Coffee delivered to their door
  • The single largest Give!Guide donor will receive a certificate for two tickets to a 2014-2105 regular-season Trail Blazers game.

Additionally, we hope that you will share this wonderful opportunity with all your friends and family. Encourage them to check out all the amazing nonprofits participating in Give!Guide, and tell them about why you believe in Central City Concern! Thank you!

Stay Up-to-date with All the Latest Give!Guide News
Central City Concern
Give!Guide page: giveguide.org/#centralcityconcern
Twitter: twitter.com/cccportland
Facebook: facebook.com/cccportland
Instagram: instagram.com/cccportland

Give!Guide
Main site: giveguide.org
Twitter: twitter.com/giveguide
Facebook: facebook.com/giveguide
Instagram: instagram.com/giveguide





Moving On - Happy & Healthy

Oct 23, 2014

Evann, age two, is busy with his mother’s keys -- swinging them, banging them on the ground as a noise maker and toddling to the mailbox to insert a key into their mailbox to get the day’s mail.  “He gets it open sometimes,” says his mother Alycia, whose eyes never stray far from Evann. We are in the courtyard play area at a Central City Concern’s family housing apartment building on a gorgeous fall day.

Alycia and her boys have had this mailbox, and this apartment, for the past year. Here, they’ve had the ongoing support of staff, as well as the reliable help of their neighbors - women in similar circumstances who are embracing a clean and sober lifestyle, going to school and/or working, and doing everything in their power to be good parents. Soon, this young family will move to a more permanent apartment situation. Alycia is ready. (Family selfie at right: Aaden, Gavin and Evann with their mom.)

The 34-year-old mother is clear-eyed about her goals:  taking the Oregon test to work as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) again, a career she had in the state of Washington for eight years, before addiction and chaos took hold of her life. 

At age 13, Alycia was already a casual marijuana user; drug use was common within her family. As a senior in high school, her usage shifted to crack cocaine. “I scared my mom so bad for so many years back then. Every time the phone rang, she thought it was the morgue,” she reflects. Her parents intervened and got her into a 28-day rehabilitation center. But it didn’t stick and by age 30, heroin and methamphetamines were her preferred drugs.

As a young adult, Alycia worked and partied. At age 21, she had her son Gavin, but soon her addictions generated so much chaos that she placed him in the care of her mother. Gavin, now age 13, lives with his grandmother permanently; he visits Alycia on weekends. 

In 2008, Alycia gave birth to Aaden, now age six. “He was my road dog.  He’d ride along with me, my friends and their kids. We used to take him everywhere. I had eight or nine homes over a few years and four evictions. We moved from house to house, couch to couch.” In 2010, she voluntarily placed Aaden with a friend and tried to get clean “on my own.” But without regular support, that effort crumbled. 

Then pregnant in 2012, a determined and desperate Alycia walked through the doors of Central City Concern’s Letty Owings Center (LOC), residential treatment for pregnant/parenting women. “LOC gave me a home - that was one of the biggest things. That’s why I couldn’t stay clean before - I didn’t have a place to call home,” she says. “I got to grow and know myself at LOC,” she reflects. “It was my first true recovery work.” Evann was born at LOC and Alycia started taking control of her life. After seven months at LOC with regular counseling, development of parenting and life skills, and ongoing recovery support, the young family moved to nearby transitional housing and then to the apartment they have called home for the past year.

Last holiday season, Alycia and her sons celebrated with other families at the apartment complex. Her two younger children received holiday gifts thanks to donor support, and Gavin got to shop on his own with a donated gift card.

This holiday season, Alycia looks forward to having more family members around as her father will be visiting and she plans on making hand-crafted items with the kids. The future is bright for Alycia and her family. “I have a dozen companies waiting to hire me. Long-term, I want to earn my Registered Nurse certificate in a few years once Evann is in school.” But for now there is Halloween to get ready for (the kids may all go as zombies) and packing to do for her next new home. 

Alycia, on what she wants for her children: 

“I want them to learn from my mistakes. I want them to have every opportunity that I didn’t have. I want them to go farther than I ever did. I want them to have confidence and security.”




She Learns from Her Patients... Old Town Clinic

Jul 14, 2014

by John Rumler
Reprinted with permission from the Portland Physician Scribe

The idealistic medical student at Dartmouth College yearned to work as a family doctor in the underserved backwoods of Maine. Instead, she found her calling working with underserved people in the heart of a big city.

Rachel Solotaroff, MD,medical director for Central City Concern (CCC), which serves about 13,000 people annually with health care, housing, peer support and employment, received the Karen Rotondo Award for Outstanding Service at the National Healthcare for the Homeless Conference last month. Rotondo, who died earlier this year of cancer, was an RN who was instrumental in building the nationwide health care network that exists for the homeless today. (photo by Heidi Hoffman)

The award recognizes hands-on caregivers who demonstrate vision and creativity in advancing the goals of ending and preventing homelessness, and who have made a significant contribution to improving the health and quality of life of people experiencing homelessness.

Solotaroff, who still spends 18 to 20 hours a week seeing patients, is credited with transforming CCC’s Old Town Clinic into a patient-centered primary care home model and was recognized last year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as “a national exemplary practice of patient-centered health care.” In addition to leading the Old Town Clinic, which serves about 4,000 patients yearly, Solotaroff has championed the development of a chronic pain program, which has become a national model for its innovative and effective approach to addressing chronic pain among homeless patients with histories of addiction.

Her unique dual role as CCC’s medical director and faculty member at Oregon Health & Science University has brought dividends: Solotaroff helped develop the social medicine curriculum for OHSU residents, and now all internal medicine residents rotate through Old Town Clinic twice.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Share of Oregon David Labby has known Solotaroff since she started at CCC in 2006. “Rachel listens very deeply to the community she serves. She seeks connections, she learns from her patients and is guided by their experiences,” he said. “We’ve all gained from Rachel’s commitment and passion for helping others, and she can be counted on to add a perspective you didn’t think of yourself, which is wonderful.”

Solotaroff’s father was an English professor at the University of Minnesota and her mother was general manager of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Her parents divorced when she was 8. Her stepfather, Bernard Mirkin, MD, PhD, was a neuropharmacology researcher and founded a research institute at Childrens’ Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “It would be nice to say that Bernard affected my decision to go to medical school, but that wasn’t the case,” Solotaroff said. “His line of work was so different than what I do. I’ve tried research and I am terrible at it,” she said.

The decision to become a doctor came to Solotaroff in an odd way. After graduating with an English degree from Brown University, she lived near Swans Island, Maine, a tiny fishing community where the family had spent summers vacationing. She lived deep in the woods in a shack without heat or running water and happened to read “Heirs of General Practice,” an article in the July, 1984 New Yorker by John McPhee. “I read it with the zeal I usually reserved for their movie reviews and when I put it down I thought: ‘This is what I want to do with my life,’” she said.

But it was five years before she returned to New England to study medicine at Dartmouth, where she graduated with honors. In between, she worked for City Year, a cutting-edge youth service organization.

“I cut my teeth on community service and learned about diversity, idealism, organizational culture and visionary leadership,” she said.

Humble, approachable and compassionate, Solotaroff has benefitted from many mentors over the years, but two stand out. Alan Khazei, one of the founders of City Year, encouraged her funny and creative side. “My father is very gifted comically and he taught me a love for impersonation and performance, but that desire to be onstage seemed selfish to me. Alan encouraged me to nurture and develop that part of me, and he taught me that leadership can be charismatic without being self-aggrandizing.”

The other mentor, Michael LaCombe, MD, she met during her third year in medical school when she was doing an internal medicine rotation. Solotaroff was struggling, wanting to stay true to her goal of becoming a family physician, but feeling that the internal medicine experience challenged and engaged her in a whole new way.

“Dr. LaCombe gave me the most valuable advice imaginable when he told me, ‘You can always step down and work anywhere you want, but when you have the option to learn and train, pick the most rigorous option, because you may never get that chance again.’” LaCombe continued to mentor Solotaroff personally and professionally through med school, her residency and beyond, and he officiated her wedding in 2005.

Solotaroff was an internal medicine resident at the University of Virginia when she met Tony Iaccarino, her future husband. A teacher at Reed College, he happened to be doing a research fellowship in Charlottesville. That brought Solotaroff to Portland, where she garnered a fellowship at the VA hospital.

Executive Director of the Oregon Primary Care Association Craig Hostetler has known Solotaroff for seven years and describes her as humble, approachable and compassionate. “But when it comes to her patients, she’s very smart and aggressive,” he said. “We need more doctors like Rachel who factor in the psychological and socioeconomic issues her patients face and make greater strides to improve their health outcomes while lowering the overall cost of care.” 



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 »

Give!Guide! is Live!

Central City Concern is in Give!Guide for the second year in a row! Participate in this community of year-end giving to CCC and many other worthy local nonprofits and receive great incentives! Learn more »

Central City Coffee

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