Monthly Volunteer Spotlight: June 2016 Edition

Jun 23, 2016

Having moonlighted as a Medical Scribe Volunteer in addition to his Clinic Concierge role, Duc Phan has seen Old Town Clinic from both the waiting room and the exam room. Take a look at what Duc believes makes Old Town Clinic so successful, and how he plans to use what he has learned in the future!

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Name: Duc Phan

Position: My position at CCC is as a patient concierge or Clinic Concierge Volunteer.

What are some of your duties with that position?
Mainly trying to keep patients company. If they need any help walking up or down stairs I can assist them; if they don’t know where they are I can point them in the right direction. Bring them water if they get thirsty. I’m mostly just there to be a pair of ears to listen and have conversations with them.

Do you find yourself in a lot of engaging conversations with folks while they’re waiting for their appointments?
Patients—when they sit there and are waiting for an appointment—they are very much in the stage of not happy or [not wanting] to chit-chat. So I have to approach and introduce myself and once I initiate that they open up and they will talk about their lives, their reasons for being there, and they do share a lot of personal information (that I always keep private).

Once you initiate conversation they’re pretty much happy to share with you a lot of things. That’s the part that I feel is rewarding. The trust, for some reason, it just establishes quickly with me and the patients feel free and very quickly share why they are there and what is going on with them.

What do you find to be your favorite thing about Old Town Clinic?
The concept. The mission. It is a clinic that is not just focused on physical health. I see Old Town Clinic as such an integrated organization and you don’t really see that kind of clinic anywhere else. This model is very comprehensive in the way that it is very beneficial to the population of patients that come there. [The patients] go there and mainly, yes, the reason is because they are sick and have something that needs to be taken care of. But at the same time they have other issues that Old Town Clinic can offer [services for] and that is very wonderful.

When I did the scribe thing that was pretty cool. I was in the room with the doctor and after he went through the history of the patient and checked out the reason why the patient came in, he then said, “How are things going with you?”

It makes you think: you come here for the stomach ache or back pain, but let’s see what else is going on. Talk to me about how things are going on in your daily life.

Basically, you can offer more than just one kind of existence to the patient.

I know that you are in the application process for Physician Assistant graduate school. How do you think your experiences at Old Town Clinic will benefit you going forward in your career?
It helps in a way that broadens my focus to more than just the physical health of the patient. It helps me to take into consideration all of the factors that bring someone to [Old Town Clinic]. Maybe they have certain emotional issues, or maybe they just lost their job and don’t have a place to live. There can be many other reasons that will be the cause of certain conditions. And to be a healthcare provider, it is important to consider all of the factors [more so] than to just put on a bandage and treat the immediate condition.

A lot of doctors or nurses or physician assistants that work at the hospital seem to be very proficient professionals but their view is only in the hospital bubble. You only see the patient come in and then leave, but at Old Town Clinic they come in and it kind of feels like a whole family. You are here to take care of this person, this individual, and we all work together as a team and we all make sure that they leave this clinic fully taken care of.

So what advice would you have for a brand new clinic volunteer?
I say go for it! Be ready for good surprises. Old Town Clinic is a clinic that is rich in diversity and every day something different happens and every day you see a different type of patient in and out. I enjoy my time there a lot. People there are very friendly and very professional and it is a place driven by patient-centered care. And if anyone has a passion about patient-centered care, then Old Town Clinic is definitely the place to be for anyone who wants to get that kind of experience or get exposed to that kind of environment.

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If you are interested in learning more about volunteer positions at Central City Concern’s health and recovery, housing, or employment programs, contact Eric Reynolds, CCC’s Volunteer Manager, at or visit our volunteer webpage.

One Dad. One Daughter. One Day at a Time.

Jun 13, 2016

“We have a good relationship today,” says Easten B., of his daughter Zoe, an accomplished high school sophomore.

But things weren’t always that way. Easten was absent for six years of Zoe’s life battling drugs, alcohol, and homelessness. Since getting clean and sober almost three years ago, a lot has changed for Easten and Zoe. “It all started at Hooper,” he says, referring to Central City Concern’s Hooper Detox, where life took a dramatic turn for the better. It was there, in 2009 that Easten committed to “living a life free of fear, shame, and regret.” He wanted to be a good dad and he wanted to pursue his dream of owning a farm like his great-great grandfather once did.

Soon after completing treatment at Hooper Detox, Easten was accepted into Central City Concern’s Recovery Mentor Program, which included supportive housing in an alcohol- and drug-free environment at the Estate Hotel. He was surrounded by people who were hungry for a new way of life and positive change. He worked with CCC counselors and fellow residents to get and stay healthy. He joined the Community Volunteer Corps (CVC) and engaged in group projects that involved everything from pulling ivy at the Oregon Zoo to folding newsletters at the Hollywood Senior Center in northeast Portland.

“CVC gave me a sense of purpose—that is so important in early recovery.”

The following year he secured a 6-month trainee position in Central City Concern’s Downtown Clean and Safe program. He was able to get into a daily routine that not only added structure to his life, but also helped build self-esteem.

While in treatment at the Central City Concern Recovery Center, a counselor told Easten to work every day to get better. He told Easten to beware of life’s plateaus and to keep reaching for more.

So Easten has kept reaching. He recently began work with Progress Rail, a contracting company for Union Pacific Railroad, doing maintenance, safety tests, and inspections on train cars in the field. The job has enabled him to get his own apartment in northwest Portland. It’s a long way from the tent he used to live in under the St. Johns Bridge.

He’s also kept reaching in another important way: to be a good Dad to Zoe. To Easten, that means being “available, patient, understanding, and willing to love unconditionally.” Easten doesn’t want the disease of addiction to take away anymore birthdays, holidays, or opportunities to participate in his daughter’s life.

“I wasn’t good at being a dad the first time around, and I’m so grateful to get another chance. I taught Zoe to fish and to skateboard. And now I’m teaching her to drive.”

Zoe is a standout student who makes her father proud. He sees unlimited potential in the effort she puts forth every day in and out of the classroom.

“She’s in a Technical Theater Program and signs fluently. Her choir took first place in a big competition this year and she competed in Battle of the Books. She’s a good student who’s outgoing and cares a lot for others. All of this is a big deal to me,” says Easten. “She’s going to be great ... I know it.”

“My mind and body are healthier than ever now,” Easten shares. “I couldn’t have done any of this without Central City Concern.”

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Honor Easten or any father by making a donation to Central City Concern today.

CCC Makes Progress on Affordable Housing in Portland

Jun 09, 2016

As the days get longer and warmer, Central City Concern is moving forward on exciting affordable housing projects this summer to serve the Portland Metro area!

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Hill Park Apartments

On Wednesday, May 25, community members, funders, and staff gathered in the Lair Hill neighborhood in Southwest Portland to break ground on the site of Hill Park Apartments, a new 39-unit housing community. Eight of the units will be for individuals living with serious mental illness, while the remaining 31 apartments will be for low-income households; many of those units will be filled by graduates of CCC programs who have gained employment with the help of the Employment Access Center.

CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn thanked partners, followed by remarks from Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Jill Sherman of Gerding Edlen Development, and Michael Montgomery of U.S. Bank. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Kurt Creager of Portland Housing Bureau, and representatives from our many partners and funders also attended the groundbreaking.

Hill Park Apartments will open in Spring 2017.

Town Center Courtyards

A new 60-unit, permanent supportive housing apartment community comprised of one, two, and three bedroom units in Clackamas is nearly complete. This affordable housing will serve individuals and families earning less than 60 percent of area median family income, meeting one or more of the following: in recovery from alcohol and/or drug abuse, homeless families with children, survivors of domestic violence, and families working toward reunification and regaining custody of children from protective services and foster care.

Town Center Courtyards is scheduled to open in August 2016.

Miracles Central

This six-story, 47-unit housing development in the Lloyd District is a collaboration between CCC and the Miracles Club, a partner recovery-based organization focused on Portland’s African-American community. The building will consist of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, intended as peer-based recovery housing for singles and families.

Miracles Central is schedule to open by August 2016.

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CCC gratefully relies on support from community partners and donors to develop affordable and supportive housing projects that lift up our community and provide hopeful futures for people in Portland. We are working on additional construction that could add hundreds of affordable housing units to the Portland Metro area in the near future. Stay tuned!