Monthly Volunteer Spotlight: July 2018 Edition

Jul 30, 2018

For this month, we’re doing a special spotlight to share about a great event that took place this month and how our volunteers have been a part of the changes that have happened at Central City Concern (CCC).

On a balmy summer evening, CCC’s volunteers gathered at the Old Town Recovery Center for a special volunteer re-orientation. This was an opportunity for our currently serving volunteers to get big picture updates about CCC and reminders about policy and procedure. For some of our longest-serving volunteers, it had been more than a decade since their initial orientation, so we had a lot of exciting information to share!

A volunteer attending the re-orientation listens as Sean Hubert, CCC's chief housing and strategy officer, provides a wide-ranging update on the organization's work.

Sean Hubert, CCC's chief housing and strategy officer, gave an engaging presentation about affordable housing and homelessness across the county and how that data is guiding the approach CCC takes in addressing those issues.

Adam Jaffe, CCC’s Privacy and Security Compliance analyst, helped illuminate how regulations like HIPAA protect CCC clients and residents and how volunteers’ work is a part of that effort.

We also asked our volunteers what they had seen change in their time at CCC and what has been meaningful about the time they have spent volunteering.

One long-serving volunteer, who began her service at the Old Town Clinic when it was still a small operation run by Ecumenical Ministries, summed up what she feels has changed over the course of her volunteership with one word: “Everything!”

Other volunteers noted the rapid expansion of staffing at CCC, while others noted how their own sense of commitment and appreciation for CCC’s work had deepened over time.

One long-serving volunteer, who began her service at the Old Town Clinic when it was still a small operation run by Ecumenical Ministries, summed up what had changed succinctly with one word: “Everything!”

And while there was a great variety in the response to what people had seen change at CCC, what they have appreciated about their experience was almost entirely the same across the board. To a person, each volunteer in attendance identified being able to work with CCC’s clients and staff as their favorite part of their experience. They described seeing an agency that is intricate in its structure, but proactive in helping create tangible growth and improvement in people’s lives.

It’s clear that our volunteers, no matter how long they have been with CCC, feel deeply committed to the community that they are a part of and that they serve. We were so grateful to have had this opportunity to share more with them about the goings-on at CCC and to hear their voices as part of those changes.



Graduations 2018: It Doesn't End Here

Jul 04, 2018

In a room filled with 75 people communally punctuating a graduation ceremony with joyful whoops, thunderous ovations, and raucous laughter, it was perhaps the small pockets of silence that spoke the loudest about the magnitude of the event.

The attendees had gathered for a mahafali—Swahili for graduation—at which a dozen graduates of Central City Concern’s (CCC) Imani Center program would be recognized. The Imani Center provides culturally responsive Afrocentric approaches to substance use disorder treatment and mental health counseling, connecting clients to the wider Black recovery community in Portland, Ore. The family members, friends and staff members from across CCC who were there had every reason to be in the mood to celebrate those being honored.

Graduates of the Imani Center program expressed great joy and gratitude to their counselors, as well as their friends, family, and peers who attended the graduation ceremony.

Imani Center counselors called up their graduating clients one by one, sharing words about their journey together and offering words of pride, insight and encouragement. Each graduate met and hugged their counselor, awash in the sound of applause. They received their certificate, tucked in a sturdy, handsome red or blue folder. The applause petered out.

Then… quiet.

For some graduates, no more than a second. For some others, maybe it was 10. But the silence wasn’t just an absence of sound; it was the incoming rush of a feeling.

Graduates used that time to glance down at their certificate, tracing their eyes over the words that confirmed that they had indeed taken a major step forward in the recovery: Certificate of Completion... Presented to... Has Successfully Completed.

They had not only started their journeys of recovery; they’d taken monumental steps forward on the path, and they were still on it that day.

One graduate, after she had collected herself, said, “I didn’t really think I’d graduate the mental health program. A year ago I was hearing voices. I’m so proud of myself. This is a step up. It’s been such a long time since I’ve accomplished anything positive.”

“We don’t need drugs. We got people. We got each other, even with our mental struggles.”

Another looked up from her certificate and scanned the packed community room, finding a reminder of the community effort that got her to this day. “We don’t need drugs,” she said. “We got people. We got each other, even with our mental struggles.”

The Imani Center is an exceptionally tailored program that uses a model of substance use disorder and mental health treatment developed to account for the Black community’s unique assets, culture, traumas and experiences. As such, Linda Hudson, CCC’s director of African-American services, closed the mahafali with words that spoke to the community’s ties that helped the graduates reach this moment and dream hopefully in their own futures.

“Imani is building a village to support our community. Find somebody coming up behind you and pull them up with you. It doesn’t end here.”



Graduations 2018: Continuing to Strive

Jul 03, 2018

“Continue to strive. It will help you get the things you want and get you where you want to be.”

These words, spoken by Central City Concern’s (CCC) Chief Human Resources Officer Joe Chapman, set the tone for the fifth annual CCC Employee Commencement. The celebration honored nine graduates (listed below) who received diplomas ranging from master’s degrees to counseling certificates.

Walter Bailey, a peer support specialist at CCC’s Imani Center since 2015, received his certification as an alcohol and drug counselor (CADC I). He shared his story with the group: “I thought being an athlete would be my entire life,” he said. “But the special privilege of working for CCC is amazing. I love watching people change their lives.”

Walter Bailey earned his CADC I certificate. He shared his story of having to recalibrate his future plans after his time as an athlete came to a close.     Mayra Hernandez of CCC's Employment Access Center receives her recognition certificate for earning her Master of Social Work from Portland State University.

CCC also acknowledged 16 recipients of higher education scholarships for CCC employees who are engaging in job-related studies to further or broaden their professional development. Jennifer McBratney, foundation scholarship program officer at Portland Community College, was the keynote speaker. She congratulated all the employees who attend classes in addition to working. “You believe in the mission so much but you’re also taking time to improve yourselves,” she said. McBratney also congratulated the agency for their commitment to employees who want to learn. “CCC is a beacon for the community.”

The new grads received a special CCC certificate and a commemorative cord. After the ceremony, the grads, scholarship recipients and their guests shared cake and congratulations—and basked in the words of Joe Chapman: “You’re amazing.”

2018 Graduates

Congratulations to all of our graduates!

  • Walter Bailey (Imani Center): Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor I, Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon
  • Jennifer Benjamin (Housing Administration): Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts Studies, Portland State University
  • Tyanna Benson (Old Town Recovery Center): Master of Social Work, Portland State University
  • Kascadare Causeya (Benefits and Enrollment Specialist Team): Master of Business Administration, Aspen University
  • Mayra Hernandez (Employment Access Center): Master of Social Work, Portland State University
  • Dana M. Jones (Old Town Recovery Center): Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Gonzaga University
  • Lisa King (Hooper Detoxification Stabilization Center): Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, Portland State University
  • Ryan Meristem (CCC Recovery Center): Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II, Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon
  • Eric Oswald (CCC Recovery Center): Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor II, Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon