Strolling throughout downtown Portland, or most anywhere in Portland for that matter, it can be difficult not to sheepishly eye the rows of sleeping bags, pass along a spare coin or dollar to every outreached hand, or read the handwritten messages upon various pieces of cardboard. A few folks might stop, share a few words with the owner of that sleeping bag, outreached hand, or piece of cardboard, and walk away from the conversation wondering what is being done - or what can be done - to get them a bed, job, or the care they may need.
It is this internal questioning and curiosity that brings many individuals to Central City Concern wondering who and how they can help in giving one of their most personal and valuable resources - time.
CCC’s volunteers are not only some of the most compassionate, patient, and friendly individuals who step through our doors, but they are also the ones doing it without any expectation of compensation. Looking at the impact of our volunteers over the last 12 months, one can quantify their efforts in any number of ways. With over 8,500 hours put forth, a financial impact of over $175,000 (the equivalent of paying monthly utilities for 1,731 Portland homes) and the thousands of sincere smiles, handshakes, and waves given, CCC’s volunteers, simply put, help us do more and do better.
From sorting donated clothing with our textile management project to sorting data and entering it into a spreadsheet, or teaching patients how to properly take their new prescription in our Old Town Clinic Pharmacy to teaching residents of CCC housing how to creatively express themselves, the variety of ways our volunteers have the ability to simply “help” never ceases to amaze me. Not only are these individuals working to improve the community in which they live and we all share, but they are also choosing to place themselves at the center of social change.
The catalyst for many of our volunteers is a simple one – they notice a problem in their community, and they want to do something about it. What separates volunteers from many others, though, is that they are taking action. Through acts of kindness, generosity, and a belief in a shared responsibility to one another, volunteers are able to keep our communities moving forward. Although the question of “what can be done?” is not a simple one to answer, CCC’s volunteers prove that it is a question that can be answered in many different ways.
On behalf of Central City Concern and those we serve, thank you to volunteers, both within our programs and everywhere else, who are making a tremendous impact in their communities one week, one day, and one moment at a time.
Eric Reynolds, Volunteer Coordinator