CCC Celebrates Addition to the Healing Through Art Collection

May 25, 2017

Laura Ross-Paul | Power of the Pacific, 1989 | Oil on canvas, 60”x72” | Donated by Laura Ross-PaulKatherine Ace | Conversation, 2007 | Oil/alkyd, paper, gold leaf and insect wings, 36”x36” | Donated by Katherine AceMike Newman | untitled (Pentecost) | Butterfly on metal with paint/acid, 15.5”x19” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia EngelmanRick Bartow | Story (12/50), 2000 | Lithograph, 17”x14” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia EngelmanBill Brewer | A Blind Knowing, 1993 | Acrylic on panel, 30”x16” | Donated by Bob Kochs & Phyllis OsborneFrank Boyden | LITH, 1993 | Etching (10/30), 18”x18” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia Engelman
Erinn Kennedy | Blue Gem, 2001 | Acrylic, 10”x10” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia EngelmanGregory Grenon | Dahlias, 1999 | Lithograph (5/75), 18”x15” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia EngelmanWhitney Nye | Riff, 2002 | Acrylic, alkyd, paper, glass on wood panel, 24”x24” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia EngelmanSusan McKinnon | Interiors #4, 1992 | Watercolor, 26”x26” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia EngelmanJules Olitski | Elegy, 2002 | Color screenprint edition 108, 34”x42” | Donated by Bennett & Sylvia EngelmanDavid Slader | Eulogy for a Pastrami Sandwich, 2014 | Oil/oil crayon on panel on canvas, 36”x48” | Donated by David Slader
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Phase 2 of the Healing Through Art Collection consists of nearly 100 pieces of original fine art. Click on a photo to begin the slideshow of select pieces.

• • •

On Friday, May 19, Central City Concern celebrated the completion of Phase 2 of the Healing Through Art Collection, which placed nearly 100 beautiful and healing artworks in CCC housing and program sites across the Portland metro area.

Since 2012, patients, staff members, and guests of CCC’s Old Town Clinic and Old Town Recovery Center, collectively known as our downtown health campus, have enjoyed our Healing Though Art Collection. By late 2015, the collection had grown to nearly 60 pieces of fine art (from 35 artists based in the Pacific Northwest), each curated, procured, and approved for its aesthetic, healing, and calming properties.

But the collection inside the health campus—the product of several years of work done by the all-volunteer Art Task Force—turned out to be just the beginning.

Because the Healing Through Art collection consistently received such enthusiastic and appreciative response from clients and staff alike, the Art Task Force was asked to continue their work in order to bring original fine art into several CCC housing communities and program sites, including Miracles Central, Madrona Studios, the Sally McCracken Building, the Estate Hotel Building, and the Puentes program. The volunteer Art Task Force spent more than a year on this addition to the Healing Through Art collection, dubbed Phase 2, carefully selecting, procuring, and placing works across the five new sites.

The May 19 celebration brought together the Art Task Force, donors to Phase 2, several artists whose works are represented in the updated collection, and representatives from several local galleries who have both donated and provided guidance for the collection. Members of the Portland Art Museum Northwest Art Council joined the event.

CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn kicked off the evening by thanking donors, artists, and volunteers for their support while providing an overview of CCC’s care model. He also shared how the artwork hung on the walls of our clinic spaces and housing communities impact the wellbeing of the people we serve.

Art Task Force Chair Pam Baker provided the history of the collection and called out each Phase 2 donor. She also announced that work on Phase 3 of the Healing Through Art Collection would begin shortly to extend the collection into the historic Golden West Hotel building where our Imani Center program is based, as well as the two housing communities and the combined housing and clinic building that slated to be completed in 2018 as part of Central City Concern’s Housing is Health initiative.

Special guest Grace Kook-Anderson, Portland Art Museum’s Curator of Northwest Art, concluded the program by speaking about how specific pieces in the collection stood out to her. She also shared that she was thrilled that the Healing Through Art collection brought such high-quality work to the population CCC serves.

Find the full list of the pieces that comprise Phase 2 of the Healing Through Art Collection and their donors by downloading the Healing Through Art Phase 2 addendum.

The volunteer Art Task Force that worked on Phase 2 include:

  • Pam Baker
  • Alice McCartor
  • Carole Romm
  • Marcy Schwartz
  • Kathleen Stephenson-Kuhn
  • Dan Winter


Another Successful We Are Family Fundraiser!

May 22, 2017

Central City Concern's annual fundraiser for the Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs took place on Tuesday, May 2, at the Multnomah Athletic Club.During the program, CCC's Dr. Rachel Solotaroff sat down with Jamie (right) and her son, Dante (center), to talk about how CCC's Letty Owings Center and Family Housing have changed their lives.CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn kicked off the program by welcoming the crowd of nearly 400.CCC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Solotaroff spoke about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), how they contribute to cycles of poverty, and how those cycles can and are broken.
Chief Housing & Employment Officer Sean Hubert spoke about generational poverty and the steps CCC is taking to provide housing for families in need.Former CCC Chief Administrative Officer Rebecca Birenbaum made a heartfelt pitch to the audience of the need to support CCC's Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs.Dante was a fantastic helper during the evening-ending raffle!We were thrilled to have Letty Owings Center Co-Founder Nancy Anderson (left) join us for the evening, pictured here with with CCC Executive Coordinator E.V. Armitage (right).The evening's entertainment was provided by  Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Famer Shirley Nanette.

Central City Concern's annual fundraiser for the Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs took place on Tuesday, May 2, at the Multnomah Athletic Club. Click on a photo to begin the slideshow.

• • •

On May 2, Central City Concern held our annual “We Are Family” fundraising dinner for Letty Owings Center, celebrating 20 years as a Central City Concern program, and our Family Housing programs. The big event took place for the fourth consecutive year at the Multnomah Athletic Club in southwest Portland. Rain couldn’t keep the partygoers away and a good time was had by all.

The evening’s program was led off by Executive Director Ed Blackburn, then Chief Housing and Employment Officer Sean Hubert offered thoughts on generational poverty and the steps Central City Concern is taking to provide housing for families in need. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Solotaroff followed Sean with powerful insight on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). She spoke of how CCC addresses childhood trauma while helping people break the cycle of addiction and poverty.

Our featured guest was Family Housing resident and mother Jamie, along with her 10-year-old son Dante. Jamie shared her story of overcoming addiction in the safe and supportive environment of Letty Owings Center, a six-month residential addiction treatment program for pregnant women and those with young children. She also talked about her transition from Letty Owings Center to CCC Family Housing, where she has a family mentor, has learned basic money management, and continues to safely raise and care for her three children. Jamie’s goals include pursuing a career as a medical assistant after completing the prerequisites at Portland Community College.

Entertainment was provided by Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Famer Shirley Nanette and Friends. Stumptown Photo Booth added to the to the picture perfect night.

All in all, close to 400 guests attended to celebrate and support our families and raised over $120,000 for the Letty Owings Center, which has witnessed the births of more than 270 babies, and the Family Housing program, which is home to 154 families.



Homeless Persons Memorial Day

Dec 21, 2015

December is busy: holidays, children on break from school, travel to family functions, year-end duties at work… Our lists lengthen in December and many of us feel burdened by extra responsibilities.

Yet… most of us have clean and dry socks to wear, a roof over our heads and people in our lives who notice if we do not show up for the holiday party. Most of us have abundance in droves compared to people who are living on the streets. 

In the latest estimate by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an estimated 564,708 Americans are homeless. It’s an unhealthy and dangerous existence. Overall, people experiencing homelessness are three times more likely to die than the general population. While most of us can expect to live into our late 70s, the average age of death for a homeless person is about 50 years.  People living on the streets are often victims of unprovoked violence and roughly 700 of them die every year from hypothermia,  according to the National Coalition for the Homeless

Since 2010, the Multnomah County Health Department, Oregon State Medical ExaminerMultnomah County Medical Examiner's Office, and Street Roots have worked together to track the number of individuals who have died in the past year and had no known address. Last year, 56 individuals were noted in the County’s report, entitled “Domicile Unknown.” The report goes on to state, “The lack of affordable local housing, the opiate epidemic and the persistent challenges of mental illness and addiction are contributing causes of deaths that could otherwise be prevented.”

Sadly, many of these deaths are of people who have fallen so far out of mainstream society that their absences were barely noticed. Their names were rarely uttered.  No one wondered about their well-being.

Since 1990, the National Coalition for the Homeless has sponsored National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day on today’s date - December 21st. It also happens to be the first day of winter and longest night of the year. In 2014, more than 100 cities in the United States held memorial ceremonies to remember homelessness individuals who have died in the course of the year.  In 2005, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and the National Consumer Advisory Board joined National Coalition for Homeless as co-sponsors of the Day of Remembrance. 

At Central City Concern

On a yearly basis at Central City Concern, we provide housing and care to roughly 13,000 people who have been impacted by homelessness.  By the time some people come to our door, however, the health effects after years on the streets are irreversible.  For such people, our Old Town Clinic staff members are often more than mere health care providers. They are sympathetic ears, inquisitive conversationalists and compassionate souls.  

For our 119 staff members working at Central City Concern’s Old Town Clinic, the frantic pace of seeing dozens of patients daily is paused for about an hour on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving. Since 2010, staff have taken time to utter names and share stories, laughs and tears about patients, who despite a level of engagement with a medical team, have slipped away. This year’s ceremony recognized 70 patients.

“It started from a need to remember and desire to take a moment to reflect,” says Chuck Sve, Acupuncturist and Education Coordinator. “Noticing what was going on around here which was that some clients were dying, some expected and some unexpected, some violently and some for unknown reasons.  Some death was understood and some just wasn’t.  It became clear we needed to acknowledge it.” 

Ceremonies have varied over the years. “We have used rocks or flowers to symbolize someone who had died and built an altar.  Together we remember and honor those who have passed.  This develops an increased sense of community and being grateful for what these people have given us. This year’s ceremony had us sitting in concentric circles with singing and sharing, crying and laughter, and just being together in way that is nourishing for our spirit. Staff have always been receptive and appreciated the opportunity to remember those clients who have died.  It has been memorable, touching, unusual and intimate,” says Chuck. 

(Photo is from 2010 ceremony; at the 2014 ceremony, staff sat in concentric circles, singing and sharing, crying and laughter. The Threshold Choir, a group that sings for people as they crossing life's thresholds, joined the ceremony.)

“For me, working at OTC is all about relationship building with our patients,” say Care Team Manager Carol Weber.  “In doing so, there is a lot of dignity, respect, love and care that goes into building that relationship. So, when a patient passes, there is a real sense of loss for us. This time of remembrance helps us in the process of ‘letting go.’ Too many of our patients don’t have good relationships in their lives….we as human beings all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. The remembrance event that we do is part of that dignity and respect.”

Kerith Hartmann, Health Educator and Project Coordinator at Old Town Clinic, said “In our busy work environment, we often hear about a patient’s death from a co-worker in passing while we are on our way to help another patient. Collectively pausing and sharing stories about individuals is powerful.” 

We asked staff to reflect upon how they felt after the ceremony as they rushed down the hallway to their first appointment. Kerith said, “I feel more connected with the patients with whom I interact. It instills in me a sense of making the most of every moment and helps me do my best to support people while they are making changes. I feel more engaged because I am part of an organization that values this tradition.”

Kerith also recalled a particular patient: “It’s a patient I spoke to on the phone frequently when I was a Health Assistant. Whenever this patient was visiting the clinic, I would say hello and check in briefly. When he was physically fragile, I would help him down the hallway and offer some encouraging words. He ultimately died by suicide. I learned about it when I called for outreach and heard the unfamiliar voice of a family member on the phone. This death really impacted me. Sometimes it is easy to feel like we are one step removed from patients, especially due to the necessity of building strong professional boundaries and ensuring privacy. But, these boundaries don’t impede the connection or the impact that patients make on our lives.” 
 
Chuck summed up the ceremony further, adding, “It’s an opportunity to recognize the cycle of life and death.  To come together to share the blessings and burdens of working with suffering, being with change, being alive.”

#HomelessMemorial





Recovery News and Recovery Month at CCC

Oct 07, 2015

Central City Concern (CCC) began in 1979 as a recovery organization and we’d like to update you on some recent enhancements and expanded capacity in our recovery programs. As you may already know, we have an array of programs and we believe in tailoring programs to meet the needs of individuals. Increasingly, these three themes are driving our thinking:

Peers are important

In Our Housing and Through the Recovery Mentor Program
The value of peers is well documented when it comes to recovery and when we formed the Recovery Mentor Program in 1999, we quickly saw the enormous difference that peers could make.

Multnomah County has recently echoed our belief in this kind of programming by helping us expand the Recovery Mentor Program, adding three staff positions and 43 additional apartments for participants, nearly doubling the number of clients we can serve. (The full Mentor team is pictured here.)

Central City Concern is also expanding the use of peers for recovery services throughout the agency, often embedding such staff positions in our housing. We have added eight peer support positions in four buildings and have increased training of our front desk staff who are in frequent contact with the people we serve.

Domestic Violence/Recovery Project
Multnomah County is also supporting a domestic violence/recovery mentor project to coordinate care for women who are affected by both domestic violence and substance use disorders.

Estimates are that between 50-90% of women who have substance use disorders have experienced domestic violence. By using peers, we can present strong role models for women to inspire hope that change is possible through this integrated approach to treatment. Peer mentors will provide community outreach and engagement at domestic violence shelters and at alcohol and drug treatment programs. There will also be opportunities for cross-training and consultation between staff from programs.

We recently discussed this new program with leaders from the State of Oregon and Multnomah County at a Get to Know the Real Central City Concern event. You can watch the full panel discussion here. Get to Know the Real Central City Concern is a series of exclusive events offered throughout the year to community members who are making significant investments in Central City Concern’s work. 

Choice can drive success

Opiate epidemic calls for urgent action
Central City Concern offers choices in housing, like our Community Engagement Program, with strong outcomes. We are moving more toward recovery choice, striving to bring the right resources and approaches to every individual.

In recent years, the treatment field has had to step up to respond to the epidemic of opiate dependence and overdose deaths. While CCC continues to strongly support and value abstinence based recovery, we also have medication assisted alternate opioid treatment and overdose prevention initiatives in place throughout the agency. This has been a bold step for Central City Concern and our staff members are bringing an extraordinary level of openness and compassion to these new practices.

Culture Counts

The Latino Community
In 2005, Central City Concern began offering recovery services for Latino adults and teens, filling a dire need in the community. Spanish-speaking staff members work with clients from an appropriate culturally-specific vantage point. Puentes staff members also serve mental health needs and reach approximately 170 people annually. With Multnomah County support, the program will soon add two staff positions and will expand by nearly 30%, with intentions of reaching 240 people annually. 

The African American Community
African Americans are over represented in the homeless population and for many years, Central City Concern has provided both mental health and addiction services to African Americans. This year, these programs will operate in an integrated fashion with oversight from a Director of African-American Services. This collective set of services is under the program name of The Imani Center. “Imani,” the seventh principle of Kwanzaa, means "faith" in Swahili.  Central City Concern chose this name as a positive expression of faith and hope. You’ll hear more about this new program in the coming year.

• • •

CCC Celebrates National Recovery Month

Thank you to everyone for being a part of Recovery Month at Central City Concern. The month was packed with ways we recognized that the stories of those in recovery are visible, vocal, and valuable. Some Recovery Month highlights include:

CCC Participates in Hands Across the Bridge
On September 7, many people from the CCC community joined thousands of others at Hands Across the Bridge to celebrate the strength and unity of recovery. Central City Concern was proud to be an event sponsor.

Recovery Mentor Program 15th Anniversary
More than 200 alumni of the Recovery Mentor Program gathered at the Ambridge Event Center to celebrate its 15th Anniversary! 

CCC executive director Ed Blackburn gave the audience some historical perspective of the program. Marissa Madrigal, Multnomah County’s Chief Operating Officer, recounted the ways in which the county has partnered and supported the program because it is simply a program that has strong outcomes and save lives. She also spoke about the recent exciting growth of the program, which includes three new recovery mentor staff positions and 43 new units of available housing. She ended her remarks by reminding the alumni that their lives are visible, vocal, and valuable.

Two CCC programs were recognized for the integral support they provide new mentees. The Community Volunteer Corps, represented by Rachel Hatcher and Paul Flynt, and the CCC Recovery Center, represented by Melissa Bishop, were given awards.

The night was capped off with Recovery Mentors Doug Bishop, Torrence Williams, Lynda Williams, and David Fitzgerald each receiving recognition for their immense dedication to the Recovery Mentor Program and the individuals who come through in need of guidance and hope. A program alum introduced each Mentor, speaking to how each Mentor influenced (and continues to influence) their lives.

Recovery Month Photo Project
At the Recovery Mentor Anniversary party, attendees took photos holding up a board that completed the sentence, “Recovery has allowed me to…” and the resulting photos have been such an encouragement and inspiration to share. Resulting photos were organized into panels, which were shared on our social media throughout Recovery Month. You can see all the panels from the series by visiting the "Recovery Has Allowed Me to..." album on Facebook.

We also compiled all the photos into the poster at right. Click on the image for a higher-resolution version.

Panel Discussion on Women, Addiction, and Homelessness
As noted above, CCC hosted a panel discussion between local experts to explore the unique challenges women working to treat and manage their addiction face, especially when their addiction is compounded by domestic violence, poverty, and homelessness.

Telling a Colleague’s Recovery Story
We had the privilege and pleasure of sharing the recovery journey of CCC’s own Leonard Brightmon, whose outlook and perseverance is an inspiration to many in the community. You can earlier, you can read it at: .

Shining the Spotlight on a Volunteer in Recovery
Jennifer Fresh volunteers as an Old Town Clinic Concierge. We also had a chance to feature Jennifer Fresh, an Old Town Clinic Concierge volunteer, on our blog's Monthly Volunteer Spotlight. She spoke about what makes the path of recovery so compatible with volunteerism and how her life has changed since finding sobriety. 

• • •

On behalf of the estimated 23 million+ people in recovery in our country and the thousands who are in Central City Concern’s daily care, thank you for your interest in our work!

 




Celebrate National Health Center Week 2015 with CCC!

Aug 10, 2015

More than fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty during his State of the Union address, a commitment that directly led to the 1965 establishment of the Neighborhood Health Centers program. The impact over the past 50 years has been extraordinary. Today, health centers serve more than 23 million people in 9,000 communities across our nation: 1 in 15 of our friends and neighbors call a health center their health home. These critical safety net providers care for the most vulnerable members of our community, providing high-quality care and welcoming environments for everyone, regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay.

Central City Concern Health Services became a Federally Qualified Health Center in 2003. Over the past twelve years, our health center has grown to 10 locations serving more than 7,000 people. We provide a wide range of health care services, including substance use disorder services, pharmacy, primary care, alternative and complementary medicine, and mental health care. The Federally Qualified Health Center program enables us to provide care regardless of ability to pay, and to meet the people we serve where they are, offering person-centered care that responds to individuals’ immediate needs while collaboratively developing longer-term goals for wellness.

In the week ahead, we’ll be profiling a few of the extraordinary people who make this work possible. They are peers, physicians, outreach workers, and others who have devoted their careers to serving our fellow community members who are sleeping outside, are marginally housed, or have very low incomes. Each staff member profiled this week was nominated by their program leadership as individuals who personify the values of the Health Center program and CCC’s mission.

As the co-leader of CCC’s health care division, together with my colleague Dr. Rachel Solotaroff, it’s my privilege and honor to work with this diverse group of staff on a daily basis and to bear witness to their incredible dedication to the people we serve and their passion for CCC’s mission. Rachel and I, together with our leadership team, hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as we enjoy working with them. 

Leslie Tallyn
Chief Clinical Operations Officer



Celebrating our Employee Graduates

Mar 18, 2015

“In a lot of work that we do as learners, we grow in helping others learn. That means you’re often maybe a teacher and a mentor and a leader to other people. And that knowledge that you have is a great asset to you.”

With those words, keynote speaker Dr. Stephen Percy, Dean of Portland State University’s College of Urban and Public Affairs, simultaneously commended the Central City Concern employee graduates for their extraordinary efforts and tapped them with further responsibility to raise up people around them.

In all, twenty-three CCC staff members were honored on Friday, March 13, at Central City Concern’s second annual Education Community Graduation Ceremony. Each person honored had completed an education or training program on top of their busy work schedule within the past year.

The 23 graduates represented more than 15 distinct areas of study and training programs, ranging from Bachelors and Masters degrees to computer training courses, certifications and licenses to leadership programs.

Ed Blackburn, CCC Executive Director, addressed the honorees, saying that reading each of the names on the certificates he signed was a moving exercise.

“You’re an inspiration to me. Your efforts are an inspiration for others,” Ed said. “I’m so pleased that the organization has people like you who want to continue advancing their education and learning.”

During the keynote address, Dr. Percy encouraged honorees to use their newly acquired knowledge as a bridge to better serving others.

“I imagine that many of you got more education so you can continue to do even more to help other people as well as advancing your own lives,” said Dr. Percy. “If you can give a little help, a little assistance, some encouragement, we can change things and make things better. There’s a beauty from working with other people.”

Each graduate was called up by name and was given a certificate of accomplishment and ceremonial cord.

We know that encouraging and investing in our employees – whether through direct financial assistance, support from peers, or making resources more accessible – will allow our staff members to realize their full potential as exceptional colleagues and professionals. As Ed said during the ceremony, Central City Concern is proud to be “an organization that supports those who are trying to advance their knowledge and their education.”



Chain Reaction Co-op Grand Opening

Mar 12, 2015

Last Friday, March 6, Central City Concern and Bikes for Humanity PDX (B4HPDX) came together to celebrate and officially announce the grand opening of the Chain Reaction Bike Co-op, located in CCC’s Estate building.

A partnership project nearly two years in the making, the Chain Reaction Bike Co-op will serve as a resource through which CCC clients can help refurbish donated bicycles and receive bike mechanic training, earning a free bike through sweat equity. Bikes for Humanity PDX will provide the curriculum, volunteer trainers, and tools.

“This is such a fantastic synergy between the mission of Central City Concern and what Bikes for Humanity PDX does,” Rachel Bailey, CCC’s Sustainable Development Manager, said during the kick-off event. “Clients will be able to access a free, sustainable form of transportation that supports their efforts toward becoming more self-sustaining and self-sufficient.”

Bikes for Humanity PDX takes publicly donated bikes and uses professionally developed curriculum to teach volunteers to become mechanically proficient; many of their refurbished bikes are then given to those in need or sold. These volunteers then go out into the community and help others repair their bicycles.

According to Steven Kung, founder of B4HPDX, Rachel first approached his organization as a potential beneficiary of the dozens, possibly hundreds, of bicycles past tenants had left behind in CCC housing over the years.

“I told her that we don’t have room to store all of that, but if CCC has storage space, Bikes for Humanity can provide the program,” Scott told the audience. “We can donate the tools, and we can provide free training so we can help your clients become self-reliant, just like our volunteers.”

Central City Concern found the perfect space in the basement of the Estate Hotel housing property. CCC and B4HPDX then set out to work out details with regarding granting bikes, finding volunteers, and other programmatic and logistical matters. More than a year of planning later, the Chain Reaction Co-op was ready for clients.

“This is one of the first instances of a bike co-op in a network of co-ops that B4HPDX is creating around the Portland metro area. We hope to see this as a very good example to let other communities see things like this can be done,” said Steven.

According to Ryan Davis, a CCC Employment Specialist who is coordinating the repair workshops for interested clients through the Employment Access Center, Chain Reaction has already garnered considerable interest and is poised to make a great impact on the CCC client community.

“More than 10 clients have signed up to participate in the first set of repair classes. Each person is confirmed to start on Monday!” Ryan announced to those in attendance. “It’s been a beautiful process to collaborate with Bikes for Humanity.”

While many grand openings opt for a ribbon cutting, CCC and B4HPDX decided instead to signal the official start of Chain Reaction with a memorable ribbon “ride-through.” Ryan, after donning the proper safety gear, rode his own bike down the adjoining hallway, into the co-op space, and straight through a ribbon. (left)

We look forward to checking back in after the first round of clients have finished refurbishing their bikes!



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. 



CCC's 2nd Annual Education Fair

Jan 29, 2015

On Tuesday, January 27, Central City Concern held its 2nd Annual Education Fair to bring resources and information about educational opportunities to our employees.

At Central City Concern, we strive to see our clients, patients, and residents believe in and reach their higher potential. As Ed Blackburn, CCC’s Executive Director, has been known to say, everyone is capable of reaching a higher potential with the right support. For those we serve, that support begins in the form of CCC’s housing and healthcare. For those who are able, volunteerism and employment follow. In addition, CCC brings dignity do disabled individuals by helping them attain benefits, enabling them to fully participate in the community.

Our belief in the higher potential of individuals also extends to the amazing people who work at Central City Concern. For many employees, furthering their education is a prominent part of their journey toward reaching a higher potential. 

Representatives from more than a dozen colleges and universities flocked to the Old Town Recovery Center (OTRC) and set up booths to provide information and answer questions about available fields of study, financial aid opportunities, student life, and more. Last year’s Education Fair proved to be so successful that CCC’s Human Resources team not only increased the number of participating schools, but it also arranged a seminar on ways to finance higher education. CCC HR staff members were also on hand to talk with employees about how CCC can support their pursuit of educational advancement.

Employees had varying reasons for checking out the fair. One employee believed that the experience she has gained as a health assistant at OTRC would make her a successful candidate for advanced healthcare programs. Another employee had just found out about new scholarship opportunities for which he was eligible and was interested in finding ways to take advantage of the financial resource.

Attendees recognized Central City Concern’s active support to staff toward fulfilling educational goals and potential. One of our housing case managers said that it was “clear that CCC wants to see me progress and follow my passion for getting more educated.” 

An employee from Puentes said that bringing information and opportunities to encourage educational advancement “shows that CCC really cares about me. They want me to be better for myself. And then I’ll also become better for CCC and my clients.”

A post-Fair survey showed that more than half the employees who attended were interested in enrolling in undergraduate or graduate studies. Many others said that they were interested in obtaining further licensure or professional certificates. 

The Education Fair is only one way that Central City Concern supports our employees’ educational aspirations. Next week, we’ll bring you news of yet another development that aims to provide our employees yet another step up toward their higher potential through educational advancement.



How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes - Opening soon!

Jan 22, 2015

It’s not every day that your organization gets invited to participate in a groundbreaking, innovative theatre production. But that’s exactly the opportunity that came Central City Concern’s way a few months ago, when Portland Playhouse approached us with the opportunity to play a small part of their upcoming production, How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes.

How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes, which opens February 4, is:

not a play; it is not a lecture; it is not an interactive workshop; it is not a physical theatre piece; it is not a public conversation. How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes is all of these things. Most significantly, it’s an opportunity to challenge a different audience every show with the question: how do you attack the problem of poverty in America, with a lens specifically focused on Multnomah County. Over the course of 90 minutes, the audience will listen, explore and ultimately choose how to spend $1,000 cash from ticket sales sitting onstage at each performance. The show is an experiment in dialogue, in collective decision-making, in shared responsibility, and in the potential for art to help us make our world a better place. Spectacularly eclectic in form, often delightful and occasionally uncomfortable, How to End Poverty will engage Multnomah County audiences alongside community experts.

Portland Playhouse staff have looked to local Portland nonprofits – including Central City Concern and dozens of other organizations doing important work – to make the show enriching, thoughtful, and provocative. According to Elliot Leffler, Director of Community Partnerships,

“…representatives of these organizations – including staff members and clients – will engage the public in a spirited, thoughtful, and unconventional dialogue about poverty, its root causes, its systemic entrenchment, and how we might collectively address it most effectively.” 

Our own Sean Hubert, Chief Housing and Employment Officer, and Gary Cobb, Community Outreach Coordinator, will bring their expertise and experience to the shows on February 4 and February 6, respectively.

Further, many of our staff, as well as clients, will be attending throughout the show’s run (February 4 – February 22). Audience dialogue is a major part of the production and we look forward to hearing how Central City Concern attendees contribute to this community-wide conversation.

We are greatly looking forward to being a part of How to End Poverty in 90 Minutes. You can find out more about the show and buy tickets for a showing at http://www.portlandplayhouse.org/htep