Central City Concern

Providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness and achieving self-sufficiency. Based in Portland, Ore. since 1979.

Jessica's Story

Dec 12, 2019

Before the age of 18, Jessica had racked up a number of minors in possession and runaway charges, and had spent approximately 30 days in juvenile detention.

Her downward spiral continued for years. This culminated in 20 different arrests for crimes such as selling drugs and stealing, and she lived on and off the streets for much of her young adult life.

Born in 1984, Jessica grew up in Portland with her parents. Jessica’s father had severe alcoholism and her mother struggled with methamphetamine use. “I experienced a great deal of trauma and family dysfunction during my childhood,” says Jessica.

Jessica began smoking marijuana, drinking, and using cocaine at the age of 13 and entered her first inpatient 30-day treatment center at 14. But it didn’t stick. She began using heroin and had many older and abusive boyfriends along the way. Jessica bounced around from treatment center to treatment center.

After graduating from a year-long group home program, Jessica married while still in her teens. But as she slipped again into drug use, criminal behavior, and longer periods of incarceration, her marriage fell apart and she was alone again.

At 26, Jessica became pregnant and, despite vowing to never be someone who used while pregnant, she continued to use throughout her pregnancy. She got on methadone towards the end of her pregnancy, had her son, Jeffery, and was clean for two years after.

Jessica went back to school and was on a “good track.” But then she started using again. “I was at the lowest point of my life and had burned all bridges with my loved ones,” explains Jessica. Everything quickly snowballed when Jessica was picked up by the police shortly thereafter. Ultimately, seeing the path she was on and feeling defeated, she agreed to sign custody of her young two-year-old son over to a family member. Jessica found herself living on the streets. “It’s a very unstable feeling to be homeless. You can’t get too far when you don’t have a home,” says Jessica. “Housing is what provides the stability to address all the other needs.”

“It’s a very unstable feeling to be homeless. You can’t get too far when you don’t have a home. Housing is what provides the stability to address all the other needs.”

In 2012, Jessica turned to Central City Concern’s Hooper Detox Center and something finally clicked. From Hooper she joined the Recovery Mentor Program and graduated after four months. “The Mentor Program gave me my life back and my family’s life back. It restored a whole family,” said Jessica.

She and her young son reunited and received further critical family support from Central City Concern’s Letty Owings Center, where she learned parenting skills and grew into a mother who puts family first. At last, she felt safe and secure and ready to pursue an entirely different lifestyle with an altogether different future.

In October of 2013, Jessica got her first job as an on-call janitor at Central City Concern before landing a promotion as an employment specialist. She continued moving forward in her personal and professional life, most recently being hired as a hiring manager at a local company.

“Central City Concern helped me start to believe in myself. They were the only ones willing to give me a chance and offer me the tools to change my life.”

In 2016, Jessica moved out of Central City Concern’s family housing and became a homeowner. Before the end of this year, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business.

“Central City Concern helped me start to believe in myself. They were the only ones willing to give me a chance and offer me the tools to change my life,” says Jessica. Throughout Jessica’s journey, her faith in God has given her strength, and today she’s committed to giving back. “On Sundays after church, my family goes downtown to hand out sandwiches and water to people living outside, because I know how meaningful compassion is for those in need, and for our community as a whole.”

2019 Sandy Anderson Award Winner: A True Listener and Advocate

Dec 12, 2019

Every winter since 2015, members of Central City Concern’s Health Services Advisory Council (HSAC) have gotten together to choose a deserving recipient for the Sandy Anderson Award. The award is a heartfelt recognition given by the group to a CCC staff member who:

  • Is always person-centered in their interactions with consumers.
  • Puts the needs and goals of consumers first.
  • Listens deeply and sees and hears beyond how people might seem on the surface.
  • Is collaborative and solves problems with us instead of for us.
  • Keeps long-term care goals in mind while also meeting people where they are.
  • Can instill hope, no matter what.

This year, HSAC bestowed the award to Leslie Tallyn, CCC’s director of quality. Leslie has been the lead staff member attending HSAC meetings since 2013, walking alongside the group through many changes and new faces within both HSAC and at CCC.

“I’m humbled and deeply touched to receive this award. I admire the other Sandy Anderson Award recipients so much, and being in their company is an honor,” Leslie said.

According to HSAC members, Leslie has been the ideal bridge between CCC’s health care consumers and CCC’s services. With a deep understanding that CCC can only improve our services by acknowledging and responding to our clients’ whole experiences, Leslie has encouraged transparency and honesty. As someone who is deeply embedded in our clinic operations, she is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people at CCC about why we do things the way we do them. And according to HSAC members, there’s no one better at explaining that in terms that all HSAC members can understand.

Leslie doesn’t just take in what she hears. HSAC members commend her for being incredibly proactive about following up on topics that come up during meetings and sharing how clinic staff received and responded to their feedback.

Above all, HSAC shares, Leslie is kind and thoughtful, and she truly listens. For six years, they’ve trusted her to pave the road for consumer-driven changes and improvements. As a clinic that serves a patient population familiar with feeling marginalized or ill-served by the mainstream health care system, finding someone like Leslie — a genuine listener, a supportive advocate and trustworthy collaborator — is worth celebrating.

“Our HSAC members volunteer their time to help improve the quality of care we provide and the experiences of the people we serve,” Leslie shared. “Centering the experiences and voices of consumers is vital to our mission, and I’m grateful to have had the privilege of supporting our HSAC members’ service to CCC over the past six years.”

The list of previous CCC awardees reveals the high honor and regard in which they hold all Sandy Anderson awardees. Sandy Anderson, was CCC’s first pharmacist who became a beacon of kindness and compassion to thousands of OTC patients. She was the first to receive the award named for her; other recipients include Carol Weber, a care team manager who has served our patients for more than 15 years and Old Town Recovery Center psychiatrist Phil Shapiro, whose counseling and guidance around healing has changed countless lives.

There’s no doubt that Leslie fits right in to such esteemed company.

Nine Ways to Support CCC This Holiday Season

Dec 11, 2019

As we enter the thick of the holiday season, lots of people ask how they can support Central City Concern. After all, the season is just as much about giving back as it is getting gifts, and we rely on your support to help our most vulnerable community members find stability, wellness and opportunity.

So we’ve put together a list of all the ways you can support us during the holidays. We hope that you can find at least one channel of generosity that works for you to make a difference in the lives of the people we serve!

Willamette Week’s Give!Guide:
Portland easiest path to year-end giving. Visit CCC’s Give!Guide page to make a gift while earning fun incentives. Give!Guide also has a few Big Give Days remaining: give $10 or more on those days for a chance to win an extra special prize package! Further, CCC also has a number of mouth-watering incentives exclusively for our donors.

Make a one-time gift online:
Make a one-time monetary gift through our secure donation website and know that your donation will make a difference in the lives of people CCC serves. Even a $50 gift can be used to provide shoes for three children in CCC’s family housing program.

Become a recurring donor:
Instead of giving once, set up automatic payments to make a contribution at an interval of your choosing. Recurring donations help us know the support we can count on while you make a difference all year long. Become a recurring donor on our secure donation site.

In-kind Wish List:
People on different parts of their journeys toward stability need different kinds of things. We’ve put together a list of in-kind needs that can benefit our clients, no matter where or how we meet them. We accept most items in new or like-new condition.

Amazon Wish List:
Our Amazon Wish List offers a convenient way to purchase and donate items to meet our current needs. Check it out, purchase some items and have them shipped directly to us.

Many people find Amazon.com to be a convenient way to take care of their shopping. The AmazonSmile program allows you to link your Amazon shopping cart to CCC so that a portion of your Amazon purchases will be donated to us.

Fred Meyer Community Rewards:
Did you know that you can support us while shopping at any Fred Meyer store? All you need to do is link your Fred Meyer Rewards account to CCC. Once it’s linked, Fred Meyer will donate a portion of your spending to CCC! Follow this link, sign into your Fred Meyer account, search for Central City Concern and enroll!

Purchase art:
Two local art exhibits will generously donate a portion of their proceeds to CCC! The Elisabeth Jones Art Center will donate 10% of all sales from their “Artistic Sketchbook II” exhibit of sketches by local artists. Steve Diamond’s “From a Distance” photography exhibit running at Mississippi Avenue Lofts; he will donate 20% of the proceeds from sales.

Giving can always be more than about money or items. CCC volunteers give their time, skills and presence to help our programs do more and do better. Visit our Volunteer page to learn more about our opportunities or submit an interest form.


Central City Concern helps people find the stability of home, as well as a new community to support their goals. Our Housing Choice model allows people to choose the kind of housing based on their personal needs. Learn more »

Health and Recovery

Access to integrated primary and behavioral health care is key to successful recovery. CCC offers exceptional, compassionate care to meet patients' primary care, mental health care and substance use disorder treatment needs. Learn more »


The journey from being homeless to finding a living wage job can be arduous, especially without a guide. CCC's employment programs provide vital supports to those desiring to make progress toward self-sufficiency. Learn more »