Get Out the Vote!

Oct 20, 2020

Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is the general election.

You have until October 27 to safely return your ballot by mail, so now is the time to vote. After October 27, be sure to get your ballot to your nearest drop box to make sure it's turned in on time and counted. If you're outside the Portland metro area, use this statewide drop box locator.

CCC's Public Policy Director, Mercedes Elizalde, mailing in her ballot.

CCC believes voting is important, civic involvement and using your voice through voting is critical. Remember to vote the whole ballot. There are many important races and measures for you to consider.

CCC has endorsed two statewide measures on the November ballot. Both are critical to serving our communities:

  • YES on Measure 110 - Drug Treatment and Recovery Act. Measure 110 decriminalizes simple possession of illegal drugs and reallocates some marijuana taxes towards recovery services and treatment. We need a health care approach to health care needs. This is an opportunity to put more funds into recovery services. With the impacts of COVID-19 and the economic downturn, we need to protect and invest in treatment and recovery. 
  • YES on Measure 108 - Yes for a Healthy Future. Measure 108 raises new funds for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) through a dedicated increase in tobacco taxes. OHP is one of the most important safety net services our community has to offer. Keeping OHP financially sound ensures more people can find stability in their health care. OHP is a lifeline in our state, allowing people to access primary care, dental care and behavioral health supports, at a time when health care is needed now more than ever. 

Earlier this month CCC hosted candidate forums for the City of Portland races. You can listen into the candidates discuss homelessness, economic stability, housing and community safety.


If you have not received your ballot, or if you have misplaced it you can get a replacement. Check your Multnomah County Elections Department for details and any other questions you might have to make sure your vote is counted.

Make a PLAN. Be PREPARED. VOTE by November 3!



Mental Illness Awareness Week: “You Come from Kings and Queens”

Oct 08, 2020

We could not let Mental Illness Awareness Week pass by without sharing the story of Central City Concern’s Imani Center. Imani pushes back against stigma, prejudice and inequity to provide culturally responsive treatment for mental health conditions and substance use disorders to Black individuals who need it.

“The historical experience (for Black and African American people) in America – of violence, trauma, enslavement, colonization, dehumanization, oppression – it creates disparities, both in illness and treatment,” said Linda Hudson, Director of African American Services at Imani.

The Imani Center focuses on building community and connection among their clients, starting when they walk through the front door. Artwork and light fill the space, bringing with them cultural and historical healing.

One barrier to effective treatment is a nationwide scarcity of Black mental health providers. “When people go to the doctor, they don’t see anyone who looks like they do. There’s a lack of trust in the medical system,” said Hudson. It's different at Imani, where Black care providers and team members can relate directly to their clients’ backgrounds and treatment is grounded in the African American experience.

“We say, ‘You come from kings and queens in Africa.’ Those are magical words. They lift people up,” Hudson said.

The tight-knit Imani team includes psychiatrists, mental health counselors, addiction counselors and peer support specialists who work together to meet each client’s needs. Through group and individual therapy, the team facilitates healing.

"In mainstream programs, our clients often don’t feel like they’re part of their treatment. They have to put a mask on and conform so they won't be labelled as noncompliant, aggressive, scary. They just try to get through it. But we have a right to be angry. It might seem pathological, but anger can just be a normal reaction to our historical experience,” said Hudson.

During group sessions, now online instead of face-to-face, the Imani team uses evidence-based practices to help people process and talk about their trauma in a safe and supportive space. “It’s loud, it’s passionate. Sometimes you’d think they’re arguing — but they’re not,” Hudson said.

The tight-knit Imani Center team works together to support clients and one another. Pictured here in 2019 are mental health and addiction counselors Walter Bailey (left) and Orlondo Smith (far right). Other team members include Lanetta Garner, Administrative Assistant; Sheri Hamilton, Counselor; Linda Hudson, Director of African American Services; Dr. Christopher Hobart, Psychiatrist; Charlene McCleoud, Counselor; Richard Owens, Peer Support Specialist; and Andre Pruitt, Social Worker. The Imani team mourns the recent loss of team member Charles Bryant Jr.

Hudson remembers a client who came to Imani with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, a substance use disorder and a history of multiple arrests. He was in a desperate place. “After a year of treatment, we just didn’t see that diagnosis in him,” she said. Like many African Americans, the client had likely been misdiagnosed during a mental health crisis. Research has shown that misdiagnosis — especially of schizophrenia — occurs more often for Black people than for other ethnicities, likely due to provider bias or prejudice. An incorrect diagnosis makes it even harder for Black individuals to get the right kind of care.

But at Imani, that client accessed culturally competent support and treatment for his substance use disorder in addition to his mental illness. In group sessions, “he was around his people,” said Hudson. He could share truthfully and be open — perhaps for the first time — and he graduated from the program into a new life.

“Now he has faith in himself. He has faith in his people. He drops by the Center every year and people hang on his every word,” Hudson said.


If you are struggling with a mental health condition, know that You Are Not Alone: please seek help. To learn more about culturally competent mental health services at Central City Concern, call us at 971-361-7888 or walk in at Blackburn Center (12121 E. Burnside) or Old Town Clinic (727 W. Burnside) to get started.



Mental Illness Awareness Week: Manos Abiertas

Oct 07, 2020

“I walked into therapy feeling broken, alone, and defeated. Today, in my last therapy session, I can say that I walk with my head held high, I feel confident, strong and no longer reflect the person who walked into services. I have the skills to manage my mental health and have developed the motivation to be happy with my life.”

 

“Entré en terapia sintiéndome quebrada, sola y derrotada. Hoy, en mi última sesión de terapia, puedo decir que camino con la cabeza en alto, me siento confiada, fuerte y ya no reflejo a la persona que entró en los servicios. Tengo las habilidades para manejar mi salud mental y he desarrollado la motivación para ser feliz con mi vida.

As Mental Illness Awareness Week unfolds, we want to highlight the support and services that Spanish-speaking community members can access at Central City Concern’s Puentes program. Puentes provides mental health services, recovery support and wraparound case management to nearly 300 people each year, many of them first-generation immigrants to the United States.

For non-English speakers or recent immigrants, barriers to care are high — language barriers, legal documentation status, employment status, and prejudice and discrimination can all negatively impact people’s access to care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, those barriers have grown even more — and so have anxiety, depression, trauma and other mental health challenges. At Puentes, the team acts as a bridge to the care people need, regardless of insurance.

But it’s not just structural barriers that keep people in the Latinx community from getting help for a mental illness. Stigmas around mental illness can also make people reluctant to seek care.

Mental health counselor Cesar Ramirez knows that COVID-19 is presenting increased challenges for his clients. “They’re thinking, ‘I can’t get sick: my daughter won’t eat.’” He works with clients on staying centered in the moment and focusing on what they can control, so they don’t get stuck in fear.

“There’s a taboo. People say it’s ‘algo para locos’ – just for crazy people,” said Cesar Ramirez, a mental health counselor at Puentes. Often, people avoid mental health services until they are in crisis.

The team at Puentes works together to build lasting relationships and provide personalized support, so that clients don’t have to be in a dire state before they get help. They provide counseling, recovery support and intensive case management to connect people to housing, health care and other resources. And Puentes team members are bilingual and bicultural, grounding their work in a deep understanding of and respect for their clients’ backgrounds.

“When someone has the strength and courage to come in for help, we want them to know: You are in a safe space. This is your casa. We welcome them with manos abiertas — open arms,” said Cesar.

The bicultural, bilingual Puentes team provides culturally-informed care and support to their Latinx clients. From left: Daniel Garcia, Director of Latino Services; Albert Parramon, Clinical Supervisor; Maide Almeda, Alcohol & Drug Counselor; Cesar Ramirez, Mental Health Provider; Ricardo Verdeguez, Alcohol & Drug Counselor; and Jesus Mendoza, Case Manager. (Not pictured: Nuvia Chavez-Tellez, Ivette Iparraguirre, Marysol Jimenez, Gabriela Lule and Cindy Ross.)

And Puentes is still providing services, despite the ongoing pandemic. The team offers individual and group counseling sessions, in addition to recovery support, online and over the phone. New clients are welcome, and the team has had great success with moving individual and group counseling sessions to the phone or online.

“We want people to know, ‘Si se puede.’ Yes, you can. You can find help. There is light at the end of the tunnel: it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes you need support from community. And we are part of your community, too,” said Albert Parramon, Puentes Clinical Supervisor and a licensed mental health and addiction counselor.


To connect with Puentes, call 503-546-9975 or visit them online for more information.


Ahora mas que nunca necesitamos mas ayuda o apoyo profesional. Puentes es un programa que ofrece servicios de recuperación para las adicciones y de consejería de salud mental para usted o algún ser querido que lo necesite. 

¡Ofrecemos varios tipos de tratamiento y apoyo, de acuerdo con sus necesidades y en suidioma! Para mas información, por favor comuníquese con nosotros. Llámenos al 503-546-9975. ¡Gracias!



Join Us for a Special Virtual Event!

Oct 01, 2020

Please join us on Tuesday, October 20 at 6 p.m. for a conversation about ending homelessness. Central City Concern President and CEO Rachel Solotaroff and Chief Medical Officer Andrew Mendenhall will lead a discussion about how CCC is keeping our doors open during COVID-19, plus how we’re providing real solutions to ending homelessness. Special guest Chief Equity Officer Freda Ceaser will speak on our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization.


Meet Our Speakers

 

Dr. Rachel Solotaroff, MD, MCR, has served as CCC’s President and CEO since 2017, overseeing all aspects of the organization. Rachel began her career at CCC in 2006 as the Medical Director of Old Town Clinic, providing primary care to people experiencing homelessness.


 

Dr. Andrew Mendenhall, MD, joined CCC in 2017 as Senior Medical Director for Substance Use Disorder Services, becoming Chief Medical Officer in 2018. In his role, Andrew oversees all medical and clinical services, as well as promoting ethical and quality care.


 

Freda Ceaser, MSW, serves as CCC’s Chief Equity Officer, providing leadership for CCC’s Diversity Committee. She has been instrumental in CCC’s ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion work, as well as pivoting CCC to becoming an anti-racist organization. She’s been with CCC since 2004.


 

To view the livestream, visit avcast.me/inthistogether at 6 p.m. on October 20 and press "play" on the video. Tech support will be available on the day of the event. Please send questions to margaret.floberg@ccconcern.org.