Monthly Volunteer Spotlight: March 2016 Edition

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March’s Monthly Volunteer Spotlight illuminates the outstanding work of Helen Hotchkiss! Having worked and volunteered in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown for more than 15 years, Helen’s familiarity with our neighborhood and administrative prowess make her an important part of our Employment Access Center’s success.

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Name: Helen Hotchkiss

Position: I’m listed as an administrative assistant volunteer, but I’m doing a lot of document management, reviewing program documents to help ensure that they will pass audits.

How long have you been volunteering with Central City Concern?
It’s been a few years; I think it was 2013. There are new programs coming on so there’s always that learning: a new program, new documentation, what I need to be looking for, what I need to be doing to help the Employment Specialists.

Do you have a history in administrative work?
My history is as an administrative assistant. I’ve written technical manuals, I’ve written policy... I became very good at picking up problems in a system and being able to find solutions for those problems so that the system will work. And that’s what I did here.

I worked for 13-and-a-half years with SERA Architects. When I started with SERA, they were on NW 2nd and NW Davis. Then the office moved up to 5th Ave. [SERA Architects Founder and Central City Concern emeritus board member] Bing Sheldon was the president of the CCC board of directors at the time, and so in my position at SERA Architects I had a lot of contact with people at CCC coming in to talk with him.

Why did you choose to volunteer?
When I retired I knew I wasn’t going to be sitting at home in a rocking chair; my work ethic is just over the top! I filled out online applications to three nonprofits and CCC was the first to call back.

What were your impressions of Central City Concern before you began volunteering here?
I’ve always had very good impressions… a very high level of respect for CCC because SERA Architects did the Richard L. Harris building and has done a number of other buildings for Central City Concern.

What do you enjoy about the Employment Access Center?
There’s a lot of teamwork that goes on here. And people, for the most part, really get along. Egos are left at the door and they’re here for their clients.

What would you most like to tell someone about this organization?
I think CCC has one of the best programs that I have heard about nationwide because they address the whole person. Or they try to as much as the person will let them. From health, to housing, helping them get work, helping them with family situations. You know—the whole thing.

What advice would you give someone who was thinking about volunteering here? I would say, go ahead; do it! I really wish that more people would volunteer for these types of nonprofits and agencies. There are so many things that you can do and the help that you can give is immeasurable. I mean we’re dealing in people’s lives and anything, any skills that you have, can be used.

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If you are interested in learning more about volunteering with Central City Concern’s health and recovery, housing, or employment programs, contact Eric Reynolds, CCC’s Volunteer Manager, at or visit our volunteer webpage today!