Working is fulfilling and necessary, but it can also be exhausting. Yet some people are so determined to further their education, they spend their precious free time studying, writing papers and attending classes. On June 30, Central City Concern honored 39 employees who had either earned a scholarship to further their education, or graduated with a degree or certificate this year. The festive event was held in the Old Town Recovery Center’s third floor classroom that staff had decorated with streamers and flowers.
CCC Executive Director Ed Blackburn congratulated the group. “It’s inspiring that those of you who give so much to us don’t forget to lift yourselves up too,” he said. “Reaching your highest potential is a gift to all of us.”
The keynote speaker was Joe McFerrin II, president and CEO of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, an organization that provides education and work training services to youth facing the effects of family instability and homelessness.
“Forgive me for getting a little emotional about success,” he said, “but it’s what I live for.” McFerrin shared ideas for continuous growth, including questioning and pushing yourself throughout your lifetime. “You are all leaders,” he said.
Felecia Padgett, CCC’s Employment Access Center on-call supervisor and recipient of a 2015-16 and 2016-17 CCC Education Assistance program scholarship spoke about her experience. “My fear overpowered everything,” she said. “I didn’t think I could do anything.” But a scholarship helped her gain the confidence she needed to return to college and work toward her Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer Degree. “I learned through CCC that I love to teach,” she says. “I want to get a degree in education.”
Fifteen CCC employees received CCC Education Assistance program scholarships to further their education, and 24 CCC employees were acknowledged for graduating and earning professional certificates or degrees, reaching all the way up to a Doctorate in Nursing Practice for Lydia Bartholow at the Old Town Clinic.
The celebration ended with refreshments, a group photo and hugs all around. As Blackburn told the beaming crowd: “Never stop learning. It keeps you young.”