Central City Concern

Providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness
and achieving self-sufficiency.

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. 

Central City Bed®

Central City Bed® - unfriendly to bed bugs, stackable, easy to clean and reuse. Appearing at national trade shows. Check Central City Bed for details. Learn more »

We Are Family 2015

Join us on May 6 at We Are Family 2015 to benefit Letty Owings Center and Family Housing programs. Sharon Wood Wortman, Portland's "Bridge Lady," will join us as our featured speaker. Learn more »

Central City Coffee

Through craft roasting coffee in Portland, OR, Central City Coffee supports the clients and mission of Central City Concern. Available at local retailers and as office coffee! Learn more »
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