December 2018 Newsletter

“We have a calling to empower every brother and sister in our community facing hardship and hopelessness. We walk together as an alliance of interfaith communities because we believe doing things together is better than doing them alone. We lead with our hearts and open our minds to understand the causes of poverty and the challenges of escaping it. We work hand-in-hand with families living in poverty by encouraging and supporting them as they move to stability. We boldly advocate for systemic change to help eliminate the root causes of poverty. We know the road is long but we believe as Martin Luther King, Jr. did when he said, “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase."

- Tom Hering


THE “TIME TO GIVE”

by Bonnie Gregg

Once again above the clamor of the holidays, we occasionally hear the cries of the poor, though most of us not personally, but at a safe distance, usually heard on television, from the comfort of our living room, where a log burns in the fireplace, our children play in the other room, cookies bake in the kitchen, a warm cup of tea in hand.   We don’t like to think of families sleeping on the sidewalk, in tents or in their cars, on cold winter nights, particularly during the holidays. 

It doesn’t mix well with our dreams of a “Happy Hanukah” or “Merry Christmas.”  Nevertheless, this is the reality for many without a house in Portland.    When ice makes sidewalks slippery and freezing winds blow, shelters fill up fast.

HOW CAN WE HELP?    

Winter weather will soon be upon us…..SO THE TIME TO GIVE IS NOW!    

Agencies, Shelters, Clothing Centers, and groups such as “Maddie’s Cart”  need    blankets, sleeping bags/pads,  warm  clothes -- particularly coats, sweaters, gloves and scarves, underwear, and socks – “always socks”-- as well as personal hygiene items. 

Food banks and organizations feeding the hungry need canned goods, packaged pasta, cooking oil, peanut butter, beans and rice, etc.

Toy drives need gifts to delight and excite children’s imagination.  Angel trees need gifts to make their wishes come true.

And, we all need “love!”   As we close 2018, let us rejoice in all that binds us as one human family. Let’s hug  each other and help each other. Let us be “joyful” in our giving and “grateful” in our sharing, understanding Earth’s abundance is meant for all.   

Below are two of the many agencies, supported by the Interfaith Alliance on Poverty, now asking for our help.  Call first and then take donations to:

JOIN, 1435 NE 81st Avenue, Suite 100 Portland, OR 97213 Phone: 503-232-2031

Transition Projects Inc., 665 NW Hoyt Street, Portland, OR 97209 Phone: 503-280-4741


December 21 - 5:00-7:00 PM

A Vigil of Remembrance and Solidarity On the Longest Night of the Year and the National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day

Gathering at St Marks Lutheran Church, 5415 SE Powell Blvd.


VIGIL OF REMEMBRANCE

by Sarah Carolus

PLEASE COME TO A VIGIL OF REMEMBRANCE AND SOLIDARITY ON DECEMBER 21st FROM 5 TO 7 PM AT ST. MARK’S LUTHERAN CHURCH TO:

  • Remember those who died outside on Portland streets in the past year.

  • Support the Foster Street Homeless Shelter opening in 2019.

  • Call on Portland leaders to end punitive sweeps and over-policing of the homeless.

  • Commit as a community to equitable access for the homeless of bathrooms, garbage services and safe overnight camping areas.

December 21st is the longest night of the year and also National Homeless Person's Memorial Day.  On this day, we will gather at St. Mark's Lutheran Church at 5415 SE Powell in Portland to walk in a silent vigil to the Foster Street Shelter where the vigil will begin.  Members of four Lutheran churches - Bethlehem, Central, St. Marks and Pilgrim have organized this vigil.


DECEMBER 6th - “1ST THURSDAY INTERFAITH ALLIANCE MEETING  

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 NE Hancock, 12:00-2:00 PM

Featured speakers will be:

Carol Chan, Living Cully Coordinator,  will discuss anti-poverty strategies being developed with partners: Humanity, Hacienda Community Development Corporation (CDC), the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), and Verde together with issues of gentrification.   www.livingcully.org

Carlina Arango,  Verde Landscape Program Manager,  will discuss  the landscaping program and how it benefits members of the community. Individuals who have participated in the Verde Landscape Training Program, will share their experiences.


AGAPE VILLAGE REPORT

By Sarah Carolus

On November 17th, Cascadia Clusters who is a primary builder of Agape Village tiny houses, had a fundraiser and these photos are taken from that event. Since the October Alliance newsletter came out, much work has been done at the Village. Several tiny houses have doors on, roofs completed and sliding done. There are two views from the inside of one of the homes. Also two new structures are currently being built and the walls are up and one roof was partially built when the photos were taken. There is a picture of the Juice Box, a solar power cell which provides light and electricity. This build has involved several congregations in the Interfaith Alliance and is a product of multiple faith groups volunteering. It is located on land of Portland Central Nazarene Church. 


PILOT PROJECT INVITES FAITH ORGANIZATIONS TO HOST VEHICLES WHILE PARTNERING WITH NONPROFIT KNOWN FOR WORK AT KENTON WOMEN’S  VILLAGE

by David Groff

 Sleeping in a vehicle is a growing trend in Multnomah County — a result of the region’s increasingly expensive housing market compared to wages.  Though the 2017 Point in Time Count showed more people sleeping with shelter than without for the first time, some 1,668 people were still counted entirely unsheltered on the night of the count.    Of those sleeping without shelter, 257 people (15.4%) reported sleeping in vehicles. That number increased faster than any other sleeping option for unsheltered neighbors since 2015 – and it comes at the same time as a smaller share of people were counted sleeping on sidewalks.   In response to this situation and in the hope of working more personally with the region’s faith communities on solutions for homelessness, the Joint Office of Homeless Services has launched a 12-month pilot project that invites faith organizations to open their lots to neighbors sleeping in vehicles while working with a proven nonprofit, Catholic Charities, to offer vital service connections. To participate, faith organizations must have approval and participation from their members, appoint a liaison to work with Catholic Charities, and provide space for at least one vehicle and agree to take responsibility for providing trash service and bathroom facilities (portable, if needed).  Catholic Charities will coordinate the effort for faith organizations, helping with logistics such as insurance, community outreach and guest screening. Catholic Charities also will provide referral services as needed — drawing from its experience helping hundreds of people through its housing and street outreach programs, and through the successfully managed Kenton Women’s Village program.


DR. MARTIN TELLS HOW  “WE CAN END THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS IN PORTLAND!”

 by Bonnie Gregg

 The November 1St Thursday Interfaith Alliance Meeting was held at Fremont United Methodist Church.   Pastor Linda Quanstrom welcomed the gathering with a prayer for guidance “in troubled times”, after which Les Wardenaar, introduced guest speaker, Dr. Erin Martin, Columbia District Superintendent of the Oregon/Idaho United Methodist Conference.               Dr. Martin opened her remarks by declaring that, “We can end the housing crisis in Portland!”, asserting that the primary roadblock is “lack of imagination.”   She recommended that churches consider their abundance of resources as well as “gifts of the Holy Spirit” and realize that through their collective efforts, affordable housing can be accomplished.  She reminded them of the early Christian communities, who combined their resources.   She encouraged everyone to “Dream Big”, and consider  “What If… We shared resources?   Sold land?  Re-designed usage? (providing sanctuary plus affordable housing)? Closed declining churches serving less than 30 people?

We need to “show up, educate, speak out,” and raise up leaders, perhaps using MACG as a training model.  

She reviewed the Portsmouth Project, initiated by the United Methodist Church which has made possible the construction of 20 affordable housing units.  It took 3 years from “concept to breaking ground”.  Zoning changes were required.  Attending city hall meetings and getting acquainted with City Commissioners proved helpful. Getting “the right builder” was essential.  They used Rob Justus, of Home Forward, not only because of his skill as a builder but because he limits construction costs.  Financing was critical.  They obtained a $1.9 million loan, using  Portsmouth Union as guarantor, and Beneficial Bank as lender.  As an alternative, she suggested, “investment pools” might be used.  Legal representation was obtained.   

Representatives from the City of Portland revealed that there are ongoing efforts to assist congregations in moving forward with affordable housing initiatives.  A “guide” is now being developed to assist developers.  Re-zoning is under consideration, but at this time, there is no plan to waive fees.  Following Dr. Martin’s presentation, Interfaith Action Teams reported on key strategies for 2018-2019.

  • Sarah Carolus, speaking for Advocacy, indicated they would continue to be engaged in City, State, and neighborhood efforts to work on issues involving zoning, waiver of fees,  legislative initiatives,  affordable housing, gentrification, and  the Hill Block Project.

  • Dave Albertine, speaking for Transition to Stability reported that they are continuing their efforts to support Oak Leaf residents as they return to their renovated mobile park homes.  They also intend to become involved as a support group with the residents of Agape Village, and other tiny home communities.  

  • Holly Schmidt, speaking for the Poverty Awareness & Communication Action Team, indicated  they will be continuing their work  to  increase poverty awareness among congregations and develop programs/events to educate/inform community regarding issues of poverty during the coming year.

  • Rae Richen, explained how the Involvement of Neighborhood Initiatives plans  to expand horizons particularly as they relate to the intersection of  racial and economic issues.  People need to become engaged,  talk about the impact of gentrification, involve African American and Latino  congregations,  focus on social justice, etc. in order to effect systemic changes.


WALNUT PARK -   NEW NORTH PORTLAND HOMELESS SHELTER

 Walnut Park Shelter, Portland's newest homeless shelter , will offer overnight sleeping accommodations on a reservation and referral basis to men, women and couples over the age of 18 — with a special focus on veterans, people with disabilities and those age 55 or older.  It   is located at 5329 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at the corner of Killingsworth Street in the King neighborhood. 

Walnut Park will not regularly serve meals or offer many services onsite besides bunk beds. Residents will have access to coffee, tea, books and boards games and will have space to store their belongings during the day. Bathrooms and basic hygiene supplies will also be provided. Pets are allowed.  The building is owned by Multnomah County and also contains the Northeast Health Center and dental clinic. Multnomah County and the City of Portland are funding the shelter via the Joint Office of Homeless Serviceshttps://pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/411166-311314-new-homeless-shelter-to-open-on-mlk-by-.

TRANSITION PROJECTS “MEAL PROVIDER PROGRAM FOR SHELTERS”

Transition Projects has established a program whereby Volunteer Groups provide dinner 365 days of the year to their Short-Term Residential and Shelter Programs.  

WHAT MEALS GROUPS DO:

Meal Provider Groups typically consist of 4-10 people who have joined together as friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow parishioners, or other types of service groups. Each group purchases, prepares, and serves dinner for 60 - 125 residents at one of Transition Projects’ seven shelters. 

WHO MEAL GROUPS SERVE:

Clark Center: 1431 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 90-bed short-term residential program for men.  Has a small commercial kitchen available for preparing a meal, including a grill top, large gas stove and oven, and a convection oven. Kitchen is stocked with all the pots and pans you should need to cook, and with trays, bowls, utensils etc. for all the residents. Has a steam table and service window.  Welcomes minors ages 8+ with advance notice. 

Jean’s Place: 18 NE 11th Avenue.  60-bed short-term residential program for women.  Has a home-style kitchen available for preparing the meal, including two standard stoves/ovens.  Kitchen is stocked with all the pots and pans you should need to cook, and with plates, bowls, utensils etc. for all the residents.  There is no formal service area, but there is an island for service.  Welcomes minors ages 8+ with advance notice.

 Doreen’s Place: 665 NW Hoyt St.  90-bed short-term residential program for men.  Has a large commercial kitchen available for preparing the meal.

Willamette Center: 5120 SE Milwaukie Ave.  120-bed emergency shelter for women and couples.  Has a large home-style kitchen available for preparing the meal, including two countertop stovetops, and two ovens.  Kitchen is stocked with all the pots and pans you should need to cook, and with plates, bowls, utensils, etc. for the residents.  There is a long counter that doubles as service area.  Welcomes minors ages 12 and up with advance notice. 

SOS Shelter: 435 NW Glisan St.  70-bed emergency shelter for women.  No kitchen facilities – meals must be prepared off-site.  No dishes – groups must bring disposable service items.  No minors allowed at this site. 

Columbia Shelter: 421 SW 5th Ave. in the Mead bldg.  75-bed emergency shelter for women.  No kitchen facilities – meals must be prepared off-site.  No dishes – groups must bring disposable service items.  Opens at 7pm; hot meals can be dropped off then.  No minors allowed at this site 

Wy’East Shelter: 1415 SE 122nd Ave.  125-bed emergency shelter for men.  Has no kitchen facilities – meals must be prepared off-site.  No dishes – groups must bring disposable service items.  No minors allowed at this site. 

Walnut Park Shelter  80-bed emergency shelter for men, women and couples  No kitchen facilities or dishes – groups should prepare off-site and bring disposable service items


ANSWERS TO MEAL GROUP VOLUNTEER QUESTIONS:

Does my group need a Food Handler card? No, Meal Providers are not required to have Food Handler certifications. Each group is required to purchase and use sanitary hand gloves for preparing, cooking, and serving the meals. Hair should be pulled back and surfaces should be kept clean. Ask staff if the kitchen is out of required supplies. 

How does a Meal Provider group reserve a date? Contact the Volunteer Coordinator in Transition Projects’ Development Department to ask about date availability. We ask that you plan 1 month ahead to ensure your group gets the date(s) you want and to ensure we have plenty of time to confirm details with you.  For November and December meals, especially around and on the holidays, it is best to check 6-8 weeks in advance. 

How often do Meal Providers serve?  Many groups serve regularly, such as the 3rd Tuesday of every month, while others serve quarterly or every six months.  We suggest you/your group try one or two dates before committing to regular monthly service. How much does providing a meal cost?  Depending on the type of meal you are preparing and the number of people at the shelter, purchased items can cost $150 - $300.  Ways to bring food costs down: o Buying items in bulk at stores such as Costco and Cash-n-Carry. Cash-n-Carry has sales every 3 weeks and posts their upcoming deals online. Reach out to local stores for in-kind donations and special deals. Some Meal Provider groups work with store managers to buy items while they are on sale (for example, chicken at $0.49/lb.) and then store them until the group is going to prepare their meal. o Fundraising in your community to offset some or all expenses. The Volunteer Coordinator can provide tips on fundraising and also provide request and acknowledgment letters for donations. Please ask the Volunteer Coordinator for assistance

What meal should my group make?  As this may be the only wholesome meal our participants receive that day, Meal Providers are asked to provide a “complete” meal, with protein, starch, and vegetables. Check our website for recipes.  Groups are to provide a vegetarian option (a few plates set aside is great) for those who choose not to each meat. You are welcome to provide drinks (milk, 100% juice, etc.) or dessert if they choose. Please note that we have water, coffee, tea, and cocoa available for residents.  Many of the residents are recovering from substance addiction, so it is very important that the meals do not contain any kind of alcohol. Even just a little bit of cooking wine can be detrimental to a resident’s sobriety. Can Meal Providers make dinner at the facility?

  Meal Providers may prepare the meal off-site or in the facility's kitchen – Clark Center and Doreen’s Place have industrial kitchens, while Jean’s Place and Willamette Center have home-style kitchens.  The kitchens are available for your use from 2 - 7pm.  If you make dinner off site, please clear this with the Volunteer Coordinator first. Kitchens must be clean and food must be kept properly refrigerated before the meal (you cannot bring leftovers from an event or catered meal). 

Are there ingredients at the facility we can use? Meal Providers are welcome to use basic condiments available in the kitchens, such as spices and oils, though we do not always have an abundant supply. Please plan accordingly.  Meal Providers are not allowed to use pantry items, such as canned goods, or items in the refrigerator unless the manager and staff explicitly tell you it is . This is Food Bank food that is saved for days we do not have volunteer meal providers. 

Do we need to bring our own cooking tools?  The kitchens are equipped with most basic items, such as pots, pans, and cooking utensils; however, they are not always in the best condition. Knives are dulled for safety purposes.  If your meal requires the use of specialized utensils, sharp knives, or specialty equipment, we recommend that you bring your own. 

May I tour the kitchen prior to my group’s first meal preparation?  Of course! Please contact the Volunteer Coordinator to arrange a tour of the facility kitchen for you and anyone in your group who wishes to join you. 

When should my group arrive?  Dinner is served between 6:30pm and 7:00pm depending on the facility (check last page for details)  Most providers arrive by 5:00pm to begin prepping if they are cooking on-site.  Groups may arrive as early as needed to cook the meal or to setup to serve. The kitchen is available 2-7pm, but please let the Volunteer Coordinator know if you will be arriving before 5pm. The program residents will clean up the kitchen after you prep and serve, but any wiping down of counters and rinsing of dishes you can do while cooking is always helpful. 

What is the serving protocol? Food is served by your group cafeteria-style. The residents will line up and your group’s servers will ask each resident what they want. A tray is passed down the line of volunteer Meal Providers serving to fill with the meal items. Residents are not allowed to serve themselves, to ensure everyone gets equal food access.  Residents are welcome to have leftovers if you have enough food.  

During our group’s meal, who do I go to if I have questions about the kitchen?  The staff, our Residential Advocates (RA’s), on duty will be happy to assist you with questions. Given dinner is the busiest time for them, they are not available to help you prepare or serve meals. 

Can we spend time with the residents? Absolutely! Your group is welcome to sit and eat with the residents during the dinner hour. Please remember that residents will notice if you show favoritism toward one or two residents each time you visit; remember to treat everyone with equal kindness and respect. ï Groups are asked to leave prior to the residents’ chore time (usually 8pm).   For more information about boundaries with program participants, please see the following section, Boundaries & Ethics. 

Are we responsible for cleaning up?  No, groups providing meals do not have to clean up the kitchen. As part of their chores, the facility’s residents are responsible for cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. 

If I lose a valuable item at the facility, can you reimburse me for it? Volunteers are responsible for their property while at Transition Projects’ facilities.  Unfortunately, we cannot replace or reimburse you for any lost items. We advise leaving valuables and other belongings at home or locked in your vehicle

What if my group needs to cancel? Things come up and sometimes groups are unable to fulfill their commitment. If you know at least one business day in advance that your group needs to cancel, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator in Transition Projects’ Development Department by phone and email.  IMPORTANT: If you need to cancel with less than one business days’ notice, please contact the facility you are scheduled at and speak with the Manager, or the Residential Advocate on duty if the Manager is not available. Be sure to send the Volunteer Coordinator an email so they are also in the loop. 

What happens with leftovers? Leftovers are wonderful, and never go to waste! If there are leftovers, they will be pulled out for breakfast or lunch the following day. Why was the number of residents who came to dinner lower than expected?  We ask you to please bring, at minimum, enough food for each person in the shelter (60-90 people, depending on the shelter). This does not mean every resident will be present when you are serving. Since some folks are on different sleep or work schedules, the amount of people you see when you serve dinner can fluctuate. Please know those residents you don’t see do eat after you leave, and will pull their late plates or other leftovers out of the fridge. 

My group has noticed that the facility is always low on or out of certain items. Can we bring some for our meal and leave them in the kitchen for other groups to use?  Yes! We greatly appreciate in-kind donations of cooking ingredients and tools. Items most needed are salt, spices, oils, saran wrap, aluminum foil, knives, and large pots and pans. If you let the facility’s RA’s know you have donated these items, they will gladly provide you with a donation receipt. 

WHO TO CONTACT:   To reserve a meal date, receive more details, or cancel at least one (1) business day in advance, please contact: Emily Coleman | Volunteer Coordinator emily.coleman@tprojects.org | 503.488.7745 | www.tprojects.org Available Monday through Friday, 8am to 4pm


JEFF BEZO  (Amazon Founder)  DONATES  “$5 MILLION” TO JOIN TO HELP HOMELESS FAMILIES

 Excerpts from Amy Templeton, OPB article, submitted by Fraser Rasmussen

 JOIN advises that the Bezo donation of $5 Million Dollars is the largest gift they have received from an individual donor.  Shanon Singleton, JOIN’s executive director says  “The timing was perfect, because we just added outreach workers specifically to serve families and find folks who are in cars or in tents on the street.” She added “the grant will help families with rent and other urgent expenses like moving costs and child care”.  Join also intends to use some of the funding to help homeless parents find better job opportunities, by paying for training, internships, or apprenticeships and partnering with local jobs with wages that will cover rent.


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR CASH OREGON

FREE, IRS-CERTIFIED TAX PREPARATION SERVICE  

If you want to fight poverty in Oregon and become part of the nation’s largest anti-poverty program, join the Cash Oregon  Tax Preparation Team. You will be given ”free training” 

Why is Free Tax Preparation so Important?    

Last year, in the Tri-County (Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington) area alone, 656 IRS certified volunteers helped 19,535 Oregon families file taxes to build stronger, resilient, communities. This translates to money back into the pockets of hard-working individuals, struggling families and cash registers of local businesses. The average Earned Income Tax Credit was $1,768. These efforts stimulate the Oregon economy and uplift the underserved communities to reach their financial goals.  It provides an opportunity to assist those who are most likely to overlook their eligibility including the elderly, workers with disabilities, grandparents raising children, English language learners, and more.

Within taxes exists the largest anti-poverty program in the nation. Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit lifted an estimated 10.1 million people out of poverty, including 5.3 million children.  Unfortunately, only three out of four eligible Oregonians claim these credits.  It is a reliable resource that can steer the most vulnerable away from predatory lenders selling high-cost loans advertised as “fast refunds” resulting in even less money in their pockets. Accurate returns are critical to life’s major milestones including mortgages, loans, college financial aid, and even citizenship. These efforts help the community have access to the financial mainstream and asset building. Unfortunately, community members were turned away as there were not enough volunteers to keep up with the demand. Help is needed!

CASH Volunteer Positions 

Tax Return Preparers -- Client Facilitators – Interpreters -- Administrative Help

CASH Oregon is seeking volunteers who wish to make a difference in their community. You can choose from different roles, such as: Tax Return Preparers, Client Facilitators, Interpreters (Arabic, Cantonese, Korean, Farsi, French, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, among others) and Administrative helpers, for the AARP Foundation Tax Aide Program.  No experience is necessary.  Free training provided!  https://cashoregon.org/volunteer  


Bonnie Gregg