When the Speaker spoke, people listened. Celebrate and Support Hope, the first fundraiser for the two-year old Community of Hope shelter, was held at the beautiful North Star Ballroom. Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek (D – 44th Dist. N/NE Portland) congratulated the women’s shelter on its success and held it out as an example of what needs to be done to address Oregon’s homeless crisis.
Preceding Kotek’s talk, an estimated 100 attendees heard from Brandi Tuck, executive director of Portland Homeless Family Solutions. Tuck said the seeds of today’s problem were sown more than thirty years ago when the federal government began cutting funds that had been going to low-income housing and mental health facilities, sending many people to live on the streets. In Multnomah County alone, we are short 23,000 units of affordable housing. In Portland, there are over 800 homeless families with children and shelter for only about 200 of them. The average age of a homeless person is nine years old. Community of Hope helps these children find and keep stable homes. Community of Hope in St. Johns is one of few shelters for homeless women and their children in Multnomah County.
Supported by churches, businesses, and individuals in North Portland, the center can currently provide shelter, classes, mentoring, and community life for only five families at a time. A remodeling project to double capacity is expected to begin construction this summer. Speaker Kotek said the Community of Hope is the kind of community-based effort that works. “This problem is too extensive to leave to any one group. Everyone needs to help… Government, business, the faith community… everyone needs to pitch in.” Also attending the event was City of Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
Community of Hope Program Director Linda Jo Devlaeminck thanked Fritz for her longtime support and spoke to the recent issue regarding the waving of fees. “We have appreciated all the city has done so far to help us,” she said, “and are hoping for even more cooperation between the city and us and other shelters like us.”
In her remarks, Devlaeminck noted how far Community of Hope has come. They began serving one family part time in separate facilities days and nights. They had one staff person and not enough money or volunteers. Now, they have staff to remain open 24/7, are in a single facility, and serve five families at a time. Community support has been positive and widespread, she said.
Devlaeminck also spoke to the power of community support that helps families who live at Community of Hope have a life-changing experience there. It is both the support of fellow residents and staff and the support of the larger community that makes change possible.
Devlaeminck called the fundraiser a success. “We made new friends and enjoyed reconnecting with some old ones,” Devlaeminck said. “Next year, we hope to welcome an even larger crowd.”
Be sure to check out the video of Rebekah’s story! Click here.
Thanks to our sponsors!
Steve and Jo Marie Hansen were silver sponsors