Welcome to the June edition of our online newsletter. Lots of good stuff is happening at Transition Projects and we're excited to share the news with you. Thank you for subscribing to eBridges and connecting with us.
Working for Recovery
By Doreen Binder, Executive Director
According to some economic forecasts, the economy may be hitting bottom about now, and could be ready to rebound. We certainly hope that's the case, for the current recession has taken a toll on the country, and on Oregon in particular.
Oregon's unemployment rate is now at 12.4 percent, the second highest unemployment rate in the nation behind Michigan, and three percent higher than the national average. Jobs have disappeared at an astonishing rate, and one in six Oregonians is now on food stamps.
At Transition Projects, we witnessed a dramatic increase of people seeking shelter--unlike ever before. From July to December of 2007, an average of 162 men and 88 women were on waiting lists for shelter. Over that same period in 2008, an average of 294 men and 141 women were on our waiting lists. Compared to the prior year, our men's waiting list is at 181 percent and our women's list at 160 percent.
Far more people are coming to us in desperation, struggling to maintain their housing, and their independence. These are people on the verge of eviction, people no longer able to meet their basic needs, people who never thought they would be in this situation. They're like you and me.
Many of them bite their lips as they ask for help--asking maybe for the first time in their lives. But that's why we're here. We're here for those moments of crisis, whether a personal calamity, or a nationwide, indeed a global, catastrophe. We're here to help people bridge the chasm, and to make it home.
This past year we helped 521 formerly homeless individuals achieve permanent housing. We helped 138 households avoid eviction in 2008. We increased the number of showers that we provide, thanks largely to the Portland Business Alliance and its funding of our added hours. We worked with the City of Portland to operate a warming shelter to get people off the streets during the terribly cold winter.
We couldn't do this work without the support of the community--without your support. You have demonstrated your commitment to ensuring that no one has to remain homeless. In the dead of winter, when our roads were impassable due to snow accumulation, our staff walked to work only to find that many of you had somehow managed to bring in more clothes and blankets. Our volunteer meal providers showed up, night after night. You kept giving, even as you worried about the future of your family, and your country. That may be why you gave, actually.
Thank you for working with us toward a recovery for everyone.
Jean's Place Luncheon A Success
Our annual Jean's Place luncheon was a great success.
Keynote speaker Chief Rosie Sizer made the case that Jean's Place is a vital resource for homeless women. Doreen Binder, Executive Director, said "We were so heartened by the turnout. We had a room full of old friends and new friends." Multnomah County Commissioners Deborah Kafoury and Judy Shiprack were among the guests on hand. Board member Bud Clark made a humorous and heartfelt case for supporting Jean's Place.
Thanks to Providence Health and Services who, for the second year running, was the lead sponsor of the luncheon. "Providence's commitment to serving our most vulnerable citizens is extraordinary," Binder said. Providence Oregon's CEO is Russ Danielson, a Transition Projects Board member.
Thanks also to our good friends at our bank, Bank of the West, for being the program sponsor. And thanks to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral for donating the facilities, and to Goose Hollow Gardens for donating the centerpieces.
Jean's Place is in its twelfth year of service. For information on ways to support Jean's Place, please visit us here.
Four Brilliant Ways to Help
Here are four ways that your gift can help people:
1) Provide an essential service that someone needs to maintain their dignity. For instance, $100 will provide 28 people with laundry vouchers. The need for this service is enormous.
2) Help make the transition possible. We focus not just on basic needs but helping people move out of homelessness. Fifty dollars can fund the application fee that gets someone a new apartment.
3) Fund the programs. Jean's Place is an innovative program that helps women end their homelessness. It costs about $1,800 a day to operate.
4) Give hope. Your gift is that hand that reaches out and offers hope to someone in need.
In Their Own Words
Emily Hutchison has been a housing case manager at the Glisan Center for the past year. One of her clients recently sent her the following letter to thank her for her hard work and dedication.
For the record, this wasn't my first time in the shelter. If my memory serves me correctly, it was my fourth time. While each time I've done my best to work the program and have a job, this time it was different - the difference being you. You see, at times I get off track, full of negativity or self-pity, but when I did that in your presence you set me right back on track. You told me, pretty much, to quit my whining and focus on the problem at hand, finding and getting me into long-term housing. I'm not sure if it was your honesty and direct approach that did it, or the fact that I have so much respect for you as a person and I value your input. Whatever it was, it worked.
I want to express my deepest heartfelt gratitude for all you did for me. It was a real pleasure working with you, and the sincerity and professionalism you put into your job was refreshing. Believe me when I tell you that in my fifty-two years, I've dealt with many, many agencies, case workers, advocates, etc. You shine above all of them. I never had to ask twice when I needed anything from you.
Also, I might add, I know you won't get rich doing what you do, so I have to think you want to help people. This letter is to say "good job," thank you so much, and keep up the good work! I'm glad I met you and I'll never forget you or what you've done for me. God bless.