Lending a Hand

Many outstanding organizations are doing great things in the Pearl. Meet three nonprofits helping to make the neighborhood a better place, and learn how you can get involved.

Alzheimer’s Association


Although it’s a disease that mostly strikes the elderly, the chances are very high that if you live or work in the Pearl, you either know someone who has Alzheimer’s disease, you’re caring for a person who is afflicted by it, or you’re at least connected to a caregiver. Currently, more than 65,000 people in Oregon are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and more than 184,000 family members and friends are providing care.

The mission of the national Alzheimer’s Association is to eliminate the disease through the advancement of research, and to provide support and to advocate for people and families affected by this condition.

“For us in Oregon and Southwest Washington, our largest office is here in the Pearl, on Naito Parkway,” says Tracy Morgan, executive director of the state chapter, which also has smaller offices in Bend, Eugene, Medford, and Salem. The Association’s many
local and regional activities are coordinated by the Pearl office, including support groups for caregivers and those with the disease, education classes for the community, and legislative advocacy.

How you can help

Much work goes into organizing the association’s largest annual fundraising activity, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which comprises six different Oregon walks in late summer and early fall. “With our statewide walks, we’re on target for our first million-dollar walk season in 2018,” says Morgan, adding that the Portland walk, which raised $432,000 this year, is a huge part of that.

It takes a lot of people power to make it all happen. “We have 20 staffers across the state, but we couldn’t do the work we do every day without our volunteers,” says Morgan. “We encourage people to tell us what they’re passionate about so we can put them in the right volunteer spot.”  Besides helping with annual walks and other fundraising, volunteers can present education classes in the community and serve as support group leaders. “We also have a network of 6,000 advocates who call on state and federal legislative officials about our research priorities, or making changes for seniors dealing with Alzheimer’s,” she says.

Central City Concern


Homelessness, addiction, and poverty tend to be closely related issues, and in the Portland metro area, Central City Concern (CCC) has long worked to address all three issues. Begun in 1979, the organization helps people who are homeless or who may become homeless work toward self-sufficiency. This entails providing housing, health care, and access to employment or employment services to some 14,000 people, says Susan Wickstrom, director of marketing and communication.

“We started in Old Town, and that’s where we’re concentrated,” she says. “We have 23 buildings of housing and 13 federally qualified health center sites, and we’re now extending to Southeast, where we’re building a new clinic and housing facility.” CCC also helps connect workers to employers, whether through its Central City Coffee operation or by providing the Portland Business Alliance with workers employed to help keep the city clean.

How you can help

Although the organization employs 900 workers, it also relies on some 300 volunteers. “We have a wide range of ways that people can get involved,” says Wickstrom. “Volunteers can be concierges at our clinics—being a welcoming and friendly face. They can teach computer skills. They can help advise on areas of legislative advocacy. We have on-call administrative volunteers, who help when we have a big mailing, or events volunteers for our big luncheons and company picnic,” she says, listing just a few examples. Additionally, local businesses often arrange group volunteer activities, which might include a gardening project at a housing unit, or putting together moving kits for CCC clients who lack basic household supplies.

During the holidays, CCC runs an “adopt a child” program for youth in its family housing programs. “You receive a child’s holiday wish list, as well as their age and gender,” says Wickstrom. “Individuals or groups can get together and do some fun holiday shopping for that child.” She adds: “Volunteering is very flexible—and you are very much needed.”

Pearl District Neighborhood Association


A neighborhood is more than just a location on a map—it’s also a community of people with common interests and concerns. Members of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association (PDNA) care passionately for this neighborhood—and about matters large and small.

The PDNA operates by a system of committees, each energetically tackling an aspect of community life, says Stan Penkin, president. The Planning and Transportation Committee reviews new real estate development and advocates for neighborhood transportation, safer streets, and public transit. The Emergency Preparedness Committee works with residential and commercial building owners to help prepare for emergencies, such as earthquakes. The Livability and Safety Committee focuses on quality-of-life issues, such as graffiti, trash, and noise pollution.

Perhaps its most visible aspect, the PDNA Foot Patrol, launched about three years ago and ventures out four times a week for about an hour at different times. Clad in bright-yellow vests, “they aim to be the eyes and ears of the community,” says Penkin, who is himself a Foot Patroller. The patrol watches for suspicious or illegal activity, but they aren’t vigilantes. “Our number one rule is no confrontation,” emphasizes Penkin. Members call appropriate authorities if they observe something  untoward. “Foot Patrol have become ambassadors for the neighborhood,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many times people have stopped and thanked us for what we do.”

How you can help

Although it’s not required, many Foot Patrollers pick up trash while on their perambulations. Also, the PDNA is currently working with city officials to hasten the rollout of improved trash cans in greater quantities throughout the Pearl. (In fact, the PDNA raised money to purchase these cans ahead of schedule and is donating them back to the city.) They’ll soon be seeking volunteers for a new, yet-to-be-named patrol, dedicated to picking up litter. To pitch in on this effort or to volunteer in other ways—including the Foot Patrol, providing photos and content to the PDNA website, gardening, or helping Meals on Wheels—contact Penkin at president@pearldistrict.org.

By Alison Stein | Photos (from top) Courtesy the Alzheimer’s Association/Reed Ritchey, Courtesy Central City Concern, by Julie Gustafson

Fantastic Fundraisers

Looking for more ways to get involved? Support these holiday community drives.

The Benson Hotel (bensonhotel.com) has partnered with Human Solutions (humansolutions.org), which serves local families affected by homelessness and poverty. Bring donations of new, unwrapped toys, gift cards, and clothing for infants to kids up to age 17 to the hotel. The collections go to Human Solutions’ Holiday Store, which serves more than 500 children the week before Christmas. Nov 25–Dec 16.

Central City Concern (centralcityconcern.org) is taking in new and gently used warm coats and gloves and HotHands hand warmers to give to Old Town community members. Contact Jerry Boynton (jerry.boynton@ccconcern.org) for details. Through Jan.

EWF Modern (ewfmodern.com) is hosting a holiday raffle, with proceeds benefiting Forest Park Conservancy. The winner receives the Pixo table lamp by Pablo Designs. You can purchase tickets for $5 in the store through Dec 21.

The Eye Studio (the-eyestudio.com) is collecting used eyeglasses in partnership with the Lions Club, which distributes them to lower- and middle-income people in need. Through Dec.

Hampton Inn (hamptonbyhilton.com) is participating in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Stop by and grab a tag from the tree and then bring the gift back to the hotel. Nov 28–Dec 17.

Human Rights Campaign (hrc.org) is collecting clothing and hygiene items through Jan 20. Donation boxes are at the following Pearl locations: Hoyt Realty, Bang & Olufsen, Adam Saffel, State Farm Agency (1018 NW 13th Ave), and Caplan Art Designs.

John Fluevog Shoes held a Funky Fun Fluevog Fundraiser on Nov 4 for Young Musicians & Artists (ymainc.org), a nonprofit that provides Oregon youth unforgettable summer arts and music camp experiences. For every $25 you donate to YMA through December, you receive an entry to win a pair of Fluevogs.

YoYoYogi (yoyoyogi.com) is partnering with New Avenues for Youth with a giving tree in the studio through Dec 14.