Member Spotlight: Michael

One of the core beliefs at Macdonald Center is that no one deserves to live in isolation. We live out this belief by visiting and creating community with our members. While many members receive volunteers at their homes, for some, a trip down to our Community Room is a better option. Michael, a long-time member at Macdonald Center, visits the Community Room at least twice a week to meet with our student nurses or just enjoy a chat and watch a movie. Read below for a spotlight on Michael.

Q: Where are you from originally? When did you move to Portland? Why did you move here? What do you like about Portland?

A: Originally, I am from Spokane, WA, which is where I was born. I was adopted at four years old, and raised in Wishram, WA, which is a tiny railroad town on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. My late father was a railroad engineer, so he worked on trains that went up and down the Gorge. I moved to Portland in the early 1990’s, and now live in Northwest Portland. I really like how you don’t have to have a car in Portland, and that most things are accessible through public transit. Everything is really close by, and you can walk a lot of places.

Q: How long have you been a Member at Macdonald Center? Why did you join?

A: I started coming to Macdonald Center for money management in 2011. When that program went away, I kept coming back because I liked it here and I can visit with people.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a Member here?

A: I really like the face to face interactions, from the staff, student nurses and other members I get when I come here. It helps with the isolation I sometimes feel when I am home at my house alone. There is a misconception that once someone is housed that they are fine, but really it can be very isolating. People can feel very lonely in their new house if there aren’t many people around they can talk to and they live alone.

Q: What do you like to do for fun? What is your favorite show or sports team?

A: I like to watch sports and play on my computer. I really like to play games because it gives me a chance to chat with people all around the world! Just by chatting with the people I play with I can learn more about other places and cultures.

Q: What do you wish people knew about Macdonald Center and the Old Town community?

A: I want people to know that despite my autism spectrum disorder, I am very likeable and kind. I was diagnosed as having Asperger’s, but not until I was 36. And as for the Macdonald Center, I want people to know that the staff here are decent and kind, and that they do the best they can. I like to say that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get,” just like Forrest Gump. And I really think that the staff here is always doing their best with what they have. A mental health crisis is common here, and the staff is good about dealing with everything.

Macdonald Center's Open House is on June 16th!

Our new community choir will be preforming and it is a great opportunity to see our Center and learn more about the work we are doing.

Enjoy appetizers and refreshments, and stay for a very special announcement!

Date: Thursday, June 16, 2016
Time: 4:30 to 7pm
Location: 121 NW 6th Ave., Portland, OR

Parking: A lot is located across from our Center, on the corner of NW 6th and Couch.

Public transit: Bus lines 4, 8, 9, 35 and 44 stop at NW 5th and Davis. The MAX line stops on 5th Ave. and 6th Ave. at Davis St.

Questions? Contact our Development Coordinator, Maggie Rounds at or 971-202-7447.

Volunteer Spotlight: KayLynn

Here at Macdonald Center, we believe that the health of a community can be measured by how its members care for each other. One of the ways that we live out this belief is to engage volunteers to come to Old Town and visit our members in their homes, with no other agenda than to just offer companionship and community. Drawing from both community and student volunteers, in we visited more than 190 members in 2015.   

Below is a spotlight on one of our newer volunteers, KayLynn. In addition to visiting our members on a regular basis, KayLynn has increased her involvement by assisting our staff with data management and new member intakes.

Q: Where did you grow up and when did you move to Portland? What do you study at school? What are your long-term career goals?

A: I am originally from the small town of Stayton, Oregon. I moved up to Portland in September 2014 to attend Portland State University (PSU), and I will graduate in 2018. Currently, my major is social science which will help me a lot with my long-term career goals. I want to work with people in a non-profit setting since I really enjoy talking and listening to people.

Q: How long have you been volunteering at Macdonald Center? How did you find out about Macdonald Center and what interested you about volunteering here?

A: I have been volunteering here since September of 2015. I learned about volunteering at Macdonald Center through a PSU program, Student Leaders for Service. I wanted to volunteer at a non-profit that focused on people and humanity, so Macdonald Center seemed like a good fit. It has been a really great experience for me because I really enjoy sitting down with people and talking with them. There is a simplicity in the work that Macdonald Center volunteers do that I really admire. Volunteers are there to be themselves, and to be authentic in their relationships with the people they visit. We aren’t there to change anyone, or make them be a certain way. We are there to just talk and offer community.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a volunteer here?

A: I really love everything about being a volunteer at Macdonald Center. The relationships I create with the people I visit are wonderful, and the relationships I am able to create with the other volunteers is also great. I am able to volunteer with people that I normally wouldn’t interact with, given our age difference or that we live in separate parts of Portland. It is rare at a non-profit for volunteers to know each other so well, and have the ability to create bonds with each other. It is really inspiring to see the volunteers talk with each other about the people they visit. It’s like we have this big community and everyone cares about each other. Even if a volunteer doesn’t directly visit a member, they might know them from another building, or through the Center, so people are always asking how members are doing. It is really heart-warming to see!

Q: What do you wish people knew about Macdonald Center and the Old Town community?

A: I wish that people knew that the Old Town neighborhood isn’t that different from their own. I hear a lot of gasps from my friends or classmates when I mention that I volunteer in Old Town. People should know that the people who live down here are exactly like me, or you, or anyone, but they are just in different circumstances. We are all human, but it seems like as a society we forget certain people just because of their situation. But these people are here, they live here and deserve everything that anyone else has.

Macdonald Center Members Sing their Hearts Out with New Community Choir

Many people know the relaxing and energizing feeling that you can get from singing. Whether it is the first thing you do in the morning shower or the last thing you do on your way home from work, the release and relief a person feels from singing out loud is unmistakable. Studies have also found that singing produces feel-good hormones, called endorphins, which help you relax. The deep breathing techniques that are used for singing also can improve the muscle tone in the larynx which helps to calm snoring and improve sleep.
In the past year, we noticed that many of the people we serve could benefit from singing which led us to starting a community choir. The choir is open to people served by Macdonald Center, who are often isolated and suffer from serious health conditions, including mental health and addiction issues. Not only does the choir help our members feel the physical relief of singing, it also creates a safe and supportive environment for members to create deeper connections with each other and participating staff members.
The choir meets once a week, and comprises of 2 sessions throughout the year, with each session running for 15 weeks. Our new choir is led by Crystal Atkins (pictured above in the bottom right) who comes with extensive experience in developing and leading community choirs throughout Portland. We are also excited to have accompanist, Steve Aman, at our rehearsals.
More updates about the choir will be shared in our e-newsletters and on our Facebook page – including upcoming showcase dates!

Member Spotlight: Robert

Member Spotlight: Robert

A core belief at Macdonald Center is that we all share more similarities than differences. To highlight the similarities between us all, we are spotlighting some of our members this year, to show you who you are supporting and advocating for in Old Town and Downtown Portland.

Our third member spotlight is on Robert, a resident at our assisted living facility, Macdonald Residence. Read below to find out more:

Q: Where are you from originally? When did you move to Portland?

A: I was born in Coos Bay, OR but raised in Corning, CA. I have lived in a lot of different places. I was in Montana for 13 years, 8 years in Los Angeles and then I moved to Portland in 2010. I also spent four years in the U.S. Navy, at one of the locations where the movie Top Gun was filmed.

Q: How long have you been a resident at Macdonald Residence? Why did come here?

A: I have been here for about 4 years. I came here because I was really sick. I had 3 seizures in one day, had very low potassium, and was having strokes. I was blacking out and was put into the hospital because I was so sick. I had limited mobility, and had lost a lot of weight because of diabetes. I took a couple of tours of other buildings in the neighborhood, but they didn’t have medical care, kitchens or private bathrooms. When I visited here I was really impressed.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a resident here?

A: The staff here is awesome. They would bend over backwards for any person that lives here. This place seriously saved my life. Without this place, I wouldn’t be here.

Q: What do you like to do for fun? What is your favorite show or sports team?

A: I was really into cars when I was younger and have worked in all sides of construction since I was 16. I have rebuilt every type of car part, except a diesel engine. I even re-built a transmission when I was in 8th grade. I had a 1969 Dodge Charger in high school and I had a need for speed! When I got older, I started working in construction and know how to do just about everything it takes to build a house. I worked in Los Angeles for 8 years installing IKEA kitchens. Now I focus my energy on building desktop computers. I play a lot of games, and I build really intricate computers to play on.

Q: What do you wish people knew about you? Or knew about Macdonald Residence?

A: I wish people knew that this is a really nice place to live. It is really close to everything, and the MAX line is right there. During the summer, we have the park blocks close by which are also really nice.