Member Spotlight: John

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Here at Macdonald Center we believe that everyone is deserving of a healthy community, no matter what their past or present may be. We also believe that while many of our members have stories filled with struggle, they are also individuals with families, friends, likes and dislikes. Which is why we are highlighting some of our members this year, to show you who you are supporting and advocating for in Old Town and Downtown Portland.

Our first member spotlight in 2016 is on John, a long-time member of Macdonald Center. Read below to find out more about John!


1) Question: Where are you from originally? When did you move to Portland?

Answer: I am originally from Levittown, Pennsylvania. I grew up there as a kid,     and then moved to Portland when I was little. I grew up in a family with four brothers, and two sisters, so seven kids total. When we moved to Portland, we lived in Northeast Portland, and I graduated from Grant High School. I worked on the maintenance staff for the school districts (Portland, Parkrose and David Douglas) for 7 ½ years.

2) Question: How long have you been a Member at Macdonald Center? Why did you join?

Answer: I’ve been a member for a long time, since 2008. I first became a part of the Center because the staff helped put together a memorial service for my late wife, Marion. We all called her “D” because she was deaf, and I was with her for 20 years. When she passed away, the staff at the Center reached out to me, since we lived at the Biltmore Hotel, and asked if I wanted to have a service for her. We worked together, and it was really nice. Her family came, and a nurse she knew at her doctor’s office.

3) Question: What is your favorite part of being a Member here?

Answer: I really like to come and visit with people and get a cup of coffee. After we had the service for D, I kept coming back to the Center because it helps me get out of the house.

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

Answer: I don’t watch many sports, but I do like TV. I really like Price is Right and justice shows like Unsolved Mysteries.

5) Question: What do you wish people knew about you? Or knew about Macdonald Center?

Answer: I want people to know how nice this place is. It helped me so much with grief and through a tough time. When we had the service for my wife, the staff here helped me make photo albums for myself and her family. It meant a lot to all of us.

"Take Back Your Power"

This month's story comes from one of our student nurses, Ruth. Ruth is currently serving her third rotation with Macdonald Center, through the OHSU I-CAN program. I-CAN is an interdisciplinary project, which brings nursing and medical students together to research and creatively address the complex barriers that those living in the Old Town-Downtown community face when accessing health care. Macdonald Center is one of two sites, including Neighborhood House, working in connection with OHSU on this grant project.

Originally from Canby, Oregon, Ruth’s very first rotation here at Macdonald Center was with Clackamas Community College, where she began her education in nursing. Now, back for her third term, Ruth is focusing on public health leadership, and will graduate in June of 2016 from OHSU.

While serving here at Macdonald Center, Ruth had this to say about her time:

“We all have an innate need to be heard, to be understood, to be valued. So many of us haven’t had the privilege of starting out life with that life affirming attention. But we as nurses have the opportunity and choice to share that with others. So much of nursing is psych-social. It’s the way your approach your day. I will say that in my personal life, the insight that I’ve gotten from others and their “sad” choices has made me much more patient with myself. My heart has been softened to others. This has been a continuum of my learning process that began at Clackamas Community College when I did my clinical rotation in Old Town last January and February. The “ah-ha” moments that began then have had a chance to settle in and become a part of me and how I address life’s upsets.

I had this rock that I found years ago and it said “Take back your power.” There is a long story behind it but the end message is in the acronym:

P: patience and prioritization to put your knowledge into practice

O: open communication and openly admitting when you need the help of others

W: willingness to work with others, to wonder and question, to work outside of the box

E: evaluation and empathy towards the patient and situation

R: recognizing and reflecting on your ever changing role

Power comes from within as well as from outside of ourselves. Nursing is all about integrating the two: empowering our patients so that they can take control of their own lives. At the very core of nursing is this unspoken code: Take back your power.”

Thank you to Ruth and her colleagues for sharing their passion and time with Macdonald Center. We are so grateful to be able to work alongside such committed and compassionate students, who are helping us bring care and connection to the communities of Old Town and Downtown Portland. 

Holiday Parties at Macdonald Center and Macdonald Residence a joyful time!

In December, our community celebrated the holidays with two great parties. We started the festivities with a tree decorating party at Macdonald Residence, with the help of our friends at The Boeing Company. For the last few years, Boeing has helped our Residence members make the lobby into a holiday wonderland, complete with a tree, presents and decorations. Thank you Boeing!

We continued the festivities on Friday, as we hosted a party at the Macdonald Residence and Center for more than 120 of our members. Each person received a personalized present from our donors, so they were able to get exactly what they wanted. Our largest supporter, for this year and many years past, was St. Cecilia's Catholic Church in Beaverton, which provided our members over 120 personalized presents. 

The days were filled with good cheer, laughter and joy as we all celebrated our unique community. It is time like these that remind all of us, staff and members alike, to sit back, relax and revel in the love and community of the holidays! 

Pilot Project Expands Support Services

The mission of Macdonald Center is to nurture the mind, body and spirit of Portland’s most vulnerable adults. We live out this mission through a variety of programs, including weekly in-home visitation, support services and our spiritual support program. To expand our ability to serve the physical needs of our members, Macdonald Center partnered with Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing and launched a new pilot program this past fall.

This new pilot program brought a licensed, registered nurse who is earning her nursing degree at Linfield to Macdonald Center on a weekly basis. We were honored to host Suzanne Sandercock as the first nurse in this program.

During her time here, Suzanne has been instrumental in assisting our members with chronic health issues, such as diabetes and foot care. A large number of our members live with diabetes, which can lead to complications in circulation and subsequent foot issues. In response to this issue, Suzanne worked with our staff to develop an onsite foot care clinic, which we were able to offer to five individuals for the first time. These five members, while they have significant health and foot issues, were never able to receive this service before, due to insurance limitations. A foot clinic such as this dramatically improved the health and well-being of our members. In addition, Suzanne created an easy to understand diet and exercise information sheet for our members so that they can access healthy food options in Old Town and Downtown Portland.

When asked about her time at Macdonald Center, Suzanne said, “As a nursing student, I was drawn to this idea because I am a committed advocate for people as they receive care within the ever-changing healthcare system. This [pilot project] has been a natural extension to the mission of Macdonald Center as it reaches out into the community to provide a safe haven for people who lack continuity in their health care management. I have enjoyed my experience working with the Support Services staff, as it has integrated both my education and community awareness.” 

When asked about the impact her time with Macdonald Center has had on her professional development, she said she has learned that “the individual, or the community member, should be approached and treated holistically. Solutions and plans for their health need to be based on collaboration between community resources, the individual, and the health care representative. My time with Macdonald Center has shown me the importance of this collaboration.”  

Thank you to Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing and Suzanne for helping us to expand the care for the physical needs of our members! 

Community in the Heart of the City

Where do you create community? For many people, community is created in their homes, surrounded by friends and family, over a meal or sharing a movie. But what if you didn’t have a living room, a private kitchen or friends to celebrate with? What if you lived in a neighborhood where places to create community are scarce, as there are no community centers, limited places to worship and an environment of violence and addiction?

In Old Town and Downtown Portland, our members experience this lack of a safe community every day. The majority live in Single Room Occupancy hotels (SROs), which have small rooms, with shared kitchens and bathrooms on each floor. Many of these buildings have inadequate common space, which limits the opportunity for residents to build a community with others. For many of our members, the peace most people feel in their own homes is just a dream.  

That is why we have our Community Room in the heart of Old Town. Community is built through all of our programs and services, including the Community Room where our members have the opportunity to spend time with friends, relax, and receive assistance and advocacy from our Support Services staff. From celebrating birthdays and playing games together to supporting each other in times of crisis, the Community Room is a constant source of support in our members’ lives. Our members have described each other as family, and have said the Community Room is their safe space, where they can come take a break from their everyday stresses.

Our new Jesuit Volunteer Corps Community Liaison, Trey Heffernan, says that the best part of the Community Room is when he sees the connection between the members. Day after day, Trey and all the Macdonald Center staff, see how our safe and healthy space allows for everyone to connect with each other in a supportive environment.

You can be a part of our community! Come and volunteer in the Community Room by providing hospitality and a listening ear – or join our monthly donor program by giving just $10 per month. For $10 per month, you help us provide community and conversation to some of Portland’s most vulnerable adults. Give us a call at 971-202-7447 or go to our giving website to sign up for your monthly donation.