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.  

The Best Day of Our Year!

What do you get when you combine the beautiful nature of Mt. Hood, two buses full of people and more than 25 volunteers? Our annual Wildwood Adventure!

This year, Macdonald Center staff and volunteers put together a fun-filled day for more than 100 of our community members so that they could enjoy the wondrous Oregon summer. For many of our members, who have limited resources and rely on public transportation, a trip up to the Mt. Hood Wildwood Recreation area is like a day at summer camp. Complete with lunch, s’mores, games and a raffle, this special excursion each year gives our members the chance to relax, enjoy each other’s company and breathe in the fresh air, away from the hustle of Downtown Portland.  

For our community member Kevin, pictured above, the trip to Mt. Hood was something he was looking forward to for weeks. Having never been before, but hearing great things about the trip, Kevin was most excited to see the nature that was in the area. Once he was finally up there, he said he could hear so many birds on the nature walk he took with our staff and volunteers. When asked if he would go again, Kevin said, “It was a really fun trip, with nice people. It was nice to hear all the nature sounds and to be able to talk and eat with all the people. I am excited to go again next year!”

Pictured with Kevin, is one of our stellar volunteers, Janet Packer. Janet came to Macdonald Center through an internship with Clackamas Community College. Janet has been volunteering with us since January 2015 and provides extra support in our community room, by creating a welcoming atmosphere for members, providing them with a warm cup of coffee and a listening ear.

When asked to describe Macdonald Center in three words, Janet said she would use community, inclusivity and resilience. Janet says one the most special things to see at Macdonald Center is how strong the sense of community is between the members. Every day, she sees our members taking care of each other in the community room, by helping each other to get around in their wheelchairs or listening to each other’s struggles and celebrations. This sense of community has been extended to her as well, as our members have included her in the community from day one. She believes that this is a truly an inclusive community, that respects and accepts everyone, regardless of their past or present. For Janet, the other great part of her volunteer work here is the resilience of our members that she witnesses every day. To her, it is amazing that despite some of the hardships our members face, they still visit the Center and leave with a smile.

Through her volunteering experience with us, Janet plans to pursue a career in working with and advocating for vulnerable populations. It is volunteers like Janet, and members like Kevin, that remind us that we all have more similarities than differences.

If you would like to volunteer in our community room, or become a home visitation volunteer, click here to learn more! 

A New Home for Don

For the majority of our members, living in a single room occupancy hotel (SRO) is an isolating experience. These housing options are some of the least desirable in Portland. Many SRO hotels have small, hot rooms with shared bathrooms and kitchens down the hall. These residences are paid for weekly or monthly, which creates a community of isolation and transition. What happens when someone wants to move out of these places, but their options are limited, because their income is way below what is needed to move somewhere else. Where do they go and how do they find a new place to call home?    

This situation is a very common among our members, including Don. Don is a Portland native who served in the Marine Corps for six years. Don also enjoys writing and annually participates in the Write Around Portland program hosted at Macdonald Center. Don has been a member of Macdonald Center since 2001 and has been receiving supportive services from Macdonald Center, including health care management and weekly grocery shopping. A long time Old Town resident, Don has lived in a number of SROs. After many years of living in such rooms, Don was ready for a change; but with a limited income and little knowledge of the housing system, he needed extra help.

In early 2015, Don was referred to the HUB program, a new, innovative Multnomah County program that partners with Macdonald Center to better care for our city’s most vulnerable populations. The partnership officially began in the fall of 2014 and will continue for a total of 18 months. The goals of the partnership are multi-faceted and include; stabilizing health and housing for participants; supporting participation with a primary care provider; encouraging engagement with some form of mental health and/or behavior health treatment; encouraging social/community engagement; reducing utilization of crisis/emergency and in-patient resources in the community; and improving cross-system coordination and collaboration for the benefit of participants. Overall, the program’s aim is to help our members be less isolated, increase their overall health and assist them in navigating the multitude of systems, including health care and housing.  Don met the criteria to be a part of the program and his current case workers at Macdonald Center began to work as a team with HUB to find him better housing.

Don is now settling into his new one bedroom apartment just a few blocks away from his last place. He was also given a voucher to another Macdonald Center partner, Community Warehouse, where he was able to pick out new furniture and necessities. In contrast to Don’s last place, that had little light and no space, Don now lives on the ground floor, right by a small atrium space that provides valuable daylight. A large and unusual antique boat hangs from the ceiling like a chandelier in the middle of the atrium. Don’s one bedroom apartment is spacious. There are high ceilings with ceiling fans to keep the room comfortable. The beautiful hardwood floors have been restored and there are new appliances, including a dishwasher. When asked about his new home, Don smiles from ear-to-ear. He says, “This place is so nice compared to the last few places I have been. It feels so nice to have my own private and quiet place!”

Macdonald Center is pleased to work together with our partners in the HUB project—especially when we see such wonderful outcomes for our members like Don.

Project Impact PDX: We have a lot of heart – but how do we measure it?

Macdonald Center is pleased to announce its participation in Project Impact PDX, a comprehensive program through which we are developing evaluation tools to help us more fully measure the impact our visitation and outreach program has on the lives of our members.  The project was introduced by the Nonprofit Organization of Oregon and taught by Steve Patty PhD, a nationally recognized expert in helping nonprofit organizations develop tools to measure the impact of their work. Through this effort we hope to better understand the ways Macdonald Center touches the lives of its members and the ways in which we can make our efforts even more effective. 

For the past 6 months, our staff, along with Board Member, Amber Holt, and a long-time volunteer, have created questionnaires and parameters that help us measure the interactions, connection and support that our volunteers provide to our Members during weekly visitation. Through Project Impact, our team created the following categories to measure: social engagement, relational connectedness, resilience and greater sense of self-worth. 

Along with other Macdonald Center volunteers, our staff will be asking 20 of our long-term Members to take part in these interviews. In the end, our goal is to be able to see how our services have impacted the people we serve, which in the end will help us to remain responsible to the work we are doing. Our hope is that this endeavor will not only help us measure our impact, but also give us the tools and information to move forward in the best way possible, and will allow us to tailor our services to best meet the needs of our members and community.