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From July 23 to August 3, the Maya Angelou Community Center buzzed with the sounds of Camp Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL). Every afternoon, campers prepared their own healthy lunches made from farm fresh veggies, tended their new on-site garden, and finished the afternoon with physical activity, from swimming to rock climbing.
HEAL was made possible through a grant from the Portland Timbers Community Fund and support from our wonderful community partners and volunteers from New Seasons Markets, Portland Nursery, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the Portland Farmer’s Market.
The award from the Portland Timbers Community Fund will help encourage physical activity and healthful eating at PCRI’s summer camp.
Look out for a PCRI youth and Resident Coordinator Catherine Mehta on the playing field during halftime at the Timbers’ July 3 match against the San Jose Earthquakes. They will be accepting a $2,000 award to help fund this summer’s Healthy Eating and Living (HEAL) Summer Camp at the Maya Angelou Community Center.
The summer camp is designed to address three significant needs among the youth we serve: educational retention during summer months, physical activity, and knowledge and experience to prepare healthy snacks and meals.
“We know in the community we serve, that there is a high amount of diet-related health issues,” says Julie Madsen, Thriving Families Coordinator to PCRI. “This camp provides an opportunity for young people in our community to understand the impact their choices today make for their health in the future. We are grateful to the PTCF for providing the funds that make this camp possible. If anybody else would like to contribute, we are looking for educators, volunteers, and supplies ranging from food donations, sports equipment, and writing journals.”
PCRI thanks the Portland Timbers Community Fund (PTCF) for its continued dedication to raising awareness for PCRI and strengthening healthy outcomes for youth in the community.
For more information about Camp HEAL or if you’d like to volunteer or donate, please contact Julie Madsen: (503) 288-2923 x122, email@example.com.
Save one dollar, get three dollars. Sounds great, right? We thought so too, so we’re hosting an open house on Tuesday, February 21, to provide information and sign up residents who can benefit from these matched-savings Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). In fact, we have IDAs available for youth, too!
The open house will be at PCRI’s main office (map HERE) on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.
IDA savings can be used for home purchase, home repair, college education and more. In fact, we can help set up an account especially for college savings for adults and youth ages 15+. For more information about IDA guidelines, check out our web page dedicated to Individual Development Accounts or make an appointment to see us on the 21st!
Interested residents should bring with them current and complete proof of income for the last two months as well as information about assets (car, house, savings) and liabilities (loans, mortgage, debt or bills). Not sure exactly how much information or unsure about what paperwork is appropriate? Just give us a call.
This spring, PCRI youth won a grant for their “Teenagers Engaged in Eating Nutritious Snacks” (TEENS) plan to create a healthy snack for other youth. Since receiving the grant (follow the link above for more information about the award), the TEENS team has been working to pinpoint a successful product. Now, PCRI’s youth interns are seeking a baker or chef committed to innovating delicious and healthy fresh-baked goods to make the TEENS product a reality.
Over the past four months, the youth have achieved several milestones: surveyed more than 240 teens regarding a healthy snack and what a healthy snack would taste like; taste tested a large number of snacks to determine the best tasting snack available on the market (blind taste tests pictured at right); and completed research regarding ingredients in existing snacks and options for making those snacks healthier.
The TEENS team is now ready to develop a snack that is similar to the Clif Kid Z Bar but is healthier and perishable. We are looking for a baker who has the ability to take similar ingredients as those found in the Clif Z Bar and take the ideas that resulted from the research, taste testing and surveys and invent a bar the youth can sell to other youth via a pilot project.
PCRI is a community non-profit organization and has a small budget to help pay for supplies for this project. We need someone with the expertise to help develop a recipe for a bar, produce the bar for testing purposes, and, if the bar is received well by community teens, sell the bar to the teens at a wholesale price. The TEENS team in turn will package the bar and sell it to other teens as part of their healthy snack project. There will be several opportunities for public relations on this project.
Are you ready to get cooking on this project – or know someone who is? Please contact Julie, Youth Internship Coordinator, at 503-288-2923.
Nearly three years ago, George, a resident at PCRI’s Park Terrace apartments, delivered fresh greens to Resident Service Coordinator Amber Starks. They may not have known it at the time, but the greens from George’s garden would grow into an opportunity to engage residents throughout PCRI’s community.
Rewind to the winter of 2009-2010 when George delivered his green gift. Inspired by his beautiful, bountiful garden, Amber set out to create a space where all of the Park Terrace residents could grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.
“I thought it would bring out residents who were interested in gardening, who may have had a garden in the past, or were looking to do something different,” Amber said.
The 2010 garden was a bit of a challenge, she admits. While a few residents expressed interest, poor soil in the new garden area and limited time to keep up with it meant weeds were about the only plants that prospered. Amber resolved that 2011 would have a significantly better outcome.
To attract help and involvement from the Park Terrace youth, Amber enlisted artist Dylan “Kauz” Freeman to create a mural. During the fall of 2010, Dylan and the youth brainstormed ideas, made sketches and painted a mural about what a garden meant to them. Their mural now overlooks the Park Terrace garden.
Park Terrace’s property management also joined in to make future gardens a success. Using concrete that had been removed elsewhere on the property, they created raised beds—one for general resident use and one especially for George, upgrading the space in which he had been gardening for years. The Park Terrace landscape maintenance crew added compost to improve the soil as well.
In the spring of 2011, volunteer Alison Coffinbarger applied her garden know-how in conjunction with starts and seeds generously donated by Portland Nursery. Alison provided hands-on instruction for the residents, sharing information about soil preparation, composting, companion planting and more. Every week, she would introduce the residents to two plants and offer tips on how to plant and care for them.
The instruction and extra effort paid off, especially with the cucumbers. Park Terrace’s garden was so flush with cukes, a few of the residents took the bounty door-to-door, offering up their harvest to the resident seniors. Other crops took a while longer (as with most Portland gardens this year, the tomatoes were late to ripen but are now offering their delicious fruit to residents’ kitchens). Still, every planting offered at least a taste for the resident gardeners.
Participation increased as residents saw the harvest in Park Terrace’s community center and got involved in planting and maintaining the garden. In addition, Amber is already planning the fall and winter garden with hardy crops like kale, collards and other greens. She’s also looking even further down the garden rows toward a “planting to plate” experience where residents will learn how to garden and then learn from a chef how to cook what they grow in a variety of ways.
“My goal is also to empower residents to learn about the food they eat, how it grows and where it comes from and lastly how eating healthy can really improve quality of life,” she says. “It is also good to know that residents will have the skills to be able to garden wherever they go.”
Residents interested in participating in a community garden and community members interested in volunteering or donating can contact Amber Starks, Resident Services Coordinator, or Adriana Voss-Andrae, Healthy Foods Access Program Manager.
This spring, the American Leadership Forum of Oregon created a new contest for middle and high school youth called the Oregon Youth in Action Contest. This contest challenges youth to develop innovative projects that promote healthy bodies and healthy communities.
PCRI is exceptionally proud that of the 27 applicant teams, PCRI’s team of youth was one of nine winning entries. Marina, Grant and Tosha’s winning project, “Teenagers Engaged in Eating Nutritious Snacks” (TEENS), received a $2,000 implementation grant which will help the team successfully create a healthy snack.
The TEENS project, sponsored by PCRI, will create an affordable and healthy snack which will be for sale at the Village Market store located in New Columbia. This store was designed to provide healthy food options in the community. Marina, Grant and Tosha will test market and survey community teens, work with a chef to develop the product, design appealing packaging, locate production facilities, produce and distribute the snack and gather opinions of shoppers who buy the product at Village Market.
At the Award Celebration in Salem last week, the trio of PCRI youth and other state-wide team winners met with Oregon State Senator Chip Shields and Governor John Kitzhaber; each team presented their project to the Human Services Committee. PCRI youth presented their project with this ultimate goal: get youth in their community to appreciate and eat wholesome foods, and help create a snack that is both affordable and accessible.
The event, created by Class 24 of the American Leadership Forum of Oregon, was designed around First Lady Michelle Obama’s national campaign called Let’s Move. The Let’s Move campaign’s objective is to engage Americans in raising a healthier generation of kids.
PCRI is thrilled to support the youth in this worthy endeavor. Their talents and creativity are sure to make an impact in the community. For more information about this program, call Julie at 503-281-1778 or email Julie@pcrihome.org.
PCRI has always set out to do more than simply provide affordable rental housing. Our mission of providing housing and associated services for our residents started nearly 20 years ago.
Today, PCRI provides a wide variety of services to help our residents achieve stability and self-sufficiency. Many of our classes, seminars and education take place at our main office, but we continue to provide more plentiful and diverse services and at our three community centers. One of those centers–the spotlight of this post–is Maya Angelou Community Center. Although the Maya Angelou Center previously focused on youth programs, we’ve found increased need for adult programs and have been updating the services available here.
In fact, November brought us our first month of adult services at Maya Angelou, including English classes for non-native speakers, computer tutoring sessions, a resident community meeting, and a book club (not to mention a Thanksgiving potluck!).
Our English classes are designed to provide useful, conversational skills for non-native speakers and are held Monday and Tuesdays (FYI: a similar class tailored for East African immigrants is available at the Margaret Carter Community Center). Interested residents should contact the center to sign up.
For resident bookworms (or those wanting to be), the Book Club will be diving in headfirst, reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Though the club’s first meeting was last week, there’s still opportunity to join. Look for copies of the book at your branch of the Multnomah County Library, where they have both text and audio versions of the book, then contact the center for future meeting dates.
For something a little lighter, we’re offering to snap photos of resident families for holiday cards and gifts. Residents who would like to have family photos taken for the holidays can come into the center for their modeling moment!
Some of the programs that will be returning to the center after the New Year include Financial Fitness classes through the FDIC’s Money Smart computer program, a faith-based Dave Ramsey class, or a bank-sponsored class. Residents should contact the center to let us know which program you’re interested in.
The Maya Angelou Community Center will also begin a Spanish Conversation Group for residents who would like to improve their Spanish language skills. All PCRI residents are invited (as are community members), including native Spanish speakers, who would be great resources for pronunciation and cultural context.
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Shoot us a note or stop with your idea for services and programs!
PCRI announced in June our participation in the Minority Homeowner Assistance Collaborative (MHAC). In September 2010, the Portland Housing Bureau awarded PCRI and our MHAC partners $600,000 in Down Payment Assistance Loans for lower-income Portland families. This down payment assistance is one way the Collaborative is working to assist minority home buyers toward their goals of home ownership. Please read below for an important update on the status of DPAL applications.
Release of the Down Payment Assistance Loan application has been postponed from November 1st to later in the month. The delay is a result of the DPAL program needing to be modified in order to be compatible with current mortgage lending guidelines.
PCRI and MHAC will release the new application as soon as these issues have been resolved and new guildelines have been adopted by the Portland Housing Bureau. The projected release date of the DPAL application is November 15th.
Individuals and families interested in (or with questions about) the program may contact Charles Funches, Homeownership Program Manager, for additional information.
If you follow PCRI on Twitter or you’re our fan on Facebook, you may have already heard that PCRI, as part of the Minority Homeownership Assistance Collaborative (MHAC), has received a $120,000 grant from the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB). The grant enables our collaborative (which also includes the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) and Hacienda CDC) to help North and Northeast Portland homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. It also helps us assist these homeowners with necessary maintenance and legal issues.
Portland Housing Bureau put it this way:
Leaders of the North and Northeast Portland community have witnessed and reported to PHB an ongoing trend of long-standing, low-income homeowners experiencing foreclosure, lost equity and displacement from the community due to a variety of factors that include legal complications like cloudy title and probate issues, preventable foreclosures related to property taxes and Medicaid recovery, predatory lending, and unaffordable home maintenance. Community leaders have indicated that low- and moderate-income homeowners – particularly seniors and members of communities of color – may have challenges accessing existing community programs that could help.
PCRI, in concert with MHAC, applied to Portland Housing Bureau for funding to provide just this sort of outreach and support. Our goal–as well as PHB’s–for this program is to help low-income senior homeowners in the North and Northeast Portland area to retain their homes as well as their equity interest in their homes.
Portland Housing Bureau chose our proposal, saying PCRI and our MHAC partners “demonstrated a long, positive history of working in N/NE, particularly within minority communities and with disadvantaged and at-risk residents.”
With this funding, our collaboration aims to help about 80 homeowners who are at risk for foreclosures. The program will offer senior homeowners in North and Northeast Portland a helping hand to navigate the resources needed to maintain and retain their homes.
“Coalition members have strong ties to the African-American, Latino and Native American communities, and are well-positioned to provide culturally competent services to homeowner elders who may be worried about their homes,” says Margaret Van Vliet, PHB Director. “By combining PCRI, Hacienda CDC, NAYA, and the African American Alliance for Homeownership, MHAC has an extended network of contacts and large amount of trust in the community, as well as a solid infrastructure of programs and staff. We are confident that their relationship-focused approach will effectively mitigate loss of homeownership and displacement in the target neighborhoods.”
When it is up and running, the MHAC program will provide personal assistance to residents to identify their risks, create an action plan, help homeowners communicate with government agencies, banks and other organizations and will provide support to carry out the action plan. Each member of the coalition brings unique and valuable connections to maximize our outreach efforts: community groups, religious organizations, housing partners, senior and community centers and other local agencies and organizations.
“Funding from this grant is crucial in helping some of our most vulnerable community members be able to maintain homeownership and have a legacy to pass to the next generation,” says Deborah Turner, PCRI’s Deputy Director.
The program is expected to be launched in July. Homeowners seeking help may call PCRI at 503-288-2923 and ask for the Homeownership Retention staff.
In addition to funding for this program, Portland Housing Bureau provided much of the information in this post. You can read the original post (and see a great photo of PCRI’s Deborah Turner and Charles Funches) here.
Betty Mason always dreamed big. As a longtime renter and PCRI resident in northeast Portland, Betty (pictured below in front of her home) took the first step in 2007 toward making her dream of homeownership come true. Today, she owns the single-level home of her dreams: close to parks with lots of windows and a big porch like she always wanted.
PCRI’s support for first-time homebuyers like Betty includes education and hands-on guidance as well as partnerships such as the Individual Development Account (IDA) program from VIDA Oregon. VIDA’s matched-savings IDA, helped accelerate Betty’s down payment savings and gave Betty the “ability and hope to be a first time homebuyer.”
Not sure where to begin, Betty trusted PCRI’s expertise and personal approach to support her in buying her first home. She also learned to trust herself. Like many first-time homebuyers, Betty often wondered “what am I doing?”
“For me, it was all faith,” Betty explains. “The opportunity was there and I had all this information and classes and people guiding me. I had to put it into action. I was stepping out on faith.”
Feeling excited, overwhelmed, scared, doubtful and elated, Betty ran the gamut of emotions that come with buying a first home. But PCRI’s Homeownership Program had her back the whole way.
“I can’t imagine buying a house without that support,” she beamed, adding that she was “amazed at how warm people were and how they really cared about you to help you accomplish your goal.”
At closing, her team of support including PCRI Homeownership Program Manager Charles Funches (pictured below on left) and real estate agent Shelly Fullwiley (pictured below, third from left) joined her.
“They changed my perspective to prepare for homeownership,” Betty remarked.
PCRI’s individualized approach and homeownership support don’t end when a new homeowner receives her keys. PCRI’s programs and resources remain available and homebuyers are encouraged to participate in post-purchase education programs.
Referring to her homeownership refererence guide from PCRI, Betty feels confident that she has the tools and support to maintain her home.
“I’m stronger than I thought I was,” Betty reflects. She is also quick to express appreciation for PCRI’s expertise, patience, kindness and desire to empower the community.
“We all need each other to help each other,” she says. “[PCRI] helps someone help themselves and better their lives.”
Betty is one of 12 families PCRI helped become first-time homeowners in 2009. PCRI gives special thanks to VIDA of Oregon for their support as well as helping to share Betty’s story (much of which as been duplicated here).