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PreServe, and Commissioner Loretta Smith invited 35 of Portland's black community Visionaries for a special healthy soulfood lunch & discussion to help PreServe Coalition identify health access needs and barriers affecting African Americans 55 and older. Here's a summary of their advice:
Question 1: What are the biggest barriers to healthier living for African American Amerians 55 and older in Portland?
You advised us that there is a lack of knowledge about healthy living and access to programs and services that could support healthy living in Portland. Some elders may not wish to seek assistance, sometimes due to fear of giving up their independence or a lack of trust of programs and providers. Community members, and caregivers in particular, need education-not only about healthy lifestyles, but about how to access services that help. Service providers need to be respectful and culturally competent and use language with elders and their families that honors them as valued and competent individuals.
Families need to be encouraged to maintain the tradition of intergenerational care. Many need information on payment for care, including payments to family members as caregivers, and how to provide financial help and protection for seniors. Elders and caregivers need education on medication adherence, and on label literacy so they understand how to take their medicaions appropriately.
Diabetes is a major concern and families and elders need education on diabetes at all stages and to understand the implications that inattention to provider recommendations has on their long-term ability to thrive.
Access to healthy food at reasonable cost was a major concern and suggestions included engaging seniors and their families in gardening, connecting with local farms, and bringing food to convenient, familiar neighborhood locations for easier access.
Question 2: Community engagement and outreach strategies
In response to this question, you advised us to work towards getting information about health out to elders through churches, public service announcements, Twitter, and Radio 1480. We were encouraged to reach out to men who typically don't seek health care. We were advised to get a place on meeting agendas of local health-related groups to introduce our mission and possibly begin collaboration with existing programs.
Question 3: Who else should be involved in the conversation?
As above, you suggested we seek assistance from churches and other community organizations. We were advised to consider looking to other communities, such as the Wisdom of Elders program used in the Native American Community, and Achieve that works on healthy-food initiatives. In summany, the information our Visionaries provided will help us shape our future work as we strive to address community-voiced needs and create programs that engage, educate, and empower older African Americans and their families to live their healthiest lives.
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Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith knows first-hand the value a paying job can have for a teenager.
In 1980, Smith was a job seeking 16-year old living in Michigan. Application after application went nowehre.
Then her English teacher unexpectedly offered a job entering test socres into the offical grade book. Money for the internship. she learned, came from a federal jobs- training program.
"That meant so much to me at the time," she said this week. "It was just a huge opportunity that came along at the perfect time."
Now Smith is offering the same opportunity to others by championing the Summer Youth Connect program at Multnomah County. The program is on track to provide paying summer internships to 100 people ages 16 to 21, double the number who landed similar positions last year and four times as many who participated in the program's 2011 inaugural year.
Ther program is part of a larger public-private effort to find jobs for area youth, who are on the short end of the worst employment rate since the end of World War II.
Only one in four teens who want work this summer will be able to find a job, according to Worksystems, a nonprofit job-training organization focusing on Portland and Multnomah and Washington counties.
For poor teens and students of color, the outlook is even more dismal, with unemployment rates of close to 90 percent, said Heather Ficht, Worksystems' director of youth workforce services.
The program targets underprivileged youth who likely would not find jobs otherwise.
"What we are really doing is growing the next generation of young leaders," Smith said. "And there is no better way to do that than by offering kids the chance to work."
The county isn't alone in efforts to create summer internships for youth. Portland plans to offer 97 internships this year, with Oregon's Department of Human Services offering another 90. TriMet is sponsoring 30 internships. and Washington County and the Port of Portland are offering 14, and nine, respectively.
Here's how the program works:
Worksystems, through its SummerWorks program sends out notices to high school counselors and other community-based organizations to advertise the openings. It then provides job training prior ro placement and screens and matches eligible youth based on their skills and preferences.
Ongoing job coaching is also offered. Worksystems handles and funds all payroll processing, taxes and insurance.
Internships. paying minimum wage, typically last six to nine weeks during the summer for a total of 190 hours of work. An employer sponsorship of $2,000 covers all the wages and other direct costs, while simultaneosly leveraging an addiontal $1,000 per intern in services offered by Worksystems.
"I guarantee you that kids participating in this program are going to find themselves headed in the right direction," Smith said. "I've never seen a gang member doing a drive-by on their way to work."
One significant stumble did occur earlier this year when Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, in one of his first prominent decisions, said he was going to help solve the city's budget shortfall by trimming the $194,000 needed to sponsor 97 internships for at-risk youth.
Smith, alarmed at the move, invited Hales to a one-on-one breakfast.
"I just had to give him an opportunity to really see that this is going to change the lives of so many underserved families," Smith said. "He finally said, after further review and listening to community members, that this is something he just had to put back."
Dana Haynes, Hales' spokesman, confirmed the account.
Looking ahead, the future of the program remains uncertain, given looming money shortages. For now, however, a new batch of interns will soon be working in every county department, from information technology to business services to animal services.
By Dana Tims
Five high school seniors from the ACE Academy in Northeast Portland presented two models of the Sellwood Bridge landslide mitigation at the April 23 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.
The county's Sellwood Bridge project uses this large public works project to teach real world lessons to local K-12 students. The ACE Academy is a charter school for east county students interested in architecture, construction and engineering.
This school year ACE students worked with the Sellwood Bridge project team to study how the project will prevent a historic landslide from damaging the west end of the new bridge. The landslide damaed the old bridge to the point that it needed to be replaced.
One student team built a scale model of the landslide that included a simulated landslide. A second team built a model showing how a series of underground shafts and ground anchors will hold the hillside back.
"You not only did a great job designing your models, you also did a great job explaining this complicated part of our project," Commissioner Deborah Kafoury told the studennts.
Multnomah County will open a new health clinic and pharmacy for southeast Portland residents on Monday, April 22.
The Southeast Health Center, 3653 S.E. Powell Blvd., will now offer primary care, behavioral health, pharmacy, laboratory and other support services in addition to the existing dental clinic at that location.
County leaders including Chair Cogen, Commissioners Deborah Kafoury and Judy Shiprack, and Health Department Director Shirley unveiled the much-improved center at a ribbon-cutting Friday, April 19.
Nine years after budget cuts forced the closure of a primary care clinic at the site, Multnomah County is responding to changes in the Portland area and the health care system. An increasing number of the city’s homeless live in southeast Portland. Nearly one-third of Southeast residents lack health insurance altogether, the Multnomah County Health Department reports. Yet there are few safety net clinics in the area.
“We are here because the neighborhood needs us,’’ said Chair Jeff Cogen.
The new clinic will serve up to 3,000 patients the first year, and up to 6,000 by year three, said Health Department Director Lillian Shirley.
The opening is also the result of a unique collaboration by this region’s health partners. The county was able to shift resources to Southeast Portland because of a partnership with Central City Concern. Central City has welcomed a number of primary care clients downtown, allowing the county to close its Westside Health Center in the McCoy Building and refocus on southeast Portland. (The county will continue to operate the Billi Odegaard Dental Clinic downtown along with the Westside Pharmacy.)
CareOregon, Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health & Services each contributed significantly to the center’s capital costs. Kaiser and Providence also provided support for the first year of operations. Multnomah County provided $800,000 of the $1.7 million renovation.
The county saluted the neighborhood’s rich diversity with a special performance by community members who practice a medley of Tai Chi and swordsmanship and who frequently perform at the Asian Health & Service Center.