‘Center for Domestic Violence Services’ unveiled in Gateway

Find out why federal, county, and city politicians gathered at the dedication of a new facility in outer East Portland …

A big crowd turns out for the official opening of the “Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services” in Gateway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although Multnomah County is responsible for providing social, health, and legal services, the City of Portland has teamed up with the County to create the “Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services”.

Said to be the first of its kind in Oregon, the Gateway Center is a comprehensive, one-stop services center for the Portland area that helps victims of domestic violence and their children receive a variety of services, all under one roof.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman tells why he’s worked diligently to help bring the Gateway Center into existence.

Located at 10305 East Burnside Street, the Gateway Center has been years in the making, according to the City’s point man on the project, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

“Jeff Cogen and I have been working on this for about three years, to bring us from concept to reality,” Saltzman told us at the Center’s dedication on September 8. “Today were pleased we’re at the ‘reality’ stage of his project.”

Establishing this center, Saltzman added, is important – because “People who are victims of domestic violence can get immediate help. For the first time ever, people in East Portland can come and get a restraining order, without having to go downtown to the courthouse. We know, from talking to people, that that can be an intimidating experience.”

Within this building, victims of domestic violence and other disadvantaged people will be able to meet with a judge, via closed circuit TV, to apply for their restraining order.

Judge on call, by video
A special closed-circuit television system was installed at the Gateway Center, we learned. “Restraining order applications via remote video technology”, it’s called, because it connects the person applying for the order, in Gateway, directly to a judge in the downtown County courthouse.

Additional services available at the Gateway Center will include:

  • Crisis intervention and safety planning;
  • Domestic violence needs assessment and advocacy;
  • Department of Human Services self-sufficiency services;
  • Access to specially trained Portland Police;
  • Prosecution services and support;
  • Alcohol/drug and mental health assessment services;
  • Civil legal assistance;
  • Children and teen support services; and
  • Services for victims of human trafficking.

Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen says the Gateway Center is important because domestic violence is “extremely widespread in our community”.

County Chair explains why Center’s opening is ‘good news’
In his remarks to more than a hundred people gathered for the ceremony, Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen said, “This opening of the Gateway Center is truly good news. It wasn’t that long ago when domestic violence was something that wasn’t really talked about. One heard whispered stories of battered women. People allow themselves to believe that that this couldn’t happen to them. We know now that’s just not true.

“Domestic violence is, unfortunately, extremely widespread in our community,” Cogen continued. “During the first four months of this year, there have been more than 1,200 cases of reported domestic violence in the City of Portland. This is a big problem.”

Cogen praised the collaboration, saying the Gateway Center would not have come into existence without it.

“One of the really unfortunate things that happen is that, when times get tough, the need for services from government goes through the roof,” Cogen pointed out. “And, at the same time, the government’s ability to finance such services drops to the floor. The Center would not be opening today – but for a really unusual and fabulous partnership between governments that we’ve rarely done, [one that is] really deep and broad.”

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (left), and U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, both address those attending the Gateway Center’s opening, and praise the collaborative effort that created the facility.

Law enforcement and legal leaders praise center
Sheriff Dan Staton was one of the dignitaries at the opening. “Our office investigates, and follows through, by serving restraining orders,” he said. “And, we’ll be providing security for the facility. It’s important that the victims of domestic violence who need this, can get quick access to the legal system that this facility gives.”

Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk told us that when someone gets a restraining order and prosecutes a domestic case, “We try to be ahead of the curve and stay in front of the situation before violence occurs. Domestic violence is a tragedy; to prevent it – having a center like this is crucial.”

Calling it a “tribute to the collaborative relationship among Multnomah County and its partners,” Portland Police Bureau Chief Michael Reese commented, “This is just another step in the right direction.”

Guest speakers included U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, and U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, both of whom praised the opening of the Gateway Center.

A large gathering of people representing the many public and private partners working with the Gateway Center listen to speakers at the grand opening ceremony.

Service provided in many languages
A variety of culturally-specific advocacy services and professional childcare will also be available daily at the Gateway Center, we learned.

Staff at the Center will be available to speak fluent Hmong, Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Tajik, Swahili, Somali, Vietnamese, and some basic Arabic and American Sign Language. Translation services for other languages will also be made available.

Public partners in the Gateway Center project are the City of Portland, Multnomah County, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, the Portland Police Bureau, and the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Private organizations partnering include Volunteers of America Oregon, LifeWorks Northwest, Bradley Angle, Native American Youth & Family Center, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Catholic Charities El Programa Hispano, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, the YWCA of Greater Portland, Abuse Recovery Ministry & Services, Sexual Assault Resource Center, and the Financial Planning Association of Oregon and SW Washington.

> For more information regarding the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

Eager to snip the ribbon and open the Gateway Center – with our shot blocked by other photographers crowding in to snap their own photo –here are some of the folks who just cut the ribbon.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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