‘Care Fest’ builds community connections

Discover all that was offered at this year’s “Community Care Festival” held in outer East Portland …

In the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization gym, situated in the Hazelwood neighborhood, exhibitors provide information to visitors to this year’s Community Care Festival.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Again this year, within the Sokhom Tauch Community Center, and also under canopies on the grounds at the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), the Community Care Festival drew many visitors on July 22.

The first such event was held at the Rosewood Initiative Community Center back in the fall of 2015.

With the festival underway, co-organizers Layla Assem and Debbie Gordon say they’re pleased with this year’s event.

“Last year’s festival was here at IRCO in May; and this year, we’re holding our first summer festival,” said event co-organizer Layla Assem as visitors were arriving for the day.

Volunteers from dozens of organizations provided information, gave samples, entertained the guests, and offered activities for children.

Milla Carlos is having her face painted by makeup artist Jenny Jo.

Representing both the East Portland Action Plan and the East Portland Neighborhood Office is Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Chair Arlene Kimura.

The festival was begun and has been sustained by a group of people in outer Southeast Portland who had the belief that there’s a need to get people together from different cultures, Assem told East Portland News. “A map of the world is being filled with stickers showing from where our guests’ families have come,” she said.

With the help of the “First Student” bus company, residents of centers such as Foster Family Care Network, Shepherd’s Door, Hansen Transition Center, and Human Solutions Family Center were all transported to the fair so they could avail themselves of the many social and medical services offered.

Volunteers preparing food are Bob Fordham, Jacob Fordham, and Laurel Hess.

Volunteer Warren Heathman with the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation Mobile Health Screening Program provides an eye screening for a shelter resident.

A man visiting the festival, currently living in a homeless shelter, was smiling and admiring a pair of glasses just given to him, after having his eyes tested by an Oregon Lions Club volunteer. “This is the first eye test I’ve ever had – and more than that, they gave me these glasses, which help me see well for the first time in years!” he said.

Assem said she felt excited and happy, seeing this year’s fair come together. “We hope people take away from our Community Care Festival good, useful information, a meal, and most importantly, the feeling of belonging,” she said.

Internationally renowned Parkrose-based sculptor Jim Gion demonstrates his skill.

Free books for kids are provided by SMART (“Start Making A Reader Today”) coordinator Michelle Gilmore.

This year’s event was made possible, in part, by funding from a $5,000 East Portland Action Plan grant.

Find out more about this all-volunteer effort by visiting their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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