ROSE honors those who help ‘building brighter futures’ at annual breakfast

Find out who the MC – Bill Schonely – introduced, as ROSE Community Development Corporation’s “supporters of the year” from business, government, and the community, right here …

Former Portland Trail Blazers’ play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely was MC for this year’s ROSE Donor Breakfast.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At the annual ROSE Donor Breakfast on September 17 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s Market Café, guests were surprised and delighted to be welcomed by the Portland Trail Blazers’ play-by-play announcer for 28 years, Bill Schonely.

“Schonely always underscored the value of fundamentals,” explained ROSE community organizer Amie Diffenauer, about the selection of this year’s MC. “Providing ‘the fundamentals’ of a successful life: safe, stable and secure housing is our mission at ROSE. We couldn’t think of anyone better than Bill, to help present awards to five organizations and individuals who work to ‘Build Brighter Futures!’ – the theme of this year’s event.”

In his trademark speaking style, Schonely related how ROSE has been a pioneer in providing affordable housing. “They’ve built or rehabilitated 360 homes, including developments for families, seniors and people with disabilities. They provide proven programs that enable children to succeed in school, and child care programs that make life easier for working parents.  Community organizing activities – for example, the Lents Homeownership Initiative – are helping to Revitalize Outer Southeast Portland by guiding first-time homeowners through the process. They are helping people who are trying to move up the economic ladder.”

Nick Sauvie, Executive Director and founder of ROSE CDC, says they’ve survived a difficult year and continue to help folks get decent housing.

Surviving an ‘economic double-whammy’
“We’ve had a year of historic change, in a time of economic disaster,” said Nick Sauvie, Executive Director and founder of ROSE (Revitalize Outer South East), and a lifelong resident of Southeast Portland.

“Especially in the neighborhoods in which we work, the impact has been even greater,” Sauvie continued. “We’re seeing higher levels of unemployment, more foreclosures, and greater stress on families. The economy has been a double whammy; it’s created a greater need than ever – and at the same time, it made resources scarcer.”

Yet, Sauvie said, the organization will continue to provide good housing for modest income people to rent and homes to buy. “To date, ROSE has produced an inventory of over 330 rental and homeownership units. ROSE has also partnered to promote home ownership in our area through our annual East Portland Homeownership Fair.”

Hundreds of people gather in OMSI’s Market Café to support the efforts of ROSE.

Looking over the audience that filled the café, Sauvie acknowledged, “You can see a lot of diversity reflected here in this room. Our census tract has the third largest population of those who speak a language other than English in the state. Having these folks become part of the community is an asset about which we are excited.”

Sauvie thanked the organization’s benefactors and the ROSE board of directors and its staff, as he introduced the keynote speaker, Oregon State Representative Jefferson Smith.

Oregon Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland) says all successful people have a “good place to call home”.

Says ROSE minds what matters
After telling about his background, Oregon Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland) moved into his talk, stating, “Rose Community Development Corporation does what matters, where it matters.”

And what matters, Smith said, is that three quarters of those recently surveyed agreed that hard-working people should be able to afford decent housing – and still have some money left over for groceries and basic necessities. “Three quarters also agreed that to succeed, you need a place to call ‘home’. Three quarters agreed that children deserve a place to call home, to succeed in school and in life.”

Smith lauds ROSE benefactors for “doing what matters, where it matters”.

Students do better in school, Smith opined, when they have a stable residence, with sufficient space to accommodate the needs of the family. “If we want to help people our communities, there are few things more helpful that we can do than make sure that our young people have a clean place to live, from which to leave for school, and to return to, to do their schoolwork.”

Because of poverty, a lack of housing, and challenges in educating a diverse population, Smith said that East Portland is a “place for potential failure, but also a place for tremendous potential opportunity.”

Lauds the ‘Coalition of the Benevolently Irrational’
“Whose job is it to build the public interest?” Smith asked rhetorically. “It’s nobody’s job. It is not one single person’s job to protect the public interest. That’s why it has to be a job for all of us.  That’s why you are so very important. You [here at the meeting] are the ‘Coalition of the Benevolently Irrational’. You are the good people doing good things for no good reason. Without you, democracy is not possible. Whose job is it? It has to be all of our jobs.

“What does it take to make great change?  It requires persistence, calculated insanity, and the belief that others are [also] helping – even if you can’t see them – and even if sometimes they are not willing to help.”

Award presentation

Bill Schonely presents Bill Gander, President of Standard TV & Appliance, the ROSE Outstanding Business Partner award.

Business Partner – Standard TV & Appliance
The award was accepted by company president, Bill Gander. “The house in which I grew up was at SE 52nd Avenue and SE Henry Street, a block away from the ROSE offices. I’ve got a long history in Southeast Portland. Growing up, I recall the stigma of living in the area, now called Brentwood-Darlington – but then, when I was in 8th grade, called ‘Felony Flats’.

“Instilling hope comes from having a home in which are proud to live, living in an apartment you’re not ashamed to call home. For all they do, we appreciate what these organizations like ROSE have done.”

Commissioner Bertha Ferran, Portland Development Commission, accepts the Outstanding Community Partner award from Rep. Smith.

Community Partner – Portland Development Commission
Bertha M. Ferran, PDC Commissioner, accepted the Community Partner award on her bureau’s behalf.

“We’re happy to help people have a decent place to live in the City. In East Portland, it happens because ROSE and the Portland Development Commission work together with each other.”

Bill Schonely presents the ROSE Outstanding Community Leader to David Douglas School District Superintendent – and “East Portland girl” – Barbara Rommel.

Community Leader – Barbara Rommel
The Superintendent of the David Douglas School District, Barbara Rommel, was honored by the organization as their Outstanding Community Leader this year. “I, too, am a Southeast Portland girl,” Rommel began.

Rommel spoke of a conversation she’d had about the notion of the “American Dream” with a fellow student from Thailand, when she was studying for her doctorate. “I defined the American Dream as having what one needs – having enough to eat, a job, owning a home, and creating a life where your children are able to have a better life.  And you prepare them for a better life than what you’ve had.”

The Thai woman thought about what had been said, and replied, “We have the same dream in Thailand.”

“Across the world,” Rommel noted, “these are concepts important to people. As an educator, we want to prepare children to grow up to have a productive, happy, contributing life. It is our pleasure to join with ROSE to help our community achieve the American Dream.”

“Outstanding Community Volunteer” Lisa Wayment accepts her award from Rep. Smith.

Community Volunteer – Lisa Wayment
A resident of a ROSE apartment community in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, Lisa Wayment, was selected for the Community Volunteer award because of the her leadership and dedication to resident programs, and her work on the organization’s board of directors, Sauvie said.

“ROSE helps everyone, I found,” Wayment told the attendees. “The elderly, single mothers, single fathers, single men and women. If you’re low income, ROSE will help you. Then, you will be invited to assist in programs that help other families grow and move up, change their circumstances for the better. This helps make room for the next needy family.

“The help and support and respect that the ROSE staff has given me has helped me grow, and break out of the ‘box’ is that many of us settle into unknowingly.

“During the summer, I worked with the kids at Leander Court. We’re giving these children a safe place to gather. It’s not just their parents that ROSE is helping, it’s the entire family.”

Wayment turned to Sauvie and said, “Thanks, Nick, for starting ROSE. Thank you for your vision, and acting on your vision. You’ve changed my life for the better.”

Flo Barrett accepts the ROSE Cornerstone Award on behalf of her father, Jim Barrett, presented by Rep. Smith.

Cornerstone Award – Jim Barrett
Although ill health prevented him from attending the event, ROSE honored former board member, Jim Barrett, with the Cornerstone Award.

“Every time I would go out into the community,” Sauvie said, “I would see Jim at a different neighborhood meeting or community event. Jim put his heart and soul into this neighborhood.”

Barrett’s daughter, Flo, accepted the award on his behalf. “During his tour of duty with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he helped establish plans to control water. When he retired, he became a tireless volunteer in the community. Thank you, I know he’ll appreciate being recognized.”

Leander Court resident, Florence Wood, tells how ROSE helps her feel pride in her community.

ROSE residence engenders civic pride
Leander Court resident Florence Wood told the group about her family’s struggle to make ends meet, even though both parents work.

“ROSE helps people who don’t make enough money to be financially secure – but who make too much money to get assistance. If it weren’t for ROSE, people like me would fall through the cracks.”

ROSE has helped her family have more than a good, secure place to live, Wood said. “I have pride in where I live. And, I extend that pride to the neighborhood that I live in. And the pride I taken my neighborhood extends further out into southeast Portland and then to the entire city. As more people begin to take pride in ownership of their neighborhoods, we can begin to band together to make the necessary changes and improvements in those neighborhoods that they might need.”

Nick Sauvie looks on, as Bill Schonely presents a floral bouquet to Florence Wood, after she took the podium to make her heart-felt appeal.

That feeling of pride led Wood to help start a 4-H Club at her child’s school – the first such club charted in Multnomah County in past five years, since Multnomah County officially withdrew from the 4-H program. “ROSE has given me the opportunity to feel empowered and proud. I ask you to continue to support them so others have the same chances that I’ve been offered.”

To learn more about the programs offered by ROSE CDC, visit their website: CLICK HERE.

-13 Program participants and award recipients Lisa Wayment (Outstanding Community Volunteer), Bertha Ferran (Outstanding Community Partner), keynote speaker Rep. Jefferson Smith, ROSE Executive Director Nick Sauvie, appeal presenter Florence Wood, MC Bill Schonely, Flo Barrett (Cornerstone Award), Bill Gander (Outstanding Business Partner), and Barbara Rommel (Outstanding Community Leader), all gather for a photo.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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