Parkrose Educational Association raises funds, and hopes, for homeless teens

See why the “third time’s a charm” for this event that raises money to “fill in the funding gaps” in the school district’s funding ‚Ķ

Checking into the event is Michael Taylor, Superintendent, Parkrose School District.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Looking ahead to the time when money from the Multnomah County I-Tax would dry up, the Parkrose Educational Foundation had an idea two years ago: Create an event that would generate money to support programs of the school district.

To “try out” the concept, the first two events ‚Äì an auction and dinner ‚Äì were held at Parkrose High.

But this year’s event, held on May 13, was definitely an upscale shindig; it was held at the Holiday Inn at the Portland Airport, and it included a full dinner ‚Äì from salad to desserts ‚Äì and a silent and live auction.

Allison Newman-Woods, the chair of the event, told us 150 people attended, and snapped up 140 donated items during the event.

Third time a charm
“The need to augment funds to ‘fill in the holes’ is the mission of the foundation,” John Dipasquale, president of Parkrose Educational Foundation, told us at the event. “It looks like people are having a good time. It’s important they tell their friends about the good time they had and will bring them next year. We hope to raise $10,000.”

About 150 people came to enjoy the third Auction and Dinner benefiting the Parkrose Educational Foundation.

When the counting was done, the school district’s Mary Larson told us, “The third time was a charm; we raised nearly $22,000.”

Russell Academy’s Principal Rose, signaling he’s about to raise another silent auction bid.

Newman-Woods told us just before publication, “We grossed over $35,000 and netted $21,575.84. The funds earned at the auction will allow the Foundation to offer $10,000 in grants to the schools in the Parkrose School District.”

Speaking on behalf of the Special Appeal to benefit the Gateway Project, a student participant, Crystal Belcher, tells how this special program has helped her stay in school and consider further education.

Special Appeal: The Gateway Project
Last year, Dipasquale said, their “special appeal” brought in $4,000, which was used to repair well-used musical instruments at Parkrose Middle School. “It restored their band program. This year, the appeal will be for our ‘Promising Futures’ program at the Gateway Project.”

Bob Grovenberg told us about Promising Futures, saying, “We’re trying to raise enough money to hire a part-time person who will work with kids in our Gateway Project. This program supports homeless students. We focus on high school juniors and seniors, moving toward continuing their education.”

By the time they get to be juniors and seniors, Grovenberg explained, homeless kids stop thinking about continuing their education. “Thus, they go to work in minimum-wage jobs. They are pretty much stuck at that level when their support goes away.”

He went on, telling how most kids in the Gateway Project come from families in which their parents are undereducated and under-skilled. “Our focus is on these kids, helping them keep looking down the road so they can have a different ‚Äì and better ‚Äì life than their family has.”

To help the attendees get a better understanding of the Gateway Project, a participant, Crystal Belcher, told the group, “I’ve been in and out of school. And, I was kicked out. I’ve moved 16 times since the middle of September. At this time, I’m homeless. I work in the morning and take school in the afternoon.”

Belcher told how the Gateway Project helps students get basic needs like toiletries and school clothes. “They help us with drug and alcohol treatment at school. In the future, I look forward to having a regular home. It means a lot to me. Without the program, I wouldn’t be going to school; my future wouldn’t look very good at all.”

Ready to make another bid!

In all, $10,025 was raised for this special project.

You can help
Want to learn more about the good work done by the foundation? Contact them at (503) 408-2108 or see for more details.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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