‘Fix-it Fairs’ return to outer East Portland

If you missed the fair at David Douglas High School – make sure you attend this Saturday’s event at Parkrose High School …

The David Douglas High School north cafeteria is filled with exhibitors and neighbors, as the “Fix-it Fairs” again roll through outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One way of to be sure January is here is the return of the Portland Fix-it Fairs to outer East Portland.

Early this year, on January 9, David Douglas High School (DDHS) was the site of the first of two such events; the last Fix-it Fair is at Parkrose High School this Saturday, January 30.

Desiree Williams-Rajee, an events and outreach coordinator for the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, makes sure everything is running smoothly at the Fix-It Fair – along with her co-worker, Wing Grabowski.

“This is the 23rd edition of the Fix-it Fairs,” announced organizer Desiree Williams-Rajee, an “events and outreach” coordinator for the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability.

“These events are important, because they provide information and resources to people about how they can save money and be healthy – especially during the chilly winter months,” Williams-Rajee explained. “In addition to our exhibitors, we offer a substantial lineup of quality-of-life-improving workshops, and informational seminars.”

Jon Gail, Housing Homeownership Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for Portland Development Commission teaches “Improving and Repairing your Credit”.

In fact, looking at the schedule, we saw that this particular Fix-It Fair is packed with classes ranging from how to create a healthy home, to do-it-yourself repair classes, and clinics providing gardening information.

“These fairs are also important because they help ‘resource organizations’ to connect with people here in the community. Sometimes agencies and social service agencies and nonprofits don’t have a good opportunity to interact with the public directly like this,” Williams-Rajee added. “This gives them an opportunity to get the word out that they exist, and that they’re doing really, really great work.”

Volunteer DDHS students Michael Williamson, Mohamed Yusuf, and Kayla Garrett help out by distributing sack lunches to the hungry Fix-it Fair participants.

Students help improve Fairs
This year, the Fix-it Fairs have made it a point to increase student involvement at the host schools. “We’ve been better about connecting with the high schools – involving the students,” said Williams-Rajee. “The students are doing a wonderful job; we’ve had as many as 30 students helping us out during the fair, which is great.”

The organizer also pointed out they’ve made good use of schools’ diversity. “Many students are helping us connect the folks speaking other languages than English with resource people. They’ve been good interpreters for us.”

Portland Mayor Sam Adams talks with Karl Dawson, Portland Parks & Recreation’s City Nature Forestry Arborist, and Jalene Braun, Neighborhood Tree Steward volunteer for the Lents Neighborhood; holding Lillian Kestell-Reyes.

Mayor mingles with the masses
One of the many City of Portland officials on hand was Mayor Sam Adams. “The Fix-it Fair is about connecting folks with services. We can’t help people in need if they don’t know that a service that could help them exists.”

Adams said he was happy to work alongside City co-workers, many of whom were volunteering their time to be at the event. “And, I’m a resource for the community. I am here, giving people the opportunity to speak with me directly about issues they may be having with the City. It’s part of my continuous effort to be out and talking with people in an unscripted way.”

What he likes best about the event, Adams confided, is the wide array of resources available. “It’s a great combination of East-Portland-focused organizations and nonprofits, services, education – all in one place. We’re all really focused on the concerns of people here in East Portland – and more importantly, finding solutions.”

Portland Office of Emergency Management’s William Warren is flanked by East Portland Crime Prevention Specialists Rosanne Lee and Teri Poppino.

This year’s Spirit of Portland Award-winning “Emerging Community Leader”, Mark White, tells about the neighborhood association he chairs, Powellhurst-Gilbert – and goes on to pitch this year’s East Portland Expo.

Not too late to benefit
On January 30, the Fix-it Fair comes to Parkrose – specifically, to Parkrose High School – between 8:30 am until 2 pm.

Here’s your chance to learn how to save money and connect with area resources. Did we mention there’s a free lunch and many giveaways by the agencies at fair?  Also, childcare is usually available.

Parkrose High is located at 12003 NE Shaver Street, just off NE 122nd Avenue. For more information, call their voicemail at (503) 823-4309, or e-mail them at fixitfair@ci.portland.or.us, or CLICK HERE to visit their website.

Prairie Hale, Zanger Farm’s community involvement coordinator, holds a jar of unpopped popcorn grown at the farm.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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