Michael Allen Harrison performs to benefit ‘Human Solutions’

Find out where this concert was held – and about the new Human Solutions Winter Family Shelter location …

Human Solutions Special Events Coordinator Sara Fisher, and Executive Director Jean DeMaster, welcome guests to the benefit concert by Parkrose native – and now internationally-known recording artist – Michael Allen Harrison.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For longer than anyone in the organization can remember, Michael Allen Harrison has given an annual benefit concert for Human Solutions, an organization that helps homeless and low-income families to have the tools and resources they need to escape from poverty.

At the Montavilla United Methodist Church, on the evening of September 25, Harrison brought his musical talent, warm smile, and raconteur flair to the nearly 100 guests who came to enjoy his program.

Harrison plays his arrangement of “Song of Joy”, based on Ludwig van Beethoven song “Ode to Joy”, from his new album.

“Michael Allen Harrison has contributed to our organization for a long time,” reflected Human Solutions Executive Director Jean DeMaster.

Asked why Harrison’s benefit concerts are always held in churches, DeMaster replied, “Our Daybreak Shelter is supported by the faith-based community. We have a small grant from Multnomah County, but other than that, the churches that are part of the Daybreak Network that funds this program, as well as operates it, and provides places for people to sleep.”

The concerts help raise money, DeMaster told East Portland News. “Specifically, these funds go for the one staff member at the Daybreak Shelter, who helps families get back on their feet and get out of the shelter and into housing as quickly as possible.

“And, at these events, we also raise awareness about our Daybreak and Family Winter Shelter and homelessness programs,” DeMaster added.

Having grown up in mid-County area, Harrison recalls stories of youthful visits to the Montavilla neighborhood.

Winter Family Shelter moves east
For several years, the Parkrose Community United Church of Christ in Outer East Portland on NE Halsey Street, in the Russell neighborhood, has hosted a Winter Family Shelter.

“We had so many families come last year, we outgrew the space available at the church,” DeMaster said. “We can’t thank this church congregation enough for their generosity; but clearly, the there is a greater need that can be safely accommodated there.

“So, on November 1, the Family Winter Shelter will open in the mid-County Glenfair neighborhood, in the building located at East Burnside Street and NE 162 Avenue – the building that housed a methadone clinic for several years.

“This new location can accommodate up to 150 people every night,” DeMaster explained. “Our goal is to make sure that no family has to live out-of-doors, staying in a car, truck, abandoned building – or any unsafe situation – especially during the cold, wet winter months.”

Harrison launches into a popular tune by Gershwin, and later, some of his own compositions.

You can help
The Family Winter Shelter is in need of “comfort and care” items for its clients. CLICK HERE to open their website, and click on the “DONATE” tab for the list of items they’re seeking – or to make a tax-deductable financial contribution.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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