‘Ride Connection’ celebrates move to Gateway area

Find out how this organization chose the Hazelwood neighborhood as its new home …

Community members and supporters visit the new office of Ride Connection, now located in the Gateway area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It was a gala occasion on September 10, when nonprofit Ride Connection celebrated the relocation of its headquarters to the Gateway area.

The speeches and luncheon took place in a parking lot behind the building known as Glisan Commons – which occupies the city block centered on 9955 NE Glisan Street.

Ride Connection Board Member Alison Stoll welcomes guests to the Grand Opening ceremony for the nonprofit’s new offices.

During the formal remarks, Ride Connection Board Member Alison Stoll served as MC, and welcomed the large group that assembled.

“Ride Connection provided more than 47,000 rides in the last year to people who would otherwise have difficulty getting around,” Stoll remarked, before introducing their first speaker, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.

The relocation of, and the work of, Ride Connection meets several of their agency’s mission goals, says TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.

“This is a great milestone,” said McFarlane. “What this project envisions and produces is in line with our missions. Certainly, we have the mission of getting employees to work, and customers to businesses; and to reduce [roadway] congestion. We also provide critical service moving kids and seniors and people with disabilities – people who otherwise would not be able to participate in our society and our daily life.

“Another mission [of TriMet is to] help shape the region that were all a part of,” McFarlane continued. “This project hits two of our missions head-on – serving seniors, and people with disabilities; and helping to build this Regional Center, here in the Gateway area.”

Giving a welcoming address is Human Solutions Executive Director Jean DeMaster.

Next to congratulate the organization was Human Solutions Executive Director Jean DeMaster.

“I have just one thing to say – congratulations!” exclaimed DeMaster.

“But, this is much more than just an office space,” she continued. “It’s not cold and harsh, like some other office spaces; it’s light and bright and alive and welcoming to everyone who comes here. I think the love that the staff at Ride Connection has for their work has been translated into the architecture – it’s now a happy place to be in.”

The new offices of Ride Connection are in Glisan Commons, a Human Solutions housing center.

DeMaster observed that Human Solutions is a partner in Glisan Commons, providing 65 units of “workforce housing”.

“This is a partnership that was formed to revitalize reform this area. This is a perfect example of how to lead the way for how this can be done,” she concluded.

Presenting remarks to mark the occasion is Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Developing the Gateway area has been a challenge, said the next speaker, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

“I’ve been on the Portland City Council for 16 years now,” Saltzman said. “Working with citizens in outer East Portland, we’re trying to make Gateway a healthier place with more ‘market rate and above’ housing.

“I know there’s a lot of Gateway pride here, I don’t want to diminish that,” Saltzman added. “We’re not finished with Gateway. I am convinced that better days for Gateway are still ahead.”

Announcing her happiness with the organization’s new offices is Ride Connections Executive Director Elaine Wells.

Wrapping up the speeches, Ride Connections Executive Director Elaine Wells stepped up to the podium.

“What a day!” Wells said exuberantly. “This has been a really long time coming; years actually, for Ride Connection. We are excited to be celebrating, with all of our nonprofit partners in this project – Human Solutions and Reach CDC, who developed this space into a place where the region’s citizens can come and live, work, and access information about transportation options.”

Wells commented that the organization actually moved in about six weeks before the public grand opening. “We already feel a part of this community. We look forward to becoming fully involved in all of those organizations that support this area. We want to be good neighbors, and good business partners.”

Ride Connection “Travel Navigator” Ashley McCoy shows off her new workstation to touring groups.

Their new offices are important to her, Wells said, because they provide growth space. “As the demand for alternative transportation grows, so must we. Here, as you will see, we will have that space to add both staff and volunteers.”

It is also important that they now have open, street-level doors. “This makes it easy for people to access our services in person. A sterile environment is gone; this is an open environment where people can come and learn about their transportation options.”

Guests enjoy a luncheon before touring the new offices of Ride Connection.

There was no ribbon cutting; instead guests were invited to enjoy a catered luncheon outside on the patio, and then to tour the facility.

Learn more about Ride Connection at their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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