Congratulations Nancy Jason! Our 2018 Hilltop Award Recipient

For almost as long as she can remember, helping people, making connections have been a central part of Nancy Jason’s life.

In middle school, and then in high school and beyond, she made time to volunteer with homelessness service organizations, feeding people in need and getting to know them. Even as a graduate student in England, Jason volunteered helping adults transition out of homelessness.

All the while, she drew on her own background as the youngest of three children in an immigrant family enduring the same ups and downs that sent others to the streets. For years, the family filled a one-bedroom apartment in Queens. Later, they left for California, moves that sent Jason to different schools for sixth, seventh and eighth grade.

“It's always been there, my heart and my passion to connect. It's always been about making a  connection and hearing someone's story,” she said. “Some people have this fear of the unknown. That's sometimes why there's such a stigma or negative perception of people who are homeless. But that kind of fear has never been a part of me.”

Today, after years of working directly with families experiencing homelessness, Jason supervises a team of advocates and others at Human Solutions, a service provider dedicated to serving families in Multnomah County who face housing instability and homelessness.

And, at the same time, she’s advising her agency’s senior leadership on best practices, helping to instill a culture of trauma-informed care at the agency and to grow the agency’s equity committee to better reflect the role that institutional racism and bias plays in poverty.

That commitment has earned Jason this year’s HILLTOP Award for Agency Staff/Volunteer Achievement.

The programs Jason oversees go to the heart of Human Solutions and Multnomah County’s shared mission of serving as a safety net for people in need.

She manages the Multnomah Stabilization Initiative, which offers flexible help to families in poverty, a rent assistance program that specifically helps parents seeking employment aid, and a housing assistance program, in partnership with the County, that works with families at Alder Elementary School.

“She brings a high level of compassion, commitment, and organization” to those programs, her nomination letter says. “Her staff respect and adore her. She expects a lot from them and she gives just as much back. She is dependable, smart, and engaged at the program level, with staff, and in her community.”

Threaded through all of that work is a commitment to pushing against institutional barriers — like racism and the trauma and lack of generational wealth it leaves.

“My own family lived close to poverty as an immigrant family in New York, but we also also had a lot privileges because we were Asian,” Jason said. “You can give someone a house, food and clothing. But it's not just about those resources. It's also about shifting a whole society and making a shift in people.”

That’s also why, she says, she strives to build trust with clients and let their experiences serve as a guide.

“It’s asking not, ‘what’s wrong with you?’ but ‘what’s happened to you?’ It helps get things in perspective,” she said. Otherwise, “you can really get lost in this field.”

 

 

Learn more about Multnomah County Volunteer Awards

eUpdate: It’s Nearly Summer!

As summer nears, we’re as busy as ever at Human Solutions. But we did squeeze in time for an all-staff retreat last week, where we snapped this pic of our whole team:

We came together at the retreat to exchange ideas about the 5-year strategic and equity plan we’re working on. After 30 years, we’re excited to focus our work on equity, systems change, and long-term positive outcomes for the people and places in East Portland/Multnomah County. Stay tuned - we’ll be rolling it out soon!

ANNA'S SUCCESS!

Just $107 stood between Anna, a resident at one of our rental housing communities, and a possible eviction back in October. Anna is the sole provider for her husband and their 6 year-old daughter, because dad had a chronic health condition that prevented him from working. When Anna became pregnant, she got quite ill for a month and was under doctor’s orders to not work. Without any other source of income, the family was at risk of eviction and Anna felt she could not take time off.

Human Solutions provided rent assistance to the family, making it possible for Anna to rest per doctor’s orders and return to work without endangering her or her baby’s health. Anna and her family were able to come through this unexpected financial crisis and keep their housing - because they received rent assistance at a critical moment. In such cases a little truly goes a long way.

OUR CFO IS ONE OF THE BEST!

Chief Financial Officers aren’t usually the people you first think of when you think of an organization. But they are critically important to the stability and sustainability of an organization. Human Solutions is thrilled to have had Tanja Lux serving as our CFO for over two years now. She has the mind for non-profit finance in a complex organization and has helped us identify areas for improvement and ways to ensure we are here for the community for years to come.

It was no surprise to us that Tanja was a finalist in the Portland Business Journal’s “CFO of the Year” awards program. Thank you, Tanja, for your smart thinking and dedication to our organization and mission. We’re sure glad she’s on our team!

VOLUNTEER TO COOK A MEAL AT OUR WOMEN’S SHELTER

We’re excited to roll out a new way to volunteer at our women’s shelter: join us to prepare a Seasonal SundaySupper. Here’s how it works: every quarter when the season changes we gather to cook and serve a meal together. It’s a fun and rewarding way to serve and connect with your community.

Our 2018 dates are: Sundays June 24September 23December 23, and March 18, 2019. Learn more and sign up here. Join us!

 

WHAT WE NEED NOW

At an organization like Human Solutions, we always need a few things to deliver our services better. Right now, we need:

  • 4 farmer’s market style tents. We need them to provide shade when we distribute food from the Oregon Food Bank this summer.
  • Basketball gear for teen kids. Six boys who live in our affordable housing communities have an opportunity to attend basketball camp for a week this summer, and we want to send them with the right gear so they can fit in and feel a little special. Ideally they can select shoes, shirts and shorts, and a ball themselves. Maybe even a great duffel! (New items only, please!)
  • Diapers. We can never have enough for the families we work with. When money is tight, people make trade-offs. Diapers are expensive so it’s one way we can help their budget.

If you’re the right person to provide any (or all!) of these items, please be in touch with Andie at 503.548.0283 or adoo@humansolutions.org. Thank you!

FREE SUMMER FUN & MEALS

School’s nearly out and you’re likely wondering what the kids are going to do all summer – and worrying about how much it will cost.

  • The City of Portland has a great guide to a whole lotta free summer fun – check it out!
  • The City of Gresham has a free “Summer Kids in the Park” program to look into, too! Learn more.

When school’s out, so are free and reduced breakfasts and lunches, unfortunately. This guide will help families find the nearest summer meals program – just enter your city or zip code to find out.

SAVE THE DATE: OUR 30THANNIVERSARY GALA & AUCTION

We’re planning a big party to celebrate our 30th Anniversary on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Please mark your calendars now, and we’ll be back to you later this summer with details. Here’s a link to learn more – including how to sponsor the event and donate to our auction. See you this fall!