Portland, OR. “We are not the survival of the fittest. We are the survival of the nurtured,” explained Central City Concern (CCC) President and CEO Rachel Solotaroff during the nonprofit’s annual Compassion In Action luncheon. Rachel posed for a photo with Bobby Tsow, Medina Kurney, Bobby Watts. The benefit took place at the Downtown Hilton on October 15th and was a celebration of four decades of CCC helping people find home, hope and healing. In total, the CCC 2019 Compassion In Action campaign raised over $290,000. (Photo credit, Andie Petkus)

David Northfield, CCC Board Members, Andy Davidson and Dr. Richard Gibson

Central City Coffee Crew

Onlookers learn of Central City Concern’s roots by viewing timelines created for each decade. For 40 years, Central City Concern has provided recovery treatment, housing, health care and employment services for hundreds of thousands of people in Portland impacted by homelessness.

Presenting sponsor US Bank and Rachel Solotaroff, M.D., Central City Concern, President & CEO

With a blast of horns, Portland-based 12-piece funk and soul band Soul Vaccination kicked off the day’s program, performing their hit song “Funk P-Town” with several lyrics altered to celebrate CCC’s 40th anniversary.

CCC President and CEO Rachel Solotaroff then took the stage, thanking elected officials in attendance; the event’s Presenting, Home of Our Own and Ready to Work sponsors; and several corporate partners who have given to CCC for more than 20 years. Rachel went on to speak about a concept that is vital to the staff members, clients and the very spirit of CCC: resilience. She shared that resilience “isn’t something people are born with. It’s something people are given, and they are given it through human connection…resilience requires relationships, not rugged individualism.”

G. Robert (Bobby) Watts, CEO of National Health Care for the Homeless Council, served as the luncheon’s keynote speaker. Bobby tapped into the deep familiarity with CCC’s work that he’s developed as the leader of the nation’s preeminent membership organization of homeless health care organizations, people with lived experience of homelessness and advocates. CCC is, Bobby said, “doing some things that no one else is doing and they are doing some things better than most others are doing. We, as a council, are going to rely on them.”

Bobby then pivoted to speaking about homelessness as a national epidemic. He shared that our collective hope and goal should be moving toward “compassionate justice”: a society that not only sees housing and health care as human rights, but provides them as such. Our path toward that goal consists of doing what we know works: affordable housing and housing subsidies, health care to people experiencing homelessness, supportive housing, medical respite, practicing a Housing First approach, trauma-informed care, harm reduction and addressing racism.

The audience was treated to the premiere of “40 Years of Hope and Healing: The Human Connection,” a video feature that showed the transformative ripple effect of making a human connection through the stories of two long-time CCC employees, Bobby T. and Medina.

Here’s the video:

Stacey Dodson, market president at U.S. Bank, followed the video to make the pitch. Before she began her ask, however, she shared about her intimate connection to the devastation that addiction can ravage on families, making the work of CCC all the more vital to our community.

Soul Vaccination closed the program with three more songs, including a raucous version of Earth Wind & Fire’s “September.”

From Central City Concern:

Central City Concern meets its mission through innovative outcome-based strategies that support personal and community transformation.

  • Direct access to housing which supports lifestyle change.
  • Integrated healthcare services that are highly effective in engaging people who are often alienated from mainstream systems.
  • The development of peer relationships that nurture and support personal transformation and recovery.
  • Attainment of income through employment or accessing benefits.