Portland, OR. Impact NW, an organization that fights homelessness by supporting struggling families, continues to operate despite going fully remote as of March 13th, 2020. Their staff now provides rental and energy assistance online and conducts home visits via video call. 

Development Director Ada Dortch explains that Impact NW’s academic support programs have had to do the most adaptation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dortch explains that, due to school closures, staff members have had to shift their focus away from general community support work towards individual case management. Each family is affected differently: school closures, mass layoffs, and pay cuts have raised new challenges for people trying to keep a roof over their heads. “We work with each family to meet their needs,” Dortch explains. “Everyone has been impacted in some way [by COVID-19].”

Soon, kids will be able to participate in in-person school workshops like this!

Despite these obstacles, Impact NW has had a surge of support from individuals as well as larger corporate donors. “We are only as strong as our community and our supporters,” says Dortch. She also points to the creativity and dedication of staff members as a major factor in the organization’s success in these tumultuous times. 

For those looking to make themselves a part of this wave of contributions, Dortch suggests donating to the No Place Like Home drive for household supplies, which she cites as a major cause for concern among families who are struggling during the pandemic. In addition, Impact NW will hold a virtual fundraiser this September. Readers can expect to hear more about this event once the details are fully hammered out.

About Impact NW: 

Impact NW has always responded to our community’s most pressing needs.

Formed in 1966 by neighbors in Portland’s Buckman neighborhood, community members came together to combat poverty and deteriorating conditions in Southeast Portland. The agency was originally named Portland Action Communities Together, Inc. (PACT).

Early Impact NW initiatives included employment programs, family counseling, food buying clubs, and a tool lending library. We helped develop Southeast Portland’s first Senior Center, Youth Service Center, and free health clinic. In the 1990s, we piloted Multnomah County’s first Parent-Child Development Services program and the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) program. Throughout our organizational history we have always aimed to help people thrive and remain safely housed.

The organization was renamed Portland Impact in the 1980s, and later Impact NW as we expanded our services outside the Portland Metropolitan area.