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Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
Published: 21 June 2012

Portland Police Sgt. Wendi Steinbronn

Portland Police have moved their gang specialists to East precinct for the summer, and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office is stepping up patrols and partnering with the Rosewood Initiative to support neighbors and youth.

"We have a ton of youth who live in this neighborhood and there's not a lot for them to do here," said Jenny Glass, executive director of the Rosewood Initiative. The Rosewood Initiative has opened The Rosewood Café on S.E. 162nd and Stark as part of its mission to build community and support youth and families in East Portland.

"We are trying our best to create things for them to do. The needs are really immediate. We can't wait to deal with these things. Summer is here."

Youth Events

Got talent? The Rosewood Hip Hop and Arts Showcase will take place on July 21 (location to be arranged). To take part you need to sign up between noon and 5 p.m. Saturday June 30 at
the Rosewood Café, 609 S.E. 162nd Ave.

Thursday Youth Nights: for youth who live close to the café, find pizza and fun 6-8 p.m.
Thursdays at the Rosewood Café, 609 S.E.
162nd Ave.

Want to Help Youth?

The Rosewood Initiative needs four or five committed volunteers to run Open Gym this summer. Oliver Elementary school has offered
its gym from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays
and Fridays.

The Rosewood Café is under renovation and
needs volunteers with construction skills
(plumbing, masonry, electrics…). It also needs building materials, tools and hardware to complete the café. And we always need things
like coffee and toilet rolls, says Jenny Glass.

Email Jenny at [email protected]


Glass was one of about 40 people who turned out to the East Portland Youth Violence Prevention Community Meeting, June 20. The crowd at Papa's Pizza was about half the size of the last meeting, probably, Glass said, because the café had hosted two other well attended events that day.

Neighbors shared frustrations over increased crime in the neighborhood, and fears that summer could bring an increase in gang-related violence. Gentrification has driven low-income families into East county where rents are cheaper. But with youth unemployment at shockingly  high levels for young men of color, crime, gang activity and violence has become more of a problem.

Sgt. Wendi Steinbronn said a lot of crime can be prevented when officers are out in neighborhoods building relationships with youth. Portland's Operation Safe Summer has bumped up officer numbers and created  summer youth programs. But the Rockwood neighborhood lies on the border between Gresham and Portland, and while East Portland has 20 officers available at night, Gresham has seven officers for the entire city.

"It's not that they don't want to do it, they just have a different staffing pattern," she said.

On the wishlist, for some speakers, is a youth center for East Portland that opens extended hours and in good repair. The PAL Center on 172nd is doing great work with some of the youth, but its building is in poor condition, said Sandra Casillas.

About 250 youth from all over the city are at the PAL Sports camp at the former Marshall High School campus June 18-22. About 30 police officers and volunteers teach everything from archery to martial arts and soccer. The PAL club on 172nd is closed for the week but usually serves about 200 youth every day.

"I wish we had something like the Boys and Girls Club in Northeast Portland here, and that it could be open late," Cassillas said. 'That is a very good building."

Tom Peavey, policy manager in the Office of Youth Violence Prevention said the city has granted PAL extra funds to extend its hours to 10 pm some evenings until August, but that money will run out.

At the meeting, staff from the Center for Family Success shared information about the program. The center offers parenting and relationship classes, that research has shown to work. Sharon Darcy, executive director of the program, said anyone can go to the center at 229 S.E. 181st Ave., and get help free of charge.

The center is one of about 20 nonprofit organizations working together through Project Access to make sure families get the help they need, Darcy said. The group includes Self Enhancement Inc., Portland Opportunities Industrial Center, Friends of the Children, Human solutions, the Latino Network and more, she said. And a plan is in the works to build a social services center in East County.

"We want to make sure there is no wrong door. So it doesn't matter who you go to, you will get the same assessment and if you only need two things from us and six from somewhere else, we will refer you."

Through the Portland Development Commission's Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, the Rockwood/Rosewood business district, the Parkrose business district and a stretch of East Division Street, will be designated urban renewal areas. Glass said the money will help business owners improve their properties.

Jenny Glass, left, with IRCO Outreach worker Valerie Salazar

"What it means is we're getting some financial resources flowing into our community," she said.
Also at the meeting were representatives from crime prevention, the Gresham DA's Office and Multnomah County as well as Mayoral candidate Charlie Hales and City Commissioner candidate Mary Nolan.
Hales said he knew how important the work of the group is and would continue to support the Office of Youth Violence Prevention  if he's elected.

Jimmy Brown, a former Parole and Probation employee, volunteering with the youth violence prevention group led the meeting.

"When local businesses and community based organizations and residents work together, that's what builds a healthy community," he said.

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