Guest Opinion: Jewish Community should help new SW neighbors

I am the proud mother of a 7-year-old daughter who attends Hayhurst Elementary School in Southwest Portland. Hayhurst is a wonderful public school tucked away in a residential neighborhood on Iowa Street at 50th.

In January Hayhurst welcomed the first group of what will be approximately 90 children moving into the Stephens Creek Crossing Housing Development, which is situated across the street from the Mittleman Jewish Community Center in Southwest Portland. SCC is a public housing development run by Hope Forward (previously the Housing Authority of Portland).

When all 90 of these children have joined Hayhurst by the end of this school year, its student body will increase by 30%. SCC replaces the 60-unit Hillsdale Terrace, which was demolished in 2012.

All of the children living at SCC come from families living at or below the poverty line. Even before the SCC influx, Hayhurst had many families who qualified for the free and reduced lunch program, which means they live at or below the poverty line.

By April of 2014 approximately 40% of Hayhurst’s students will be from families in this income bracket.

Along with fellow community members Emily Matza (PTA president) and Deanne Froehlich (principal), I am reaching out to the Portland Jewish community asking for financial support.

Without the financial assistance of the community, the SCC children cannot participate in after-school and evening enrichment programs such as Chess Club, choir and Lego Robotics, because there is no transportation available between SCC and Hayhurst (this includes Trimet).

In addition to raising money for transportation, we must also raise funds for scholarships to cover participation in after-school activities, evening programs and field trips – and to provide basic needs such as winter clothing, backpacks and, at times, meals.

I have worked in the criminal justice field for more than 20 years, and I know that when we as a community help bridge the gap for children living in poverty, we as a broader community benefit.

We are proud of our community’s longstanding tradition of helping families end the cycle of poverty by creating enrichment opportunities for them and their children.

In fact, two of our community’s greatest champions for social justice, Dick Brownstein and Fred Rosenbaum (of blessed memory), were the visionaries who first brought affordable housing to Southwest Portland.

SCC residents live in the heart of Portland’s Jewish community; their neighbors include the MJCC, synagogues, the Jewish Federation, Oregon Jewish Life magazine and many other organizations.

Hayhurst Elementary has the highest population of observant Jewish students in the Portland Public School District as well as a large population of less observant Jewish families. Many other Jewish children who attend school elsewhere live in Hayhurst’s vicinity and benefit from the school’s campus by taking advantage of the its play equipment and field during weekends and after-school hours.

A donation to support these children and this school is tax deductible. All of the money raised goes directly to the children. We have no overhead costs; we are 100 percent volunteer based.

Please help us support SCC and Hayhurst with a financial contribution.


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