Earlier this week, Portlanders across the Metro area opened their mailboxes to find the Covid Resource Guide, a publication put out jointly by Portland’s neighborhood coalitions. Representing a combined effort among these nonprofit organizations, the Resource Guide is a wide-ranging collection of vital information to help Portlanders navigate the fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The information in the Guide is a compendium of existing community resources that are suddenly more necessary than ever. In addition to graphics and instructions on staying safe and healthy during this crisis, it also includes a map of food pantries around Portland and instructions on how to postpone your rent payment, as well as answering simple questions about what is and isn’t allowed during the Governor’s stay-at-home order.
Many of the needs it addresses are lesser-known but just as vital. With domestic violence, mental health crises and addiction struggles on the rise in quarantined households, the Guide also provides listings of social service agencies for anyone who needs that support. “This crisis is not just about the coronavirus,” says Sylvia Bogert, Executive Director of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc (SWNI), the coalition representing Southwest Portland. “It’s how the virus exacerbates problems that already plague our communities: lack of access to food, housing instability, mental health crises and domestic violence. Our goal was to point anyone who needs it to the right organization, hotline or online portal for help with any of the problems that may arise from this situation.”
Although Portland’s neighborhood coalitions have traditionally supported neighborhood associations, they have evolved over the years to be a one stop resource center for Portlanders, community groups and grassroots organizations looking for tools or guidance to improve their communities and access civic resources.
As the Covid crisis unfolded, the coalition directors collaborated to determine the best way to respond. They realized that the lack of access to quality information about Covid was the common denominator across the city. “We know that all of Portland’s communities have unique needs in normal times, and in this unprecedented public health crisis, we were hearing from community members that vital information just wasn’t reaching them,” says Adam Lyons, Executive Director of Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN).
Drawing upon their work publishing community newspapers, the coalitions knew that the best way to reach people is through direct mail. Adds Bogert of SWNI, “We have found that even in 2020, the most equitable and effective way of reaching all Portlanders with important information is to produce, publish and mail it straight into their homes.”
In their goal to reach and impact as many households as possible, the Guide is bilingual in English and Spanish and includes links to other information portals in twelve different languages online. “It’s easy to take for granted that this information is easy to find, but that’s not true for everyone,” says Lyons of NECN. “When you’re in crisis, or speak a different language, or are working long hours as an essential worker, you may not have the means or the time to track this all down. Our goal with this mailer was the same as our mission everyday: to be a resource for all Portlanders to thrive in their own communities. That mission is more important now than it has ever been before.”
For Information Contact Central Northeast Neighbors
Ronda Johnson, Equity Outreach Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 503-823-2780