Community Spotlight Archive: Portland, OR

Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) Initiative
Jewish Family & Child Service – Portland

Since it’s inception in July 2008, the Jewish Family & Child Service “Aging in Place” NORC project has been focusing its efforts on establishing a more connected network of agencies and organizations to better serve the seniors residing in our NORC community in the North Portland area.

To this end our Project Coordinator has created working relationships with over 45 agencies including North Portland community centers, apartment complexes, senior facilities, meal sites, wellness clinics, the North Portland Public Library, the YWCA Senior Center, Elders in Action, and the Lions Club.  Written program information, brochures and flyers have been disseminated in addition to presentations conducted by NORC program staff at these facilities.

Besides establishing contacts with agencies, our staff has been able to use these community centers as a base from which to survey seniors to assess their greatest needs and concerns about aging in place.  In addition, a satellite office has been established at the Northminster Presbyterian Church from which we will continue to direct, coordinate and implement the activities and programs of the NORC project.  These efforts have contributed to laying the foundation for the achievement of one of our primary long-term project goals: to improve service coordination and dissemination of information about services and availability.

The most salient issues of concern to the NORC program seniors are social isolation, lack of knowledge and access to resources and transportation. In order to provide a link between the seniors and available resources, the NORC Project Coordinator developed a fun and informational event that brought seniors and our resource network partners together to continue progress towards our goal of establishing an integrated service network.

The JFCS NORC program held a successful Senior Resource Fair in the Kaiser Permanente Town Hall in North Portland in January 2009.  Thirty-one exhibitors attended, including Store to Door, an agency that provides low-cost, personalized grocery shopping and delivery services to seniors; Portland Parks and Senior Recreation; Ride Connection, a non-profit organization dedicated to linking seniors to accessible transportation options; Multnomah County Aging & Disability Services; and the Friendly House Elder Resource Alliance. Other exhibitors included Easter Seals, local utilities, social service agencies, nurses, nutritionists, a reverse mortgage specialist and energy assistance programs. Many of the exhibitors offered free items such as anti-microbial hand sanitizer and energy-efficient light bulbs, as well as cookies, beverages and door prizes donated by local area organizations.

Over 60 North Portland area residents attended, an impressive number considering the day’s severely inclement weather.  Many new NORC participants were gained from the afternoon’s festivities, as well as establishing the JFCS NORC program as a unique opportunity for seniors in the North Portland area to get the help they need to age in place.