Imagine discovering a slow motion, invisible crisis unfolding in your city. That’s exactly what Fr. Richard Berg, C.S.C., found 27 years ago in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood—hundreds and hundreds of people living in shabby single room occupancy hotel rooms, completely isolated from the rest of the community by poverty, mental illness and addiction. To the world around them they were invisible. To Fr. Berg they were a call to action.
What today is the Maybelle Center for Community began with a group of dedicated volunteers organized by Fr. Berg, determined to make a difference in the lives of these isolated people by reaching out to them, one by one. It worked.
We are named in honor of the late Maybelle Clark Macdonald, a lifelong philanthropist and a dedicated supporter of those less fortunate. An Oregon native, with an eye for style, and a deep sense of giving back, Maybelle was a principal supporter in the creation of our Center.
“Over many years, Maybelle Clark Macdonald tried her best to alleviate suffering in the heart of the city with her kindness and financial support. We spoke with her about our inner-city diagnosis. As we explained the dire healthcare needs we encountered, Maybelle realized she had finally found a group of concerned friends and citizens willing to effectively tackle the problem of social isolation. She, with a number of our friends, benefactors, the neighborhood association, foundations and companies, all helped our small “pioneering team” with the resolve and resources to build in Portland a very unique center of care in the United States.”
– Fr. Berg, C.S.C.