History

Imagine discovering a slow motion, invisible crisis unfolding in your city. That’s exactly what Fr. Richard Berg, C.S.C., found 25 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.

Father Berg and Mary Sue RichenFather Richard Berg and Mary Sue Richen
Maybelle Clark MacdonaldMaybelle Clark Macdonald
Our Mission:
Maybelle Center nurtures the body, mind and spirit of the forgotten poor in
Old Town-Downtown Portland by building connections and community.

Maybelle Center for Community Today

Today, Maybelle Center for Community is still powered by the dedicated staff, volunteers, and donors that help us serve nearly 500 members each year.

At Maybelle Center, we refer to the people we serve as members—as in members of a family. In fact, our members often refer to each other as “family” even though few of them knew each other prior to becoming members.

Field Trip to the Tulip Farm
Support Services:
183
people served in 2015
Outreach and Visitation:
231
people served in 2015
Spiritual Support:
186
people served in 2015

Our Members In Action

Testimonials

The staff here is awesome. They would bend over backwards for any person that lives here. This place seriously saved my life. Without this place, I wouldn’t be here.- Robert, Residence Member since 2012
I feel joy coming here. The staff is amazing. They are the kind of people I want to be friends with. I find it inspiring to be with people with whom I share everything important: values, compassion, openness. It lifts my spirits to come here.- Lisa, Community Volunteer since 2013
My heart has been softened to others. This has been a continuum of my learning process that began at Clackamas Community College when I did my clinical rotation in Old Town last January and February.- Rose, Student Volunteer in 2016

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