For most people, the creation of community is almost automatic. Drawing from friends, family, colleagues and neighbors, many people are able to create a sense of belonging relatively easily. But for the majority of the people we serve, our members, the creation of community can be a challenge as they navigate through personal barriers, mental health issues, and isolation. For long-time Maybelle Center member Gayle, a sense of belonging and the creation of community didn’t come easily until she joined Maybelle Center.
Born and raised in Ft. Worth, Texas, Gayle came to live in Portland in the early 2000s. Soon after arriving, Gayle left an abusive marriage, which left her with almost nothing and forced her to live outside on the streets. Her life began looking up when she found permanent housing in North Portland through Home Forward. But although she was housed, Gayle recalls feeling welcomed, but not loved, in her new setting. In search of community, acceptance, and love, Gayle found Maybelle Center in 2004, through a connection with her faith community.
Gayle’s time at the Center has helped her cope with daily stress, successfully recover from alcoholism and has given her the confidence to become a volunteer. Most days, Gayle helps our staff with setting up activities and also pitches in by helping with our laundry and Community Room duties. Outside of the Center, Gayle has become involved with the Sisters of the Road farm stand, while also volunteering at a local hospice, helping families find comfort in difficult times.
Since becoming a member of Maybelle Center, Gayle says she feels she really has a community, a place where she can feel acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness and a sense of belonging. A place where she is not only known, but valued, respected and listened to. In her words, “Maybelle Center is a place where there is always someone with a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.”
At Maybelle Center we strive to create a sense of belonging and community for our members, no matter their past or present circumstances. It is people like Gayle who remind us that the community we are creating here is not only important, but can be lifesaving.