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Asian Family Center celebrates new home


Native dress, ethnic food and cultural performances were the order of the day at the Asian Family Center Open House last month.
Meyer Memorial Trust CEO Doug Stamm and Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, center, holding scissors, prepare to cut the ribbon held by AFC staff, supporters and dignitaries at the Asian Family Center Open House last month.

Mid-county Memo photo/Tim Curran
Replete with ethnic cuisine, cultural performances, guided tours, and a dignitary filled ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization hosted an open house at its new Asian Family Center last month. City and county officials, community members, partners, former and current clients joined IRCO board members and AFC staff celebrating its new home, 8040 N.E. Sandy Blvd.

According to Jeff MacDonald, IRCO associate director, they bought the building in 2011 for $750,000, and, to accommodate AFC staff before they could move in, had $300,000 of renovation done.

Lee Po Cha, AFC director, credited Senator Ron Wyden and former Multnomah County Chair Beverly Stein with securing the federal funding to create the AFC in 1994 and Dan Saltzman, then a county commissioner, with being the swing vote bringing the first culturally specific services model in Multnomah County into existence.

Po Cha thanked primary funders Multnomah County, the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, the federal government and United Way. “Because of your passions you wanted to make a difference in our most vulnerable population in our region. And because of your kindness and the way that you wanted to make all most vulnerable people be somebody like a contributing member of our society [sic], because of that we thank you,” Po Cha said.

He gave special thanks to Doug Stamm, CEO of the Meyer Memorial Trust, which gave $185,000 towards the purchase of the new space. “Thanks to you, we can say we found a permanent home. We are so grateful and we appreciate so much all your support and leadership.”

Because the organization served more than 9,000 Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants and refugees in 2011 - a 400 percent increase since 2006 - the group outgrew its A-Frame building on Glisan Street in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. The new building has more space for growing programs while bringing services closer to the populations the AFC serves, which have been pushed out toward Mid-county.

With programs designed to meet the cultural and language needs of Asian and Pacific Islander youth and families, the AFC was begun 18 years ago.

The AFC provides childhood development services, parent education and support, youth services, anti-poverty assistance, gang outreach, domestic violence services and health education programs.

Annually, the AFC assists 250 families with energy payments, and has helped over 1000 API women receive free health-care services.

AFC has served more than 25,000 clients and 4,000 youth mostly from the Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, Hmong, Mien, Burmese, Filipino and Pacific Islander communities in Portland. n
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