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Donations hit $215,000 for new Chapman field

Group says businesses and friends come up with cash to honor teacher Steve Brand
by: Courtesy of Just a Field 
Hillside Soccer Club kids celebrated their partnership with Adidas and the Timbers at a training session this week. Large and small businesses, Chapman School alumni and Northwest Portland community members raised nearly $250,000 in five weeks for a turf field to be built at the school in honor of a beloved teacher.

Just two months ago, the Chapman Elementary community set their sights on a field of dreams.

They wanted to honor Steve Brand, a beloved teacher, soccer coach, husband and father who was 45 when he died of lymphoma in December.

They decided to honor him with a new turf field at their school, to replace the grassy field that's often too muddy for kids to play on. But they needed to raise $250,000 by June 1 - a tall order for any community in uncertain economic times.

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In just five weeks, the group managed to hit the $215,000 mark, through partnerships with local businesses and donations from alumni, neighbors, friends and strangers.

'I just find it exhilarating,' says Pat Fiedler, president of the Nob Hill Business Association, one of the businesses to chip in. 'These are tough times for everybody. When there's a need, people do step up.'

The campaign hope to raise the remaining $35,000 with a final fundraising push over the next two weeks.

Much of the funding so far has came from a partnership with the Portland Timbers and Adidas; other major business donors include ESCO, the Portland Knee Clinic, Becker Capital Management, the Northwest Neighborhood Veterinary Hospital and Here Now Creative Network.

Fiedler, co-owner of Child's Play toy store for the past 15 years, says she didn't know Brand personally, but she's heard stories from many people about how his genuine caring for others touched their lives.

'It tugged at the heartstrings,' she says. In other parts of the city, too, she says, 'if there were a cause, I'd think people would step up.'

Work on the turf field begins in July and will be complete by fall.

Currently, the grass field's muddy conditions have kids playing football on the asphalt and soccer on the tennis courts. The field also endures eight hours of soccer on Saturdays and three hours of soccer practices on weekdays in the fall.

A turf field can be used year-round, and will be used by community members as well as local sports clubs. There currently aren't any turf fields in Northwest Portland.

Chapman, a school of 525 students, has a high homeless population and 28 percent of students in poverty.

The turf field will use recycled Nike Grind rubber and require less water and maintenance than grass.

The Chapman parents and the nonprofit Hillside Soccer Club have named their campaign 'Just a Field,' which is now in the process of working with Portland Public Schools to select a contractor.

Here's the lineup of the three upcoming fundraising events:

• Tuesday, May 31, is a jazz night at Jimmy Mak's, 221 N.W. 10th Ave. Local jazz singer Tasha Miller will take the stage with other artists including Richard Melling, a Chapman kindergarten teacher and bluegrass musician; Dan Balmer, a Chapman parent and musician; and the Lincoln High School Vivace Singers, an award-winning a cappella ensemble.

Tickets are $30; tickets and dinner are $75.

• Saturday, June 4, is a kids' movie night. For $30, kids get to watch the 'Three Stooges' and 'E.T.' and eat popcorn, shave ice and hot dogs fom 3 to 6 p.m.

Parents must bring their own seat to Cine Rent West, 2580 N.W. Upshur St. Kids will be supervised by Chapman parents. Fifty spots are available; reservations are required.

• Saturday, June 4, is a celebration of Brand's life, 'La Vida Brand Celebracion! Steve would go.' Family and friends of Brand will gather for food, beer, an auction and after-party 7 p.m. at the Lucky Lab, 1945 N.W. Quimby St. Tickets are $50 per person. 

Brand is survived by his wife, Myndi, of nearly 10 years and their two daughters, Ruby and Charlotte, age 8 and 5.

For event tickets and more information on the campaign, visit justafield.com.