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Clackamas board OKs $250,000 for 40 community grants

Potential controversy over Pregnancy Care Centers grant is sidetracked.

Clackamas County commissioners have approved a total of $250,000 for 40 small grants to community organizations for work to avert such problems as homelessness and hunger.

But as they did so Tuesday (Oct. 4), they also sidetracked a potential controversy — entanglement on the issue of abortion — by redirecting $1,200 to another organization already recommended for a grant.

“This (program) was never meant to be controversial,” Commissioner Jim Bernard said. “This was to be the easiest thing we did.”

This year was the eighth in which the county budget has set aside money for community grants. The 40 recipients were recommended from among 69 applicants who sought a total of $711,084, almost three times the amount available.

Among the staff recommendations presented to the commissioners was $1,200 to Pregnancy Care Centers, which operate in Canby and Molalla, for a washer and dryer. The organization promotes adoption and parenting as alternatives to abortion.

Bernard’s motion, which passed 4-0, redirected the money to a program of emergency food and personal hygiene items provided by Good Roots Community Church in Milwaukie. With the redirected money, that program will be in line for a total of $3,200, instead of $2,000; it had requested $5,000.

Commissioner Tootie Smith was absent from the vote.

Bernard did not touch directly on the potential controversy. He said only that priorities for the grants should go to programs alleviating homelessness and hunger.

Representatives of two benefiting organizations were present when the commissioners acted.

Clackamas Drop — an offshoot of Oregon Youth MOVE (Motivating Others through the Voices of Experience) — will receive the full $10,000 it sought for a café at its drop-in center in Milwaukie.

“It is where youth can develop job skills so they can get jobs in the food-service industry later,” said program manager Maria Hermsen.

She said the café will allow youths to learn how to provide customer service and obtain food handler cards required by state and county health agencies to demonstrate knowledge of safe practices.

The drop-in center, open from 3 to 6 p.m, serves around 100 youths annually — Hermsen said an average of 20 to 30, ages 14-25, drop by daily — and relies on peer support.

County Board Chairman John Ludlow attended last month’s reopening of the renovated center at 11097 SE 21st Ave. The statewide nonprofit also operates centers in Eugene and Medford.

National Alliance on Mental Illness/Clackamas County will receive the full $2,050 it requested for a couple of laptop computers and projectors.

Executive director Michele Veenker said the equipment will enable volunteer presenters — including young adults who have experienced mental health issues — to speak to middle- and high school audiences.

“We teach them about the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, how to talk about them, and to what to do if someone they know is suicidal,” she said.

“The young adults get to tell their stories and help break the stigma.”

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For a list of grant recipients, click on the link provided by Clackamas County. The final list deletes a $1,200 grant to Pregnancy Care Centers and boosts from $2,000 to $3,200 a grant to Good Roots Community Church.