Trillium Family Services is an incredible non-profit organization that houses children ages 7-17 with mental illness that yield their ability to lead a normal life. I have had the privilege of working in the ‘healing garden’ where the children come to experience the healing benefits of nature.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 44 million Americans experience mental illness every year. Coping with a child’s mental health illness and finding the appropriate treatment are difficult tasks when a family is under stress. You are not alone.

Unfortunately, the stigma of mental health often discourages people from seeking help. If a child has leukemia, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or asthma, the family gets support and compassion, but families of mentally ill children hear accusations and judgment from all sides. At Trillium, we strive to help families combat this stigma and seek the care that will allow their children to lead happy, healthy lives.Standing up and speaking out about mental and behavioral health, acknowledging that we are all affected by the two, and understanding that our struggles are often at the root of our power, reduces stigma and gives strength to those who may be feeling isolated by their own experiences in the world. Sometimes it only takes a little compassion to save someone’s life.


However, there is one important difference between mental health and physical health: a mental illness manifests itself through behavior and mood. Even today, mental illness is often looked upon as a character flaw rather than a treatable condition that can be effectively managed. But we do know that mental illness IS treatable, especially in children.

What if we treated physical illness like we treated mental illness?

Trillium Success Story (

Doug walked in the door, and his grandparents could see the results of a tough day.

His frustration was building. His grandparents feared the family was returning to square one, and the more frightened they grew, the more frightened Doug became, starting a downward spiral.

The last time Doug’s family was at square one was six months earlier. When Doug and his grandparents were referred to Trillium Family Services, Doug was a 10- year-old boy suffering from deep depression and threatening violence. Doug couldn’t make or keep friends. He was disruptive in school and at home. His tantrums were the kind you see in a 2-year-old, only in a 10-year-old body.

Our treatment team assessed Doug’s needs and designed a complete treatment plan. Therapy staff learned that Doug’s depression stemmed from a chemical imbalance that was exacerbated because he couldn’t sleep. Treatment staff addressed Doug’s sleep problems early. By sleeping well, Doug gained the physical strength to begin the therapy process.

Other medication helped with the depression, and he built his self-esteem through positive experiences, such as participating in our therapeutic horse program. Family therapy involved the grandparents in the process, and in-home skills trainers taught the grandparents how to manage Doug’s condition.

When Doug returned home to stay, the turnaround was remarkable. He improved at school, began making and keeping friends, and took part in activities once closed to him.

Trillium takes both a preventative and a treatment based approach so that there is no relapse when the treatment is over. I will remain a community partner and hope to get a job working in one of the children’s units when I return to Oregon in the Fall.



Heart2Heart Farms

            Heart2Heart is a family owned, community driven farm in Sherwood, Oregon, that practices environmental stewardship, ethical treatment of animals, and empowerment in bridging the gap in many people’s lives between their food and where it comes from. Relaying my experience there is difficult to do merely with words, as the past six months have been incredibly eye opening and soul filling. Constantly working alongside the passionate, knowledgeable, and loving folk who run it as well as interested and diverse community members, I have grown in unmeasurable ways. The work there reconnects one back to the basics of coexistence, living amongst that which nourishes you, and in turn respecting the thing from which it came- the people, the animals, the planet.
             Taking this class alongside my work there has created another environment in which to discuss what I’ve been learning, hear about other people’s community work , and spread the word about the opportunities of the farm. We have participated in discussions on the roots of perpetual issues and how we implement actions in our daily lives that aid in creating a more sustainable and just social model.

Alicia Louise Markey-Fessel

It’s A Small Small World

Hello! I am Lifia Teguh, a piano performance major at Portland State University from Indonesia. I am also the President of PERMIAS PDX (Indonesian Students Association of USA-Portland) and an International Cultural Services Program (ICSP) at PSU.

Being involved in sharing my culture to the community through those two organizations have been unforgettable to me. It is such a privilege to be an ambassador of my country. It is also very fun because not only I can talk to other people about my background, but I can share the experience of making Indonesian music together.

Here are some of the highlights working as an agent of diversity:

  1. Taught around 200 audiences to play angklung at Indonesian Night 2016: SEJARI which was organized by PERMIAS PDX.

2. Compose and arrange Indonesian traditional music and collaborated with Americans to play them!

3. Had a gig at Lansu Chinese Garden as well as having fun with your peers while doing something meaningful: sharing the joy of playing music with others.

More information about PERMIAS PDX can be found at Facebook: PERMIAS PDX, Youtube channel: PERMIAS PDX, instagram and snapchat: @permiaspdx, and more information about my works can be found at


Diversity Training and Education


By Hayley Greening UNST399U

Winter, 2016

Diversity is vital in the development and progression of our communities. Many communities today lack diversity, or more accurately lack the understanding of its meaning and benefit and place within a community. By implementing diversity training and various education programs surrounding diversity we can bring about awareness as well as tolerance for all different backgrounds, opinions, and perspectives.

Embracing diversity practices can help people from all over the world feel safe and included. When people feel safe and include they’re more inclined to be active and involved in the collaboration within the community. By incorporating the ideas of everyone rather than idealizing those of the privileged select few, we can solve many of the problems that society faces.

“Not having diversity leaves us poorer intellectually, creatively, and culturally” (Bergland).  

When we exclude the cultures and opinions of others we expel potential solutions to society’s challenges and miss out on all that they can bring to the table. It’s pertinent that we educate ourselves and our communities about diversity, not only to help people feel safe and accepted but also to benefit off of the collaboration, ideas, and solutions that they have to offer. By teaching diversity we can create a community where we recognize and celebrate each others differences.

Oregon Food Bank

It’s hard to tell that food waste and hunger is an issue especially if you never experienced having to use food stamps, lack of access to food and being unable to afford food. In every community, there are families that struggles to pay bills, struggle to get an education, struggle to get food and struggles to keep everyone well fed and healthy due to low income, lack of accessibility, the affordability, and lack of support because they simply don’t have the “money” or “privilege”. The Oregon Food Bank, a local organization strives to end hunger and food waste in the world but they also strive to make food more accessible to those who need and can’t afford it; one community at a time.

When I first started volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank, I wasn’t sure what to expect and what I would learn besides how to garden and how to package food. I wasn’t aware that world hunger and food waste was an actual issue because I personally never experienced it myself due to being born into a middle-class family who can afford and access food whenever; it felt like it was unlimited for me and that I would never have to worry about being hungry compared to others. As I became a regular volunteer at the organization, I started to become familiar with the types of people who lives in my community that struggles to afford or even access food and relies on programs like the Oregon Food Bank and food stamps just to get by for the day. Through interaction within the food repackaging program I learned that the Oregon Food Bank isn’t just solely focused on world hunger and food waste but the politics and laws regarding it; they want to spread awareness while making affordability and access more fair to all the income classes and are taking action starting from schools to community programs such as reduced lunch for students with families below, near or at the poverty line.

I can’t express how valuable and important this course is for any individual due to the idea that you’re required to go out and volunteer at organizations that aims for social change. The experience you receive, as boring or tedious as it sounds to volunteer is, is something you’ll take with you for life; it’ll enlighten you, change you and even motivate you to do more. This course offers the opportunity and time to go out to these organizations and volunteer rather than making it another assignment to pile up with others, in fact, it allows you to interact with your classmates and professors more than other classes because of discussions that allows you to talk about what you did and receive feedback from other classmates. As someone who was completely blinded to the issues around me, this course helped open my eyes and allowed me to be more aware of what’s going on around me and the opportunity to be part of a social change, the opportunity to get involved.

This course is entirely an online class and the assignments allows more reflection as an individual which I personally found beneficial because it allowed one to see what one did and if they could improve or learn something from an experience that they would never think twice of after leaving the program. You’ll get feedback from both the professor and your classmates that it’ll turn into a normal interaction rather than just another assignment, learning more about others and yourself while in the process. This course is definitely worth taking and I would recommend any student who’s beginning their upper division cluster to take this class not only because it’s beneficial, a graduation requirement or even “easy” but because it’s also fun and enlightening in more ways than one for yourself as an individual.

Portland Housing

HousingLogoOnlineBannerby Thanh Nguyen UNST399U

Winter 2016

The Portland housing rate is rapidly increased for renters: “During the third quarter of 2015, Portland saw 15.4 percent rent hikes” according to Andrew Theen of the Oregonian. Three of the causes to the raise in housing costs are from developers’ strategy, migrants from other states, and banned inclusionary zoning. First, condos have better selling prices and less maintenance  comparing to apartments, so developers built more condos and took rental units out from the market. A data from real-estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap shows that in 2014 “the number of apartments available for rent at any given time hit a record low of 2.8 percent.” Most of people in Portland still need to rent houses, but in 2014 only about 4,413 construction for rental units are built to supply for the addition of 30,500 jobs. This shortage in rental units is the big cause for the raising cost in renting. Second, Portland now is the 10th-highest rate of domestic migration out of the 50 largest urban areas by the Census Bureau estimated and almost 50% of the growth is from domestic migrant. Portland welcomes people all around the world, but the fast increase in population forces the increase in housing demands which leads to the raise in renting costs. Third, Oregon and Texas are the only two states that bans cities from mandating inclusion zoning- a policy for developers to make a specific percentage of all developed areas to poor and working class people. The ban of the inclusionary zoning with the strategy of developed condos for benefits totally go against the dramatic increase in Portland population.

Out of the three main reasons for raising housing prices, the increase in population is the one that could not change because less likely politicians can stop people from having kids or moving to Portland. That is too involved to the freedom in America. However, the politicians can requires developers to slow down their benefits regarding to the huge renting expenses of poor and working classes by changing Portland zoning code, so that any new constructions will have more renting units for low to moderate income people.

As a renter, we can protect ourselves by knowing our rights. Therefore, please check out the two links below to learn more.



Volunteering with Doerbecher Children’s Hospital

By: Sara

Volunteering with Doernbecher Children’s Hospital has been so fun and rewarding. As a volunteer in Pediatric Oncology, my duties were to play with the children and help them to forget they were sick. Although at times there were sad moments, this was usually a very happy experience. The kids were so resilient and brave, and they loved to laugh more than anything, which always made me laugh. Having this experience has not only helped me to understand the great need there are for more volunteers in healthcare here, but it made me realize how much more there is a need everywhere. Of course, there is a great staff of doctors, physician assistants, nurses, etc. that are available to patients, but they are extremely busy taking care of patients most of the time. The jobs as a volunteer involve just keeping a patient company by coloring with them or even helping a mom out with bath time because it can be hard for one person, especially in a hospital bathroom. There was one patient who I would just pull around in a wagon for hours because that was the only thing that made him feel less pain while his mom could go sneak out for some food or a shower. I think that having volunteers in hospitals is so important to patient care because it’s not always a fun stay for them and their parents. I would like to continue this work in volunteering with kids at Doernbecher and eventually in underserved countries where they don’t have as many people to play with or access to better healthcare.

Fighting for Labor Rights

by Julia

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase in the news or maybe in reference to the Raise the Minimum Wage campaign.  In terms of labor rights for day laborers, it’s probably something most people don’t think about.

Day laborers are most often seen gathered in busy intersections of town, waiting for an opportunity to make a few bucks doing some construction, landscaping, roofing or painting. Many times they are immigrants, looking for a way to support themselves in a harsh system that lends no mercy.

On the other hand, some employers will put workers in unsafe work conditions, exploit them, or even withhold wages. Without the safety net of citizenship or employer accountability, workers have no recourse. In Portland, Oregon, one organization is fighting to protect day laborers’ rights. They are the VOZ Worker’s Rights Education Project.

VOZ opened their day labor center in 2008 to give workers a safe, protected place to be, provide fair, minimum wage requirements, support transparency in hiring, and provide accountability for employers. They provide leadership development for workers and offer classes in safety, health, workers’ rights, ESL and negotiating with employers. Volunteer lawyers help workers reclaim stolen wages. Through organizing, day laborers learn to solve their problems by communicating and creating solutions. Cultural expression is shared through events, celebrations, music, poetry, and sharing stories.  Reaching beyond, VOZ supports campaigns for Immigration Reform,Police-ICE Collaboration, and Private Prison Divestment.

A diverse and inspiring group of people make up the staff, volunteers, and dedicated day laborers at the MLK Workers’ Center. Together they work to create a better community through education and programs sustaining workers’ rights.  These issues need to be realized on an individual level in order to propel change on a societal level. In the words of Gloria Steinem, “Whenever one person stands up and says, ‘Wait a minute, this is wrong,’ it helps other people do the same.”

Oregon Food Bank Regular

Volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank is not only rewarding for the community but oneself as well. Coming here, I originally thought I would be just doing another assignment for my course at Portland State University. Frankly, it’s probably not the first choice for anyone who aims to make a social change, in fact, for anyone who needed the hours would probably be one of the few that shows up. I originally attended for the hours because it was difficult for me to work around my current work and class schedule. Little did I know I would end up loving volunteering here and found myself wanting to continue my volunteering.

Particularly, I participated in both the Gardening and Food Repackaging programs and fell in love volunteering there because of being able to work within a interactive community and slowly taking the first steps to making a social change. What I have done here, activities wise, may not seem like much to others but here at the Oregon Food Bank, every hand counts and that was a fact that I learned when I soon discovered how understaffed this organization was.
The Oregon Food Bank relies on volunteers to come in to help grow food in the garden (Fruits and veggies), package these food and distribute them to other organizations who will take the responsibility to give it to those who need it. To see and understand how the number of volunteers that come in greatly varied, I soon came to learn that the Oregon Food Bank couldn’t get much work done and tasks fall behind schedule. By this, I mean during my personal volunteering experience, it was to my knowledge that there were food left from months back to be repackage because there wasn’t enough volunteers to do so then.
Instead of coming here and volunteering, I wanted to do something more for the community and that included ways to bring the community in together. Find out what makes people want to come in to volunteer that’s not just for an assignment but for the better good. I actively encourage people to come back or ask friends to come volunteering with me when possible even to the point of coming in without being in a course requirement.
This class, although had focused solely on social change opened up opportunities for me to try new things, gave me the time, and gave me multiple paths to choose from. If anyone who likes to volunteer or be active in this community, this course is something I would recommend to anyone because it’s entirely flexible around your schedule, you can choose where to volunteer and when to volunteer, and it’s overall interactive both with the professor and class. You can get help from anyone, advice, and even ideas. This isn’t a class to get lecture about making a change, it’s a course that allows you to take that first step. This is how I felt when I first came into the course, choose my organization and began volunteering. Not only did I end up enjoying where I had chose, I ended up staying as a regular as well.