Belmont Library Renovation Update

Did you know that the Multnomah County library system is the fourth busiest in the nation? Or that the Belmont Library has more items on hold than any other branch in the county (3,000 at any one time)? I didn’t. We learned this and more at our November General meeting. Katie O’Dell, Multnomah County Library’s Capital Bond Deputy Director, gave us the big picture on the 2020 bond, which will both modernize the existing library system and help renovate libraries like our beloved Belmont branch. The updates include a centralized sorting center, a technology system called Automated Materials Handling (AMH), and access to more than 1.6 million items. The renovation of the Belmont Branch–which will happen in fall of 2024–will more than double the current library’s size. (There will be a second floor, but the building’s footprint will also get slightly bigger.) The expansion will allow for an increase in the number of materials—in both English and Spanish—and will add additional spaces for people including a teen lounge, an upstairs reading room, more flexible program space and possibly an outdoor terrace. Jeanie Lai, one of the architects from Bora Architects, shared the current sketches (the design is still being hammered out) and said that they are taking cues from the neighborhood, keeping the library at a residential scale. There will be a new entrance (still on the Cesar Chavez Boulevard side of the street, but further north), more bike parking (closer to the building), and a more generous 15-foot right-of-way—with a wider sidewalk and trees planted close to the curb. The community was asked to fill out a survey (812 people responded), and there have been three interactive workshops for the community so far. Check for updates including future public meeting dates.

SNACC Update

The SNACC (Sunnyside Neighborhood Community Care) Committee had a productive meeting on October 5th. We discussed the need for different types of volunteer activities at the Shower Project, including organizing supplies and taking inventory. We also talked about how volunteers need to be more mindful of how our conversations impact our guests – putting them front-and-center rather than focusing on ourselves or our (comparatively privileged) lives. We also discussed the need for further trainings around Trauma Informed Care (TIC), CPR and first aid training, and a Narcan training. 

We will be holding a Narcan training for all Shower Project volunteers and guests on November 12th with a harm reduction coordinator from Instituto Latino Recovery Center and our very own Josette Hodge. We also discussed the Clothing Drive and brainstormed partner agencies we could invite to be there. (See below for more info on the winter clothing drive.) The next SNACC meeting will be on December 7th at 6:30 p.m. 

Winter Clothing Drive

For the 4th year in a row, the SNACC committee is organizing a Winter Clothing Drive for our houseless neighbors. The drive will be on Saturday, December 9th in the basement of the Sunnyside Methodist Church/The Groves on 35th and Yamhill. A crew of volunteers will be on hand to collect donations of winter clothing and gear from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. The main event will be held from 2 – 6 p.m. that same day.

Here are some of the things we especially need (for all genders): 

• Pants, jeans, and sweatpants
• Sweaters and sweatshirts
• T-shirts – short and long-sleeved
• Long underwear
• New underwear (men’s and women’s)
• New or lightly worn socks (wool preferred)
• Raincoats/winter coats
• Boots, tennis shoes, hiking shoes
• Tarps, tents, sleeping bags
• Warm hats, gloves, scarves, and belts

Please do not donate children’s clothing or dressy/formal clothing. 

We will be promoting the event to our shower guests, partner agencies, and local businesses (and on our Instagram at @sunnysideshowerproject). If you would like to help publicize the event or if your workplace wants to donate gear, clothing, or gift cards, please reach out to Diana Deumling at [email protected].

Sunnyside Neighbor Giving Back

A week ago, I got an email from an unfamiliar name. The woman, Lynn Sims, had been a caretaker for Judy Barnes, a 20-year Sunnyside resident. Barnes, who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at a young age, had gone blind and needed help with various daily tasks. Sims wrote, “Of course I read her all her mail—and it was a favorite of hers to have me read the Sunnyside News. That’s how we found out about the Shower Program. Judy died June 11th, peacefully, with the help of Providence Hospice & End of Life Choices. As per her wishes I am making her donation and sending thanks for all your good work!” She then informed me that she had just made a $100 donation to the Sunnyside Shower Project.

Barnes, who had a BA in psychology from Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, was an excellent cook and gardener who loved classical music and history. Despite being legally blind at age 27, she began work at the Department of Labor in Washington D.C. as a correspondence analyst. After working there ten years, Barnes became disabled due to her RA. She moved to California and then eventually to Portland. In the early 1990s, Judy worked vigorously in support of public power and clean energy futures by promoting Public Utility Districts (PUD) with a broad grassroots coalition. She supported many progressive causes. She is survived by her sisters, Rebecca Shircliff and Cecelia Barnes.

We are so incredibly touched by this generous donation and wanted to publicly acknowledge both Barnes, who loved Sunnyside, and her caretaker, Lynn Sims.