Clackamas High Teens Garner $12k for Portland Immigrant and Refugee AID


Clackamas High School (CHS) students are working for a better future through the program CommuniCare, which gives out grants. Teens are asked to find a problem they care about and work to make it better as part of a community service program.

They decided to raise money this year to help the immigrant and refugee communities in the Portland Metro area.

“There is a difference in the quality of life that we see every day with these students,” said Emily Garza, who runs the program’s events at CHS. “And we want to do as much as we can to help ease some of that.”

Garza is one of 1,800 students who work with CommuniCare to make grants. Thank you to the SchnitzerCARE Foundation, which owns CommuniCare, the program is now in 39 schools in Portland. But this isn’t any old-school group. Students are told to step up and solve problems in their neighborhoods that affect real people.

“We are kind of the future of this society,” Ethan Parker, a student in the class at CHS, said. “We are the people that are going to be in those bigger decisions later on in our lives.”

The students are in charge and make all the choices. They write the questions, choose a mission statement, and interview the groups that applied to get some of the $12,000 that CHS students raised this school year.

“We trust them as adults,” said Kristen Engfors-Boess, who runs the CommuniCare program. “From the outside, we watch how they do things.” It does what it says it will do when it comes to youth leadership. We want the young people to understand that they can help fix those problems. that we value their thoughts. They are welcome to join us at the table.

Some kids are also very interested in this year’s subject. The older Maksym Shershun is a good example of this. He is from Ukraine and came to Portland last January to escape the war.

“You have no idea how hard it could be for newcomers to this country,” Shershun said. “Especially those who don’t speak English at all or barely speak it.” Because I had to go through those hard times on my own and help my mom a lot with that.

Of course, students want to make a change in their community, and they’d like to see more resources for immigrants and refugees everywhere.

“I would be glad to see improvements to help newcomers in this country,” Shershun said.

All 39 schools in the Portland Metro Area raised more than $1 million, which will be given straight to charities this year. All of this was possible because the SchnitzerCARE Foundation matched gifts 10 times over.

It has raised and given nearly $4.2 million to more than 400 schools and charities over the last 26 years.

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