Last month, I was happy to attend a meeting of the Somali American Council Of Oregon, graciously hosted by the Central Northeast Neighbors coalition which is supported by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. CNN is co-housed in a Portland Fire & Rescue station.
We had a friendly discussion about joys and challenges experienced by New Portlanders and longtime immigrants - many of the Somali leaders have lived here for 20 years or more. A recent Colored Pencils exhibit at the Multnomah Center in SW Portland was noted as a highlight, along with the rapid progress of the newly-formed Somali American Youth organization. Difficulty getting a franchise to form a new taxi cab company was mentioned as a frustration.
Right to left: Lul Abdulle, Fatma (3-1/2 yrs), Halima Mohamed, Amanda Fritz, Uma Abdullahi and Musse Olol.
Uma was Madison High School's Rose Festival Princess. When she stood next to me, I exclaimed, "Wow, I get to stand next to the Princess!" To which she promptly and graciously replied, "Wow, I get to stand next to the Commissioner!" If you read the Oregonian's article about Uma, you'll see why I was happy to be with her.
All the participants in SACOO are inspirational in their personal stories of survival and now success in Portland. I am glad to be their Commissioner in charge of Neighborhood Involvement and the New Portlanders program in the Office of Human Relations.