Blogs: Community Services

Elizabeth Blackwell - first woman physicianLadies! Your health issues are different from those of the males in your life. Luckily, there are lots of resources around to help you learn more about your health.  

Did you know that the Food and Drug Administration has a page devoted to women? You can find information about medicine and pregnancy, heart health and women (did you know that women can experience the signs of a heart attack in different ways than men?) and much more.

The National Institutes of Health includes an Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), which partners with the other 27 National Institutes and Centers to “ensure that women’s health research is part of the scientific framework at the NIH—and throughout the scientific community.”

The ORWH has partnered with the National Library of Medicine to create a women’s health resources portal that links to many resources, including information for women veterans, the ORWH’s Primer for Women’s Health, alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse resources, information on exercise and fitness, and much more.

Womenshealth.gov is a site created by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH). Follow the OWH blog for up to date news and thoughts on womens’ health, search for information, or browse health topics A - Z. This site is also available in Spanish.

OWH also maintains a site for girls ages 10 - 16. At girlshealth.gov, girls can learn about health, fitness, nutrition, bullying, and more.

MedlinePlus, the National Institute of Health’s consumer website, is a great place to go for health information. The site contains a wealth of information about women’s health, including information on specific conditions, stages of life, prevention, and more. The site is also available in Spanish, and contains information about women’s health in Chinese (traditional) and Korean.

Multnomah County has a women’s services page, too, as well as a pregnancy resources page.  

Divorce, estate planning, landlord/tenant issues, immigration, arrests and citations... Life is full of legal questions. How do you search for answers without being taken for a ride? We can suggest some excellent resources that can help you out.

A good place to start is Oregon Legal Research, maintained by law librarians. Learn how to research the law and represent yourself in court; find the answers to frequently asked questions (When can I leave my kids home alone? Where can I get a free power of attorney form?); and more. They also maintain a comprehensive Oregon Legal Assistance Resources guide (pdf) that can help you find local organizations that specialize in legal areas including disability rights, bankruptcy, political activism, bicycle law and crime victims' rights.

Link to Legal Aid Services of OregonOregon Law Help provides free and verified legal information for Oregonians. There are articles in many languages to get you up-to-speed on your rights and resources when it comes to your home, your job, government benefits and more. The site also helps you find a Legal Aid office near you.    

The Oregon State Bar public information page has user-friendly legal information, assistance in finding and hiring a lawyer, links to low cost legal help and more.

The Oregon Judicial Department can help you file a case, find a legal form and represent yourself in court. Check out their page devoted to family law for assistance with child custody and support, divorce, domestic violence, and parenting plans. The Multnomah County Circuit Court website can help you answer your questions about Family Court.

If you have questions about your rights as a renter, you might want to contact the Community Alliance of Tenants. This statewide, grassroots, tenants-rights Link to Oregon Council of County Law Libraries.organization provides renters' rights information online; if you can't find the information you need, call the Renters’ Rights Hotline at 503-288-0130.

You can always contact us at the library and we can help you locate resources that might be helpful, or visit your local county law library for a wider range of materials.

Though we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.

Many-Talented VolunteerPicture of Grace Ramstad

by Donna Childs

Grace is a mature, gracious, and responsible high school sophomore and multi-purpose volunteer at the Troutdale Library. A lover of books, Grace began as a Summer Reading volunteer before 9th grade, but she has greatly expanded that role since.  

The best relationships are often ones in which everyone benefits. Grace and Troutdale Library have that kind of relationship. With the end of summer, and Summer Reading, Grace searched for other ways to be involved, which led her to Storytime and Teen Council. In the words of librarian Deborah Gitlitz, Grace “quickly demonstrated such warmth, quick thinking, and ability that I recruited her to join the Teen Council, serve as Storytime Assistant at Pajama Time, and this year to serve as one of our Summer Reading Leaders.”   

Grace spends 10-15 hours a week helping to organize everything, keeping track of toys and prizes, doing data entry and anything else that needs doing. For Storytime, she leads activities, sets an example of good behavior, helps set up and put away props, books, chairs. To quote Deborah Gitlitz again, she is “an enormous help in helping kids to get involved and feel welcome... she can even make name tag interactions into literacy moments.” At Teen Council, she helps design activities to attract young readers, advises librarians, and serves as liaison between youth and library staff.  

Grace’s commitment to volunteerism doesn't end at the library. She is a member of her high school debate team, participating in meets with other schools, and is active in her school’s Future Business Leaders of America. One of five children (two older, a twin brother, and a younger sister) Grace has a full, active, and useful life, happily for her and for the Troutdale Library.

 

A Few Facts About Grace

Home library: Troutdale Library

Currently reading: Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand)

Most influential book: The Boxcar Children (Gertrude Chandler Warner)

Favorite book from childhood: The Boxcar Children 

A book that made you laugh or cry: The Fault in our Stars (John Green)

Favorite section of the library: The YA section

E-reader or paper book? Paper book

Favorite guilty reading pleasure: Corny romance books

Favorite place to read: On my couch

 

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Holding HandsBecoming a caregiver is a life-changing event. Maybe it starts gradually, with a bit of household help now and again, or maybe it starts with the sudden shock of a phone call in the night. Whatever your situation, take heart in knowing that you are not alone. A wealth of resources is available to support you.

Multnomah County

When you don’t know where to turn first, the Multnomah County Aging & Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) Helpline is a good place to start. Information and assistance is available to seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers 24 hours a day. Call 503-988-3646 Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm, to reach the most knowledgeable staff. Through this same number, you can contact the Family Caregiver Support Program, which offers services that can take some of the burden off unpaid caregivers.

Elders in Action is another great local resource. Through their Personal Advocate Services, trained volunteers help older adults and link individuals to community resources. They focus in the area of housing, healthcare, crime, and elder abuse. Personal Advocate volunteers assist older adults in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties.

Oregon

The Aging and Disability Resource Connection is a resource directory for Oregon families, caregivers, and consumers seeking information about long-term support and services. Here you will find quick and easy access to information about resources in your community.

National

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) knows that caregiving can be overwhelming. Through their Caregiving Resource Center, you can connect with caregiving resources both local and far away. Topics covered include Planning & Resources, Benefits & Insurance, Legal & Money Matters, Care for Yourself, Providing Care, Senior Housing, End-of-Life Care, and Grief & Loss. Caregiving Tools include a Care Provider Locator, a Long-Term Care Calculator, and even a Caregiving Glossary.

Caregivers for persons with Alzheimer’s and dementia face special challenges. The Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver’s Center can help arm you with the information you need to handle those challenges, whether you’re facing them now or need to be preparing for the future. Also through the Caregiver’s Center, you can locate local support groups, which can become an indispensable source of information and emotional support.

The Family Caregiver Alliance provides information on all aspects of caregiving, from public policy and research to practical tips on caregiving. Fact sheets on multiple issues are available in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Caregiver’s Magazine is an online magazine for, about, and by caregivers. Here you will find first-hand stories of others’ caregiving journeys, as well as an online bookstore and tips on resources and strategies.

There are 65.7 million family caregivers in the US--29% of the adult population--and caregiving affects the whole family. The National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of over 50 national organizations focused on family caregiving. The organization identifies new trends and sheds light on the varying needs of caregivers nationwide.

Caregiving is challenging enough when Mom is next door. What if she’s in Chicago? Or Boston? Having an ally on the ground to help you assess the situation can be exactly the extra bit of assistance you need to make sure that all goes well. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers can help you locate a professional Geriatric Care Manager, a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives.

If you’re a primary caregiver, or if you’re coordinating care at a distance, no doubt you know what it’s like to feel as if you don’t have enough hands, or enough hours in the day, to do everything that needs to be done. Lotsa Helping Hands harnesses the power of community and links it through an online service to provide help when it’s needed. You can create your own community and ask for help, without having to make a dozen phone calls or feel that you’re putting friends on the spot.


Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself! The stories of other caregivers and how they’ve handled their challenges may give you the ideas you need to take care of yourself.

Contributed by jennyw

Whatever Needs to Be Done

Picture of Sachiko Vidourek

by Mindy Moreland

“Quietly doing tremendous good” is a fitting description of Library Outreach Services, which brings library service to our community’s homebound, homeless, and incarcerated populations. Sachiko Vidourek is one of many volunteers helping this department to thrive; her dedication and flexibility have made her a valued part of the LOS team. Sachiko works with the adult literacy coordinator and the library outreach specialists, with a job description that could read  “whatever needs to be done.” Each week she performs tasks ranging from data entry and preparing materials for citizenship classes to shelving materials and labeling shelves. Sachiko also helps the staff with more abstract problems, brainstorming issues of process, organization, and programming. “Sometimes I might suggest something ridiculous, but it gives a different perspective,” Sachiko says with a warm smile. “When someone has an idea, even if it’s the wrong idea it helps give clarity to the problem.”

 

"If I was a librarian, I'd want to work for LOS."

Sachiko has been drawn to libraries since she was a child. Growing up in Ohio, she used to walk three and a half blocks (an epic journey at the time, she recalls) to visit the local library, where she participated in Summer Reading and was fascinated by the pre-digital checkout machines. As an art history student in college she loved spending time in the cozy art and architecture library, and even considered a career as a librarian. Today she manages the gourmet chocolate shop Cacao, and enjoys the serenity of her volunteer hours in the Library Outreach as a respite from her bustling customer service job. She takes great satisfaction, she says, in the balance of the concrete progress and philosophical problem-solving that volunteering at the library affords. Perhaps most importantly, she adores working with the LOS team, who she describes as quirky, fun, and deeply dedicated to the amazing work they quietly do. “I feel really appreciated there,” she says fondly. “If I was a librarian, I’d want to work for LOS.”

 

A Few Facts About Sachiko

Home library: Hillsdale Library

Currently reading: Technically I'm in between books. I just finished The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. A good friend gave me Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane for Christmas, and I think that's next. But I also have in-hand-and-waiting Lost Japan (Alex Kerr) and the start of the latest series by Jacquline Carey. I find that my list of books to explore grows faster than I can read, and I often get sidetracked on my way to a particular book.

Most influential book: Books by Alistair MacLean shaped me the most growing up in middle school. Also influential was Setting the Table (Danny Meyers) which sounds like a cooking book but is really about hospitality. Others titles include Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter (Edmund Lawler) and Joy of Cooking (Irma Rombauer et al.).

Favorite book from childhood: Only one?! I loved Dr. Seuss, Encyclopedia Brown (Donald J. Sobol), and Key to the Treasure (Peggy Parrish), but what I still have on my shelves as an adult are The King and His Friends (Jose Aruego), Max (Rachel Isadora), and A Pair of Red Clogs (Masako Matsuno). Just couldn't give 'em up.

A book that made you laugh or cry: Press Here (Herve Tullet), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie) and Dog Heaven (Cynthia Rylant)

Favorite section of the library: Usually Young Adult

E-reader or paper book? Paper, paper, paper! (But I might say e-reader later when I need bigger fonts and my glasses aren't enough.)

Favorite guilty reading pleasure: Jacqueline Carey & fantasy in general

Favorite place to read: On the couch with the dog!

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Data Guru

by Donna Childs

Picture of Peter Reader

Peter Reader has made a career of helping people find and use information. Information is only useful if it can be accessed and organized—and that’s where Peter comes in. Renaissance man, Peter grew up in Nome, Alaska, and majored in music in college. Music has been a lifelong love—he plays the accordion and sings with the Bach Cantata Choir. Peter lived in an Eskimo village and worked as a realtor. He started his 30-year career in Alaska and the continental US with the Bureau of Land Management and later moved into administration. He became fascinated with computers in the 60’s, long before the personal computer, and discovered that he loved programming. Among other things, he helped build a payroll system for Bonneville Power Administration. After retiring in 1994, he volunteered at his local NE Portland police precinct, building a database since they had none. This led to a dozen years of running his own consulting business. 


When he retired a second time, he approached the Multnomah County Library to offer his skills. June Bass, Program Manager in Volunteer Services, put him to work on the volunteer database containing hundreds of volunteers from all 19 library branches. For the past 7 years, Peter has worked two days a week on the volunteer database, transferring and tweaking information, creating reports, entering volunteer information, and deleting anything redundant or outdated. The library has substantially overhauled its database twice during these years, keeping Peter especially busy. In 2009 he received a county-wide volunteer award for his work with the new database. June Bass says, “I cannot imagine any volunteer program implementing a new database without a person like Peter...” Aptly named, Peter Reader is also an enthusiastic reader, especially of science fiction. He and his wife have a library of more than 2000 books, in addition to an extensive collection of classical music CDs.

A Few Facts About Peter

Home library: Albina Library

Currently reading: I just finished Rick Atkinson’s trilogy on World War II.

Most influential book: No one book, but Tolkien blew me away in the 60’s.

Favorite book from childhood: A Treasury of American Folklore, ed. by B.A. Botkin (I have used up four copies.)

A book that made you laugh or cry: H. Allen Smith—anything by him.

Favorite section of the library: Science fiction

E-reader or paper book? Paper 

Favorite place to read: In my room

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Guest Blog Post by Janet Hawkins, Community Action Coordinator, Department of County Human ServicesTax Filing Services Can Save You Big $

It's tax time again!  And lots of consumers go into the marketplace looking for commercial tax preparation services or expensive on-line software for completing their tax forms. Unfortunately, it’s definitely a buyer beware situation out there. 

Don’t pay for expensive tax preparation software you may not need. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers free tax preparation software to individuals whose income is less than $58,000. Visit the IRS website at irs.gov to learn more about accessing the brand-name software that can be downloaded for e-filing. 

Be sure to avoid tax preparation companies that charge high fees or emphasize predatory tax refund offers. The National Consumer Law Center’s “2013 Report on Tax-Time Financial Products” reports that over 80% of American households receive a tax refund when they file their tax returns. This high refund rate has generated an industry geared toward taking advantage of low-income, working households. Many tax preparation companies have developed financial products like “refund anticipation” checks or loans as well as tax refund buying schemes to prey upon taxpayers who need immediate cash. Fees or interest charges for these financial services or products, which are typically deducted from the taxpayer’s refund, may end up costing hundreds of dollars.     

The National Consumer Law Center report also documents classic “bait and switch” practices like the company that charged twice as much for their services as had been advertised to consumers. Households with bank accounts are much better off to forgo the refund anticipation checks or refund buying schemes and wait for the IRS to electronically deposit their tax refund. The IRS refunds normally take only 21 days or less from the date of e-filing your tax return. 

What’s a taxpayer to do?  There are two reliable options for receiving free tax assistance in Multnomah County.

  • CASH Oregon is a non-profit organization that provides free tax assistance to consumers.  Worried about quality?  Their volunteer tax preparers are IRS trained and certified.  Visit their website to learn more: www.cashoregon.org
  • AARP Tax-Aide serves people of all ages.  They have a contract with IRS to provide tax preparation services in library branches, community centers, and other locations. Their volunteer preparers are also IRS trained and certified.  Call AARP at 1-888-227-7669 to find a free tax preparation site near you or visit www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide to learn more.

Need more information on local tax preparation resources?  Contact 211info, a local information and referral service, by calling 2-1-1. 211’s staff can provide more details on local services.

 

Library Borrowers Make the Best Volunteers

by Mindy Moreland

Picture of Karen Hein

In the summer of 1971, Karen Hein was visiting the Rockwood Library when a sign on the wall caught her eye and changed the course of her life. “Library Borrowers Make the Best Employees,” the poster read. Karen, an avid lover of libraries, thought that this was well worth investigating. Soon after, she was hired on as a clerk at Rockwood (where, she recalls, she earned the princely sum of $1.95 per hour), and so began a 34-year career with Multnomah County Library.  

As she moved up the responsibility ladder,  from branch to branch, Karen served countless patrons and bore witness to the library’s transition into the digital age. She remembers composing seemingly endless lists of children’s books on a typewriter at Central, tells of the delight of a colleague upon successfully transferring files to a (truly floppy) disk for the first time, and remembers overseeing Gresham’s first public internet computers. Today she appreciates the ease with which holds can be processed thanks to RFID, and is exploring the world of digital audiobooks on her iPad.

 

"It's a very comfortable place for me to be. I feel at home."Karen retired as a supervisor from the Gresham branch in October 2005, but that was only one more turning point in her journey with the library, rather than the story’s end. She presently volunteers as a Branch Assistant, and continues to enjoy watching the library grow and change around her.

Although the Gresham branch is Karen’s neighborhood library, she makes a weekly journey to Central, where she spent the lion’s share of her career, to process holds and catch up with former colleagues. Coming to Central lets her take regular advantage of downtown Portland’s shops, movie theaters, and restaurants. A window table at Jake’s Grill is a favorite for a leisurely lunch, though she still mourns the passing of the august Georgian Room at Meier and Frank’s.  

Karen even speaks of the Central building itself like an old friend, fondly recalling hot summer days in the early 1990s before the building underwent renovation, when she could open the Popular Library’s tree-shaded windows to let in a cool breeze. And after so many years together, it seems only natural to drop in weekly to catch up. Karen says that while she understands that many people might find it a bit strange to volunteer at their former place of employment, she’s pleased to have the opportunity to stay involved with a place and an institution she enjoys.

“I like the atmosphere,” Karen says with a smile. “It’s a very comfortable place for me to be. I feel at home.” It seems that Library Borrowers do indeed make the Best Employees … and the Best Volunteers, too.

A Few Facts About Karen

Home library: Gresham Library

Currently reading: The Well-Read Cat by Michèle Sacquin

Most influential book: Into Thin Air by John Krakauer

Favorite book from childhood: Any horse stories by Marguerite Henry

Favorite section of the library: Periodicals

E-reader or paper book? Paper book

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries on audiobook

Favorite place to read: In bed

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

Fostering Computer Literacy in Gresham

by Donna Childs

Photo of Dick Pyne

Dedication, respect, collegiality, enthusiasm, fulfillment - these are the words that came to mind after meeting Richard Pyne, the volunteer computer instructor at Gresham Library.  Dick is a tech-savvy retired electrical engineer who values being useful.  He teaches computer classes specially designed for older adults and brought to the library through a partnership with OASIS, a national organization devoted to lifelong learning for adults over 50. Dick teaches twice a week in a lovely media-filled room dedicated to that purpose.  On the first day, his “Meet the Computer” students spend their two-hour sessions focusing on basics, from turning on the computer to email.  Many have been given computers by children or grandchildren and want to use email with their family.  On the second day, his more advanced students focus on becoming proficient in Microsoft Office programs—Word, Excel, PowerPoint--often working on resumes or other career-related tasks. Dick is a popular teacher, and many of his basic students move on to the more advanced class.  He spends many hours outside the classes preparing material and setting up the computers for the students.

In addition to a varied career in both the engineering and business sides of his field, Dick has volunteered as a GED teacher, a cooking instructor, and at OMSI.  His heart is with OMSI and the library.  In addition to respecting the missions of both organizations, he feels valued as a colleague by staff at both places, feeling that he and the staff are working together to help the public.  

Thanks to his dedication and competence, at OMSI he has worked his way up from greeter, to Speaker’s Bureau, to being a one-man outreach department, traveling to more than 30 neighborhood events to talk about OMSI.  Likewise, at the library he has worked his way up from shelving, to some computer training at Rockwood to his present position as instructor at Gresham.  "I’d be happy to stay here forever," he said.  It sounds like everyone would benefit from that.

A Few Facts About Dick

Home library: Gresham Library

Currently reading: I often read multiple books at once; for instance, recently I was reading a tech manual and Phantom of the Opera.  I often read non-fiction, but also occasionally a fiction writer such as Dan Brown.

Most influential book: Definitely the management book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.

Favorite book from childhood: Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders about a badly abused dog, though it had a happy ending!  I read and reread it for several years.

A book that made you laugh or cry: I don’t know.  I think I read too many serious books.

Favorite section of the library: The tech section, though I like to roam all the library aisles and see what I find.

E-reader or paper book? Despite being a techie, I prefer paper books.

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Books I enjoy, even though I know they have no real literary merit.  I am still working to convince myself that it really is OK to just read to relax in a sort of mindless way.

Favorite place to read: In the family room with music. In addition to reading, our entertainment often includes Great Courses DVD’s. I haven’t watched TV in 20 years.  I get news on the internet.

 

 

Booktalking Is Her Dream Job

by Mindy Moreland

Photo of Anne Shalas


During her more than three decades as an elementary school teacher, Anne Shalas’ favorite part of each day was the chance to share books and new ideas with her students. When she retired from teaching, she missed her classroom, and those special hours.  Fortunately, the library’s Books 2 U program now provides her with a chance to visit schools county-wide, sharing new stories with young people and encouraging a lifetime of reading.

Anne serves as a Book Talker, one of a special group of volunteers in the Books 2 U program who bring paperback books to targeted classrooms around Multnomah County. Book Talkers visit 3rd through 6th grade classes, bringing armloads of books for the students to check out from their in-classroom library. Each Book Talker visit features a fun, high-energy presentation of new titles, an aspect of the position that Anne particularly enjoys. “I get to be a ham,” she says, adding that her natural introversion seems to vanish when she has the chance to perform for a group of students. Thanks to her talents, and those of her fellow volunteers, the Books 2 U program now reaches more than 25,000 students at 49 schools, as well as a robust summer outreach program.     

Now in her fifth year as a Book Talker, Anne relishes the connections she has with her former school, thanks to Books 2 U, as well as the chance to connect with students and watch them grow. Anne compares the experience of being a Book Talker to that of being a classroom grandparent, able to experience all the best parts of classroom teaching all over again while helping hundreds of new students each year to get excited about reading. “It’s the absolute perfect dream retirement position,” she says.

A Few Facts About Anne

Home library: Albina Library

Currently reading: In Falling Snow by Mary Rose MacColl and just finished How Children Succeed by Paul Tough.

Most influential book: No one book has been a predominant influence.  Poetry probably has had more of an influence on me: A. E. Housman, W.H. Auden and Robert Frost.

Favorite book from childhood: Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders about a badly abused dog, though it had a happy ending!  I read and reread it for several years.

A book that made you laugh or cry: I laugh at a number of authors, PJ O’Rourke, Dave Barry, A. J. Jacobs, Richard Peck, PG Wodehouse, but one that made me laugh and cry both was a book by Caitlin Moran, called How to be a Woman.  Moran is someone I think of as a British Tina Fey.

Favorite section of the library: I enjoy the new and Lucky Day sections, but can spend ages just perusing the shelves.  I just love books and the atmosphere of being in the library.

E-reader or paper book? Paper books, no contest, especially the feel and smell of a new book's pages.

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Books I enjoy, even though I know they have no real literary merit.  I am still working to convince myself that it really is OK to just read to relax in a sort of mindless way.

Favorite place to read: We have a fabulous soft rocking chair in our big front window, and also we have bird feeders in our back yard.  In warmer weather, I can sit out there quietly. The birds are used to me, especially my little chickadees, and will flock around if I am fairly still.

 

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

 

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