Most with the Least

Chess for Success

Chess is a sneaky game, says Phillip Margolin, the first president of Chess for Success (CFS), a nonprofit that introduces underprivileged children to the game. “[With chess], you have to focus, think two or three steps ahead, and realize the consequences of your actions,” says Margolin, who struggled academically as a child until he gained confidence through chess. “It tricks kids into learning study skills.” In fact, a 2006 Congressional study revealed that a higher percentage of CFS kids exceeded math and reading standards than a comparison group of their peers. Any child can participate in the six-month-long program for free; CFS pays the $75 it costs to support one student for the duration of the program. “Pound for pound, it’s the best nonprofit in the country,” Margolin claims. Of course, he’s biased. But Governor Ted Kulongoski isn’t. And in 2007, the governor wrote a grant to increase the funding for CFS in the state’s education budget. —EB

An LCD projector
Volunteer instructors

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Keeping Us Healthy

Quest Center for Integrative Health

“If not for [my erstwhile beau], I wouldn’t have caught that gumdrop-size nodule over my heart for a good while longer,” wrote Viva Las Vegas, local author and exotic dancer, in a story about her journey through breast cancer published in Portland Monthly. And if it hadn’t been for the Quest Center, which provides integrative health care—from group therapy to acupuncture—for low-income individuals, she might not have made it through sane. “When I was a complete mess,” Viva says, “I knew I could trust them to help me make some of the toughest decisions of my life.” Founded 20 years ago in response to the AIDS crisis, Quest’s reach has extended beyond one disease. Last year alone, the center treated 2,000 people. “We will see anybody who needs care,” says executive director David Eisen. “By providing a culture of compassion, we help people make life changes so they can better themselves.” —KO

Volunteer cooks and cleaners
Desks, chairs, and office furniture
Volunteers with maintenance skills

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Honoring Our Elders

Garden Partners

White patio chairs may surround Regency Park Assisted Living & Memory Care’s backyard garden, but the colorful collage of lamb’s ears, poppies, mums, rosemary, and mint isn’t just for lounging. Regency Park residents create the sensational display with the assistance of Garden Partners, a 10-year-old nonprofit dedicated to engaging elders by helping them care for plants. For an hour or two each week, residents at five Portland-area senior communities snip, clip, and water their way to better mental health. (Research has shown that gardening can improve seniors’ emotional well-being and their memory.) “There’s not a lot of negativity in a garden,” says Garden Partners executive director Neah Bay Douglas. Gardening, she adds, also inspires residents to share stories. “You have residents asking one another, ‘Did you used to grow this? I used to grow this.’” And the only thing better than sharing those memories is creating new ones. —MH

Pots, plants, and soil
Garden hand tools, gloves
Volunteers with gardening experience

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