Extraordinary Board Member (over 35)

Kreeg Peeples

Kreeg Peeples is ashamed to admit that years ago, when his son was collecting canned food for needy families, he wondered why the recipients didn’t just go get a job. “I didn’t understand then that they were getting the bad breaks that you and I didn’t,” he says. Spending three years as a board member for Potluck in the Park has helped change his mind. Today, in addition to volunteering for organizations such as Street Roots and the Blanchet House, among others, Peeples devotes at least three days a week to visiting food centers, planning meals, and then, on Sundays, preparing and serving healthy meals to the more than 400 people (and growing—attendance is up 20 percent over 2008) who arrive at O’Bryant Square every week. “We’re not just filling empty tummies,” Peeples ays. “There is a community here. The emotional paycheck I get is that people come back because they feel like they were cared about.” —KC

WISH LIST
Gasoline (for potluck trucks)
Paper plates, plastic utensils
Food

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Extraordinary Board Member (35 & Under)

Matt Morton

Only 34 percent of Native American students in Portland Public Schools graduate within four years. It’s a number that Matt Morton—board chair for the Native American Youth and Family Center, or NAYA, a 35-year-old advocacy and resource center for Portland’s nearly 38,000 Native Americans—takes personally.

“When I come home to my wife and 10-month-old son,” says the 35-year-old Native American from the Squaxin Island Tribe, “I see the importance of my work and the impact it will have on the next generation.”

Impact is exactly what Morton is determined to create. With the help of a committed board of directors, a talented staff, and a vibrant community, Morton is confident in his position as a strategist and community leader.

“It’s not hard to feel empowered when your community is a part of the decision-making process,” says Morton, who participates in regular meetings with elders and other community members. “I’ll do anything it takes to give them what they need and deserve.”

Anything it takes has proven to be a lot. In 2006, NAYA—which has seen its annual budget grow from $250,000 to $8 million in the past seven years—established a housing department that has provided opportunities for dozens of Native Americans to become homeowners. And four years ago, the center created a Summer Institute that offers high school students the chance to earn college credit by taking college-level courses. Today, 90 percent of students who complete the Summer Institute graduate from high school on time; 92 percent go on to college. Those are figures Morton should take personally, too.

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Extraordinary Volunteer

Jon Springer

There is little glory in paperwork, unless you’re Jon Springer, an Elders in Action volunteer who last year helped one elderly Portland couple write off more than $300,000 in medical debt. The nonprofit works to provide seniors with a better quality of life. Sometimes that’s as simple as offering a sympathetic ear, and sometimes it means tackling complex issues like medical debt. Springer waded through boxes and boxes of benefit statements, bills, collection letters, and financial aid applications, spent hours making phone calls, leaving messages, even writing e-mails to the associate director of hospital finance at OHSU. “It can be overwhelming,” says Springer, whose seven-year stint as a state employee assists him in navigating the hospital bureaucracy. “You just have to be patient, persistent, and polite.” —KC

WISH LIST
Volunteers to help with fundraising campaign
Camera or video equipment

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