Making Miracles

[Photo: External view of The Miracles Club] PORTLAND - The Recovery Act is helping make miracles in northeast Portland.

Oregonian columnist Anna Griffin first visited The Miracles Club, a treatment center for recovering addicts, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard four years ago.

She wasn't impressed, finding a rented facility that was "dark and musty, too, hot in the summer, too cold in the winter and too small for the crowds that form more than a dozen times each week for 12-step meetings."

No surprise, too, that she heard the addicts' "almost uniformly sad" stories, stories of "bad choices, broken families and ruined lives." Nonetheless, she left inspired, maybe by the woman who once had "sold her body to buy drugs" but was now celebrating 15 years of sobriety and, better still, the graduation of her daughter from college. "Just about everyone there," Griffin noted, "stood as a living monument to the power of faith and perseverance."

Soon enough that faith was tested. The Miracles Club ran into some roadblocks. Neighbors, said Griffin, complained about noise. The building's owner had gotten an offer to sale, one he was hard-pressed to refuse. The Miracle Club needed a miracle.

It found it in the faith of its members who went to work raising money and, maybe even more importantly, making telephone calls. Calls, for example, to City Commissioner Dan Saltzman. "I was impressed with the number and vehemence of the calls," he told Griffin, that "we even got calls from police officers who credited Miracles Club with turning around the lives of people who they used to arrest."

The Commissioner got the message, loud and clear. He went to work on his colleagues in City Hall, persuading them to donate $500,000 to the effort. Since then, others have stepped forward, Low income housing tax credits were secured and the Oregon Housing and Community Services which has allocated $1 million in TCAP funds provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to the cause.

The result? A "dark and musty" Miracles Club very soon will be a thing of the past. On July 7th the Club broke ground for a miracle of its own – a brand-new, $12 million, five-story building across the Boulevard from its present home. It'll include plenty of space for its treatment and counseling programs as well as 40 affordable apartment units for those who've been "clean" for at least 18 months.

"You might not like the idea of using public money for anything other than the most basic government services," Griffin noted. But a new facility, she observed, "could even wind up saving taxpayer money – fewer drug addicts, fewer drug-related crimes, fewer children in foster care, fewer overdose cases in Portland emergency rooms."

The groundbreaking event, Griffin added, included a "who's who of Portland power brokers" who, though "nobody said it out loud" were gathered to celebrate the "fact that sometimes we get our priorities exactly right."


Content Archived: December 23, 2013