A renewal project offering HEALING, HOMES & HOPE for the people of Portland
At the new Garlington Center, we are combining affordable housing with a community wellness center as well as behavioral health and primary healthcare services, along Portland’s historic NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard corridor. (See map.)
The center is named for the Reverend Dr. John W. Garlington Jr. Before their sudden passing in 1986, Rev. Garlington and his wife Yvonne were prominent members of the Portland community. Their life-long service and commitment to African American families and community members resonates today in the mission of the Garlington Center.
The Garlington Center will offer a revolutionary approach to healthcare and wellness, creating partnerships across several key public service agencies and providing healing, homes and hope to members of our community who need it most.
Improvements to the Garlington Center also offer an opportunity for restoring the vitality of Portland’s historic Albina District and Eliot Neighborhood by bringing living wage jobs, affordable homes and improvements to community space.
This project is in its early design phase. Cascadia hopes to begin construction in summer 2016. Current programing at Garlington Center will continue at a nearby location during construction.
Questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.
Community Connections at Garlington Center
Connections at Cascadia’s Garlington Center run deep and wide. From the history of the Garlington Center’s origins to where the center got its name, thousands of people recognize it as an important community cornerstone.
The Garlington Center building at 3034 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was built in the 1930s. Over the years it has served home to a variety of businesses and nonprofits. For many years, it was the neighborhood grocery store Keno’s. After the store closed, the building periodically sat empty. Nike opened its first Portland Community Store at the site before rebuilding down the street. The building later became home to other nonprofits and small businesses, until Cascadia purchased it from Howard and Jane Glazer in 2005.
A mural on the north side of the building has been a part of the urban streetscape along NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. since 1992, and a year-round garden built on an unimproved corner of the site provides both sanctuary and food. A professional gardener harvests fresh fruits and vegetables weekly for people at the Center and partner clinic North by Northeast Community Health.
Neighborhood & Legacy of Displacement
Historically, Garlington Center has been a place where communities of color in North and Northeast Portland felt safe getting the treatment they needed from people they trust. As the city of Portland endeavors to address the legacy of displacement and gentrification in the area, Cascadia is committed to exploring ways that Garlington Center may help address and inform these issues.
Since the center moved to this site in 2006, Cascadia leadership have served as elected board members of the Eliot Neighborhood Association. The Garlington Center has held a Good Neighbor Agreement with the neighborhood since 2007.
Providing mental health and addictions services in our community means working together to find the best avenues for healing, homes and hope.
Below is a list of community resources Cascadia is collaborating with to help inform the Garlington Center project. (Note: Links are provided for informational/resource use only and do not imply a current or active partnership.)
Legacy Emanuel History: Acknowledging the Past, Embracing the Future
Eliot Oral History Project
Central City Concern
National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM)
Healing Hurt People
Homeless & Housing Services
NxNE Community Health Cente
VA Supportive Housing (VASH)
Portland Community Reinvestment Initiative (PCRI)
Multnomah County Health
Oregon Health Authority
Oregon Food Bank
The Garlington Center opened in 1980 as North-Northeast Community Mental Health Inc. At the time, Oregon, and the rest of the country, was in the process of de-institutionalizing the mental health care system. Due to lack of infrastructure, patients discharged from the state mental institutions sometimes had no homes and nowhere to go.
To care and provide services for these new arrivals, Multnomah County established four community-based nonprofit mental health care providers; North-Northeast Community Mental Health Inc. was one of these four.
The nonprofit’s mental health care and addictions services clinic served North and Northeast Portland for the next decade, establishing a place where important cultural and neighborhood connections developed among the city’s minority populations.
Each year, more than 1,000 men, women and children experiencing problems in school, suicidal thoughts, mental health crises or needing specialized housing or skills training sought help at the center.
Garlington Center Begins
In October 1989, the clinic was renamed Garlington Center — dedicated in honor of the late Rev. John Garlington Jr. and his wife, Yvonne Garlington, who together had established a compassionate voice for Portland’s African American population within the social services community.
For several years, Garlington Center continued to provide mental health care and addictions services to hundreds of adults and children in need. The center and its staff became known for specializing in outreach services to minorities and youth.
But as funding mechanisms changed for mental health services, the organizations managing Garlington Center clinic struggled to stay afloat. The clinic was eventually renamed Northeast Mental Health.
In 2002, the clinic became part of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, which under the direction of Multnomah County merged all four of its community-based mental health care providers back into one organization.
Funding began to stabilize and Cascadia looked to improve its Northeast Portland clinic so it could continue to meet the programming needs of the community.
In July 2006, Cascadia celebrated a reopening of the clinic as Garlington Center at 3034 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. In addition to continuing services at the clinic, the large renovated building provided an expanded place for administrative offices and housing services.
By early 2008, market forces caused Multnomah County to consider another major reorganization of its mental health care services. News spread that changes at Cascadia could mean closing the Garlington Center. In July, the community rallied to keep the center open. Two other Cascadia clinics were redistributed to other organizations and Garlington Center remained in service.
Three months later, a suspicious fire severely damaged Garlington Center. Immediately, RV’s were set up in the parking lot and more than 500 people continued to seek services in mobile units or at temporary sites nearby. This temporary setup remained in place for almost a year while the fire-damaged building was repaired.
In September 2009, Garlington Center reopened as a phoenix, “rising from the ashes.” Staff built on their community connections to create a team of providers willing to go the extra mile for the people they serve.
Garlington Center Today
Today, Cascadia continues its effort to improve access to services in North and Northeast Portland. Volunteers provide donated extras like food, clothing and other life-enhancing experiences. A community garden, built on unimproved space at the site, has created a sanctuary for everyone. Partners at the facility include North by Northeast Community Health Center and Healing Hurt People, a specialized Cascadia program for gang-affected young men of color.
Looking to the future, efforts are beginning to develop the Garlington Center site into a new mixed-use development that will meet Portland’s priorities for affordable housing and improved access to community-based medical care and mental health services. When construction is expected to begin in late 2016, current programing at Garlington Center will continue at nearby locations.
Cascadia’s new Garlington Center will offer a revolutionary approach to healthcare and wellness, creating new partnerships with key public service agencies while remaining a cornerstone of the community by providing healing, homes and hope to those who need it most.
Legacy of Rev. Dr. John W. Garlington Jr.
The late Rev. Dr. John W. Garlington Jr. and his wife Yvonne Garlington are remembered as compassionate social justice activists in Oregon during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Their lives were cut short when the two died in a tragic car accident while traveling in Florida, January 16, 1986. Rev. Garlington was 48, Yvonne, 46. They left behind five children.
The Garlington’s memory and contributions to the greater community can be found in numerous places around Portland.
Cascadia’s Garlington Center, a mental health clinic and social services center located at 3034 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, was named in 1989 in honor of Rev. Garlington and Yvonne.
For decades, Portland’s Maranatha Church has celebrated the Garlington’s memory as part of the annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
Pastor and Leader
Rev. Garlington moved his family to Portland in 1976 to be pastor of Maranatha Church in Northeast Portland. During his tenure, Rev. Garlington revitalized the inter-racial congregation, boosting membership and involving Maranatha in issues such as the funding of Head Start programs and the establishment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a state holiday. He also helped lead a funding drive for a new sanctuary to seat more than 1,000 people. The new sanctuary played host to appearances by Jesse Jackson and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu during Garlington’s leadership.
During his nine years in Portland, Rev. Garlington also became a leader and spokesman for social justice in such areas as education, employment, police-community relations and ministries to the poor, hungry and the homeless.
He was president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, the original chairman of the Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee to monitor the Portland Police Bureau’s handling of public complaints, and before his death he was due to be installed as the first African American president of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.
Rev. Garlington also helped found North Portland Bible College in 1982.
Compassion for Community
At the Garlington’s memorial, as reported in The Oregonian, friends remembered how Rev. Garlington would call his church a hospital, and remind people they didn’t have to be perfect to come in the doors. They recall him saying that his church was a place for sick people, a place where they could become well and whole.
On March 16, 1986, Governor Vic Atiyeh presented a state proclamation which saluted Rev. Garlington’s “diligence, commitment, tireless efforts and compassion.”
“For seven years John Wesley Garlington Jr. made sizeable contributions to the state of Oregon’s government operations,” the proclamation reads.
In May 1986, Rev. Garlington received a posthumous “Spirit of Portland” award (the second annual) – where Mayor Bud Clark and Commissioner Dick Bogle remembered Garlington as a “healer and a bridge builder.”
Community members marched in the “John and Yvonne Garlington March for Excellence” in support of efforts to create an after-school program. For several years, YMCA of Columbia-Willamette organized a youth camp for teens called the John W. Garlington Jr. Race Relations and Multicultural Leadership Camp at Camp Collins.
Today, Warner Pacific College remembers the Garlington’s with an annual scholarship “for students making significant contributions to diversity in their school community.”
Rev. Garlington and Yvonne are remembered fondly as humble, high-energy collaborators with a strong sense of family and community. They left behind five children – the youngest sons still in high school at the time – John W. III, Gayle, Athena (“Tina”), Mark and Matthew. In the years since, the Garlington children have contributed to the legacy and influence of their parents by participating in annual celebrations and other community events.
Stay up-to-date and informed on this project
The Garlington Center redevelopment will combine new affordable housing with a new community wellness center in addition to an expanded and integrated behavioral health and primary healthcare service center. This proposed mixed-use development will be built where Cascadia’s Garlington Center presently resides, located on the east side of NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, between NE Monroe and NE Morris streets.
Cascadia wants you to stay up-to-date and informed about our project. Below are answers to important questions about Cascadia’s efforts to renew the Garlington Center. We will update this list and the questions as the project progresses so that everyone can stay informed.
You are also invited to get the latest by visiting our Garlington Center project page. In addition, we have established an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and a project hotline: 503-813-8060. Please use these to contact us with additional questions or concerns you would like addressed.
Stay in touch.
As this project develops, we encourage you to stay informed. Please visit our Garlington Center project page. In addition, we have established an e-mail address: email@example.com and a project hotline: 503-813-8060. Please use these for additional questions or concerns you would like addressed.
Capital Campaign for Garlington Center
Join us in building our community by investing in a new Garlington Center.
Your support will help Cascadia expand access to quality, affordable housing, integrated wellness care and improved mental health and addictions services, now and for future generations.
Individual contributions may be accepted in the link below.
Or contact our Philanthropy Department at 503.963.7799. Let us know how you can support Cascadia’s Garlington Center.
Give to Garlington Center
Donate to Cascadia’s Garlington Center today by visiting our secure donation site.
Thank you for your support.
During the construction process for the new Garlington Center, which will combine affordable housing, a community wellness center, behavioral healthcare and primary healthcare, the current Garlington staff and services are being temporarily relocated.
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