Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The last month has been a very difficult one for me and my family. As many of you know, I lost my mother, Gretchen Kafoury, who passed away at her home in Portland on March 13. My mom was 72 and she had a great life -- as a leader, as a feminist, a county commissioner and as a city commissioner.

She taught me and my sister to fight for the values that we hold most dear to our hearts -- equity, justice and respect. She was always there for us -- and for so many other people in the community -- when we needed someone to talk to or when we needed a kick in the pants to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

To many of us, she was a mother, a teacher, a role model and a friend. Her strength and her actions remain an inspiration because she always spoke up for those who didn't have a voice in our community. As Multnomah County moves forward into the next fiscal year, I will always think of my mother as the person who taught me how to do what's right for people in need.

I appreciate all the kind words and well wishes that so many of you sent me at this difficult time. It means a lot. Please take care.


Deborah Kafoury

Multnomah County Committees seek your input

Join the Charter Review Committee: Every six years, residents of Multnomah County are required to review the county home rule charter. The charter is the local version of a constitution, essentially creating the structure of Multnomah County government. A committee, appointed by state Senators and Representatives, meet to review the charter and suggest revisions which are put to public vote. An example of a charter change suggested by past Charter Review Committees includes the creation of the Library District (2010).

For more information and how to join the Charter Review Committee.

Looking to get involved with Multnomah County? See current volunteer opportunities.

Multnomah County honors Public Health Heroes who inspire, serve and teach

"We're taught that leadership is about the individual. But that's not it. We do the work no one can do alone," said Rachael Banks, Tuesday after receiving an award recognizing her health advocacy on behalf of children and families.

Banks was among the recipients of this year's Multnomah County Public Health Heroes awards, which honor the work of county employees and community partners who go the extra mile.

"Your work towards building healthier communities impacts the lives of thousands of people and creates a county where everyone has a chance to live a healthy life," Chair Kafoury said during the April 7 ceremony. "Each and every one of you deserves a 'thank you' for helping improve the health of our community."

Read full article on public health heroes..

The Multnomah Youth Commission seeks members for the 2015-2016 term

The youth policy body for Multnomah County and the City of Portland is seeking members for its 2015-2016 session. The Multnomah Youth Commission (MYC) is made up of 42 young people who help bring youth perspective and involvement into county and city decisions, discussions, and planning.

Youth commissioners are between the ages of 13-21, serve one-year terms, and either work, go to school, or live within Multnomah County or the City of Portland.

Recent efforts of the Multnomah Youth Commission include working to:

● Maintain the YouthPASS, a free bus pass for every high school student in Portland Public Schools, and expand the pass to all high school students in Multnomah County

● Decrease chronic absenteeism and youth disengagement from schools

● Develop youth-led solutions to issues that touch young people in our local school systems alongside community and education leaders

Applications for the 2015-2016 session of the Multnomah Youth Commission are due Monday, April 27. Apply to the MYC.

The 2014-2015 Multnomah Youth Commission

Board bans e-cigarette sales to minors, vaping indoors

The Multnomah County Commissioners, on March 5, unanimously voted to restrict e-cigarettes and vaping to protect children and public health.

In a 5-0 vote, the board passed an ordinance that prohibits minors from buying and using inhalant delivery systems, such as e-cigs and vape pens. The law, which took effect on April 5, prohibits businesses from selling the devices to people under age 18. The change also means vaping won't be allowed in workplaces where smoking is prohibited.

"My primary concern is protecting kids from exposure to these products," Chair Kafoury said at Thursday's meeting. "And I want to ensure that people who choose not to vape are protected at work."

Read full article on e-cigarette sales being banned to minors..

5 years old by September 1st? Sign up for kindergarten by June 1st!

It's time for the annual "Register for School by June" campaign. Early Learning Multnomah, in partnership with the SUN Service System, is encouraging parents of five-year-olds to sign up for kindergarten before school offices close for the summer.

Early registration helps parents get to know their school and teacher. They receive important information on transportation, child care, school hours and free and reduced lunch prices.

Starting school can be an emotional time for both children and parents. Many schools offer transition programs and other ways to ease the journey into school.

This campaign is a key part of Multnomah County's efforts to improve educational outcomes for all children from cradle to career.

Parents can call 211info or email to learn more.

Senior members of the Asian Health & Service Center talk to Chair Kafoury about needs

Last month Chair Kafoury began making her way around Multnomah County to discuss the county's budget and listen to community needs.

Asian Health & Service Center Executive Director Holden Leung said having the chair visit before budget deliberations is unprecedented. "It's the first time that I can remember that we've been asked for our input before they make a decision," he said.

"It's important for me to know where money should be spent," Chair Kafoury said. "If the conversation happens after, it doesn't give people a chance to weigh in. When people don't speak English, they may not feel included. But here people feel more comfortable, so I can hear directly for them."

Christine Lau, chief operating officer at the Asian Health & Service Center, said she spoke to community members after the celebration.

"I heard from a lot of seniors that they felt happy and touched that the chair cared about them. She really wants to listen to us. I think this is really wonderful." Many residents come from countries where government doesn't ask for input, she said. "But here you can have a voice."

Read full article here.

Chair Kafoury to Slavic community: We need to hear from you

Programs for teens and professional development for parents topped the list of concerns at a meeting last month between Chair Kafoury and area residents of the Slavic community.

The event, hosted by the Slavic Advisory Council, was the second in a series of discussions with immigrant communities Chair Kafoury is having to discuss how the county will spend roughly $454 million in general fund dollars for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

"It's my job to look at the county and find out where are there gaps in services" the Chair said. "Also, if you receive services, how do you receive those services and how can we do a better job?"

Read full article on the Slavic community..

The Climate Action Plan update process is underway!

Multnomah County cares about climate change because it is a threat to the health and well-being of our community. That's why we came together with the City of Portland to produce the 2009 Climate Action Plan. This plan is a roadmap for achieving our goal of reducing emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. As of 2013, greenhouse gas emissions in Multnomah County are 14% below 1990 levels (and 35% on a per capita basis), while job opportunities and population have continued to rise. This achievement puts us well ahead of national trends, but we still have a long way to go. The 2015 Climate Action Plan is an update that builds upon the success of the original plan and identifies new actions for the County and City that further prioritize health, justice, and preparing our community for expected climate impacts. At the County we work to both prevent and prepare for the impacts of climate change so our community can continue to thrive for generations to come.

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