Linda Weinman, winner of the 2018 HILLTOP Award for Individual Achievement

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” couldn’t ring more true for Linda Weinman. As a 50-year Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) employee, the Rockwood grandmother’s life has centered around service for families. Whether providing case management through the DHS Self-Sufficiency program or launching a pilot program alongside Multnomah County’s Juvenile Services Division, Weinman has gladly volunteered her professional and personal time to those whose lives intersect with the criminal justice system.

“It’s my calling,” Weinman says. “There are good people, and good people make poor choices, and we need to look at how to move forward from that experience and make a family whole again.”

A Central Oregon native, Weinman moved to Portland in 1969. At 19, she began working in private industry before launching a career at the state. Through the DHS Self-Sufficiency program, Weinman worked with families seeking services during the week. On weekends, she served with the U.S. Army Reserves 104th Training Division. After working for 20 years as a DHS manager, she transitioned to family case management with DHS Adult & Family Services Division. She helped set up health, food, employment services and other supports for women released from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.

“Many women aren’t getting the hands-on holistic support that they need — or the acknowledgment of how important it is to have positive contact when released from prison — that can help them through the process,” Weinman says. “Normally, what would happen is the day that you get released and get home and it’s ‘Here’s your children,’” she says. “When your children are not with you for 18 months and you come home and there are four of them, that’s overwhelming. So when women are being released from Coffee Creek, it’s important to have the connection on the outside.”

Weinman has been integral in pilot projects designed to support people involved in the justice system. She worked one-on-one with families and the juvenile court counselors with the County’s Juvenile Gang Unit at the Donald E. Long Detention Center. On the adult side, she has dedicated time to the Department of Community Justice’s Family Services Unit with women returning from incarceration and with the Adapt (Alcohol Drug Abuse Prenatal Treatment) program. Because of Weinman’s work, a permanent DHS case manager is now staged at the County’s parole and probation offices in Gresham three days a week.

Her work has helped her avoid passing judgment and gain a true understanding for a population that’s all too often overlooked.

“There are people who have been incarcerated, but they’ve done their time, they’ve paid their dues,” she says. “These are people who have families and deserve to have people who are positive in their lives.”