On the third consecutive day of extreme heat, cooling centers remain in high demand for people and pets seeking refuge throughout Multnomah County. And alongside that demand is a need for volunteers to continue helping to support those sites’ 24-hour operations.
There’s a role for almost anyone who wants to help their neighbors: Volunteers can be involved in setting up and breaking down of cooling centers, helping guests get settled in, offering food and water, or simply providing valuable information.
“You work with incredibly dedicated people who want to help their neighbors,” said Adrian Austin-King, a Multnomah County employee who volunteered to fill shifts at the Arbor Lodge cooling shelter Thursday. “I meet those people every time I volunteer.”
Austin-King, who has contributed to responses of previous heat events, said the need is great and that there are jobs that can be done by anyone with any expertise and skill. He was passing out water and electrolyte packets during his shift.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than showing up to serve your community when an emergency happens.”
Shifts can last anywhere from four to eight hours. There’s a particular demand right now for overnight shifts at the Cooling Shelter at Kellogg Middle School. There are also open shifts at Arbor Lodge.
“Once you’ve signed up, you will receive a packet of materials that typically includes a shift briefing, and you go to work,” said Jenny Carver, a Multnomah County Department of Human Services emergency manager. “The heatwave is expected to pass by Sunday, but our community is still at risk because of the dangerous impacts of lingering high temperatures, and we could use your support”
Volunteers who are younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Visit the County’s volunteer webpage to learn more about open shifts.
New Cooling Center opens in Southeast Portland
The cooling center at Kellogg Middle School opened its doors for the first time Thursday, Aug 13. Kellogg, newly built in the South Tabor neighborhood between Southeast Division Street and Powell Boulevard, offered a cool space to guests in the heart of Southeast Portland.
The 100,000 square foot middle school, which will open to students for the first time in September 2021, includes a new multipurpose gym and assembly space that provides large and comfortable spaces for people seeking relief from the heat.
The space offers 55 beds for people overnight, and even more room for those looking to escape the heat during daytime hours. Workers are providing hand sanitizer, sunblock, and other toiletries, as well as snacks, meals and water.
Guests are required to wear masks at Kellogg and at all indoor cooling spaces. Guests who don’t have a mask will be provided with one.
Jim, a Southeast Portland resident, walked into the cooling center Thursday evening. His home did not have air conditioning. In the past, he’s gone downtown, but a new and closer location was a welcome relief.
“Shout out to Portland Public Schools for making this space available,” said Carver.
“We’ve had guests since we opened the doors on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. and we’d encourage folks in that area to note that this is a place in the heart of Southeast Portland where you can go.”
Visit Help for when it's Hot for 24-hour cooling center locations and other helpful tips.