CFM Supports Refugee Resettlement

When refugees from Sudan, Afghanistan or Myanmar get off a plane at Portland International Airport, someone from Catholic Charities is there to greet them. And Catholic Charities provides refugee families with a starter apartment to help them assimilate into their new home.

Refugee resettlement is just one of the services performed by the 70-year-old organization, and it is perhaps one of the least known.

Many people believe refugees come to the United States for economic reasons, but Catholic Charities says they come here most often because of persecution in their own countries, frequently because of their religious faith. "Refugees are survivors," the group says, "who have shown they have courage, initiative and creativity. When they are helped to adjust to their new circumstances and rebuild their lives in the United States, they become valued and contributing members of our society."

The resettlement program was featured at this year's Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope banquet, which drew more than 1,000 people to the Oregon Convention Center last weekend.

As a result of an inspiring presentation, which centered on the struggles of a Burmese family, CFM contributed $1,000, the amount needed to provide a starter apartment for one refugee family.

"Moving to a new country is traumatic enough, so we want to support Catholic Charities' effort to secure housing, furniture, bedding and other household supplies to ease that transition," said CFM President Gary Conkling. "Having the security of a home is a good beginning in a new community." 

Those interested in contributing to the refugee resettlement program or other programs can contact Catholic Charities at or 503.231.4866.

CFM Donates Books to Encourage Reading in Ethiopia

CFM has donated more than 80 books to a school located in Debark, Ethiopia. The donation will help encourage students to develop a love of reading.

Several CFM staff members selected books they or their children love to be part of the donation. “Some of the books I chose were my favorite books as a child, my son's favorites and adult authors I love that also write children's books,” said CFM Bookkeeper Beverly Melven. “Growing up poor, the library was my favorite place to be, and I'm thrilled that we are helping other children grow up with books as their friends.”

CFM purchased from Better World Books, a website that sells books to help fund high-impact literacy projects in the United States and around the world. For each book purchased through the site, Better World Books donates another book to an organization promoting literacy. The majority of books CFM purchased were also used, which helps books get to people in need rather than in landfills. Many of the books CFM purchased promote self-esteem for women and girls, environmental responsibility or feature people with disabilities.

The book drive was organized by Peace Corps Volunteer Mellissa Chisolm, who took to Facebook asking her friends and family to donate books. “Their school libraries are mostly filled with big, boring, reference books,” wrote Chisolm, “I would love to get some new exciting, easy, fun books to add to their collection.”

“I began by personally supporting the project because it seemed like such a simple way to make a difference,” said CFM Digital Strategist Hannah Smith. “I was so proud when CFM also decided to support the project in such a big way.”

Upon learning of CFM’s donation, Chisolm said: “I will be forever grateful to CFM for helping out the children in my town. It is wonderful knowing that there are people and companies that support literacy programs around the world. I am amazed at their generosity and feel extremely lucky for all of the support.”

Those interested in purchasing additional books for donation should contact Hannah Smith through the CFM website.

“CFM In The Community” Feature Launched

CFM is supporting the upcoming Portland Piano International Festival July 12-17, one of several ways the firm involves itself in key community events.Take a peak at CFM’s updated home page. You’ll notice two new features.

We are introducing CFM In The Community, which will display the latest examples of how we are involved in key civic events, such as supporting for the Portland Piano International's Summer Festival on July 12-17.

“Community” also features CFM’s sponsorship of Zoolala (July 16), the annual fundraiser for the Oregon Zoo Foundation, where CFM Partner Dan Jarman serves as board chair, as well as CFM Senior Public Affairs Associate Elizabeth Slater’s volunteer mentoring efforts.

Being engaged and active members of our community is a core value shared by CFM staff members. Since its earliest days, the firm has supported important community groups and causes and encouraged partners and staff to volunteer.

The second new feature about our role in the community is “Our Legacy,” a brief slideshow about CFM’s accomplishments during the past two decades. The show mention’s CFM’s involvement with Metro’s first effort to create the green spaces program, helping school districts fund facilities and working on historic preservation programs, to name a few.

Link: Portland Piano International 

CFM Donates to African School Charity

Portland lobbyist Seth Prickett with kids in Africa.CFM and its employees are helping a Portland-based charity build schools in West Africa by donating about $1,000 to an event sponsored by Framework International, a non-profit.

Framework is focused on the education and well being of Africa's vulnerable youth and believes that children hold the greatest hope for a peaceful and healthy continent, says Joel Fischer, a CFM state lobby team member.

Framework International is comprised of young professionals interested in giving back, building the future and improving the quality of life around the world, says Joel. Lobbyist Seth Prickett leads the nonprofit. The group already has built one school in Ghana and is halfway through building a second school.

Link: Framework International website

CFM and Guests Donate to Kids’ Health Centers

CFM Senior Account Executive Ashley Sherrick and Wayne Paige from Wave One at the CFM Fall CrushA donation of $500 was contributed last week to two Portland-area children's health programs by guests attending the CFM Fall Crush 2010, a client appreciation event. The firm chipped in to help make the total gift.

An occasional event, the Fall Crush was held this year to observe CFM's 20th anniversary, as well as celebrate the firm's new name – CFM Strategic Communications.  "We also toasted our new website, logo and five new blogs," said CFM Partner Gary Conkling. "It was fitting we held the Crush in our newly renovated office space where we plan to be for quite some time."

Haiti: CFM, Staff Donate Cash

Scenes from a devastated Haiti following January 12th's 7.0 earthquake. (Daily Mail)As part of its tradition of Good Deeds and community involvement, CFM created a dollar-for-dollar employee-matching program last week for Haitian earthquake relief. Within 48 hours of establishing the match, CFM and its staff raised more than $4,000 in donations for Portland-based Mercy Corps, a highly respected emergency aid organization.

(Update: As of January 19, CFM and its staff have raised more than $5,000.)