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Parks, Recreation & Facilities

Posted on: July 17, 2018

Chamber Businesses Give Portland Opportunity Crew a Boost

Text Crew Sign

The City of Portland is excited to announce that several donations have recently been received to support the continuation of the Portland Opportunity Crew, the City’s panhandling-to-work program. The Portland Community Chamber of Commerce has brought together 13 businesses and organizations to fund 10 additional weeks of the program for the remainder of the summer.

The businesses include: Allspeed Cyclery & Snow, Bayside Bowl, David Wood Clothiers, Gritty’s McDuffs, Intermed, Old Port Wine Merchants, Press Hotel, Renys, Union Bagel, Verizon Wireless, Verrill Dana, Vitalius Real Estate, and Portland Downtown. 

“We’re so thankful the Chamber recognized the impact this program has on our community and enthusiastically stepped up to mobilize its members and provide this crucial funding source,” said Jon Jennings, City Manager. “The reality is we must rely on public-private partnerships to sustain this program, and so we’re very grateful to the businesses, organizations, and people who have recently contributed financially.”

“Last year, we were thrilled to hear about the pilot program launched by the city and its success,” said Quincy Hentzel, CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.  “The business community sees great value and the many benefits of helping people find pathways to employment and economic security while at the same time, filling the workforce needs of many of our members and the business community at-large.  It’s a program we are very proud to support and stand behind.”

“Supporting the Portland Opportunity Crew is a positive and productive way to help out folks that are looking for opportunities,” said Paul Farrell, co-owner and CEO of Union Bagel Company. “I am very excited to be a part of this initiative.”

In addition to the 13 businesses that contributed, the City recently received a $5,000 donation from the Maine Community Foundation via one of its members and a $500 donation from a local family. 

The Crew can be supported financially in two different ways. People can donate any amount of money they wish by texting the word CREW to 91999 or online by visiting Alternatively, businesses or organizations can contribute $1,300 to sponsor the program for one week, which covers all associated costs. Weekly sponsorships include advertising at the clean-up sites and publicity on the City’s website and social media channels. All donations are tax deductible. 

About the Portland Opportunity Crew

The Portland Opportunity Crew is the City’s panhandling-to-work program that offers panhandlers the opportunity to earn money to cleanup public areas while linking them with needed services, such as job training and support services, to create a pathway to future success. Workers pick up trash and beautify the city's parks and trails. Program participants are provided with breakfast and lunch and paid Portland’s minimum wage, $10.68 an hour ($10.90 per hour as of July 1, 2018) at the end of the shift.

The City's Social Services Division works with the City's Parks Division to run the program. It  operates two to three days a week from approximately April/May through November, and on each day up to six people will be hired. The City has partnered with Workforce Solutions and Complete Labor to link participants with additional services such as job training and employment support. 

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