Note: Letty Owings is my mother. She is not only larger in life to me. She has been a mother and teacher to many. Letty grew up in poverty, on a farm in Missouri. At age 12, she left home to pursue her education. She is the most amazing teacher I have ever had in my life. She taught at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego for many years, the best years of my life. To this day we reminisce. The world was different back then.
If you drive past the Letty Owings Center in Northeast Portland, Oregon, you may mistake the house for any other vintage neighborhood home. However, for the women and their babies residing there, the home is the beginning of a new life.
Co-founded in 1989 by retired English teacher Letty Owings and tireless advocate Nancy Anderson, the Letty Owings Center is a treatment center that is unique, in providing both long-term addiction treatment and living skills to pregnant women and women with children.
Mothers in the community mentor mothers at the center. Mothers in the center learn to cook, plan meals, clean house, and engage the children in age-appropriate play. Here is the website.
As of this writing, the Letty Owings Center has changed so many lives for the better that the second generation, the children, are themselves becoming advocates. Take a look at this:
Central City Concern employees work
“collaboratively with inter and intra agency partners on the provision of services needed in all life domains to promote recovery and self sufficiency, and ensuring services are delivered in accordance to organizational policies and procedures, ASAM criteria, ISSRS, county, state and federal contract requirements, and other pertinent standards.”
We need more programs such as this. Co-founder Nancy Anderson, who has dedicated her life to changing lives, has made a substantial difference directly in the lives of more than 1000 women who would otherwise be locked up or dead, and also in the lives of the children, who would likely become motherless, or themselves addicted, incarcerated or dead.
Letty Owings, who is now elderly, voices concern about the center. Funding cuts may mean that the center will someday be closed. If that happens, many of the clients, totally without resources, may likely be re-incarcerated, separated from their children or worse. Letty states, “How would this save any money?”
Put simply, the Central City Concern Letty Owings Center is a home of hope and documented multi-generational success. It is a wonderful alternative to incarceration and cyclic multi-generational incarceration that is so known to be fraught with recidivism and tragedy.
If you live in the Portland area, please take a moment to learn more about the Central City Concern Letty Owings Center and join six-year-old Zoe in supporting it.