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City of Gresham calls thousands of vulnerable residents through Operation Gresham Connected

April 1, 2020

A colon cancer survivor running low on supplies and medication. A husband and wife, both with heart conditions, who need toilet paper. A blind and deaf man struggling with what food he can eat. These are just a few examples from more than 3,000 of Gresham’s most vulnerable residents that City staff are calling through Operation Gresham Connected.

"During this time of isolation, it’s more important than ever to stay connected and keep our community strong,” said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. “Our incredible team of public servants is ready and willing to go beyond to help our elderly and our immunocompromised residents get through this challenging time."

A team of 40 City staff, whose normal work has been disrupted due to the spread of COVID-19, make calls to check in with longtime utility account holders. Through the program, staff connect residents with resources, and in some instances, employees act as couriers for critical deliveries of medication and food.

Staff are also reaching out to senior citizens and vulnerable community members referred to City Hall by local faith and nonprofit organizations.

In just one week, City staff called 2,500 residents to offer information, resources and supplies. Examples of collaboration include:

  • Coordinated delivery of supplies and medication to an elderly colon cancer survivor.
  • Delivered hand sanitizer and toilet paper to a couple with heart conditions, one of whom relies on an oxygen tank. The staff person left their phone number and email if the couple needs anything else.
  • Connected with a resident who is blind, deaf and has diabetes and lives on his own. After talking with the resident and his caretaker, staff delivered toilet paper and food to him.
  • Arranged for an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor to have her furnace repaired and get her electricity working.

“In this unprecedented time, it’s nice to know the City cares,” noted one resident.

“I don’t know of any other city showing this kind of concern for their people,” said another resident.
City employees were quick to volunteer for Operation Gresham Connected, answering the call to serve within the first 48 hours after the program was announced.

“This is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Tina Osterink, Natural Resources Planner, who volunteers for the program. “I feel like we are making a real difference.”

Community-based organizations, churches or neighborhood groups with directories of vulnerable residents can reach out to Operation Gresham Connected at GreshamConnected@GreshamOregon.gov or 503-618-2111.

The City’s Emergency Operations Center remains activated while City Hall is closed to the public. City leadership continues to conduct core business and ensure that essential services are operational for the safety of the public. Regular updates to the community will be available on GreshamOregon.gov/COVID19 as well as the City’s social media channels.