Portland Learning Center Celebrates 10 Years of Ministry
When Carl Parker of Portland, Ore., a counselor at Portland Community College, read about local inner-city students who were scoring two to three grade levels below their peers, he wondered if he could help.
So in 1985, he and his wife, Audre’, established a tutorial program and formed an organization called Citizens Involved in Teaching Youth (CITY). Between 1985 and 1992, the organization provided 40,000 hours of tutorial services to more than 700 students who needed help in improving their math and reading skills.
In 1991, they started a little school with 13 students in grades one to five, in a rented house across from the Sharon Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Then, with encouragement from the community and the assistance of Maranatha Volunteer International, American State Bank, and others, the Parkers started the Community Learning Center in 1992.
In addition to providing educational services, the Center is able to teach Christian values. Days begin with worship, Bible is a part of the regular curriculum, and parents appreciate the Christian environment.
Besides the Center’s educational dimension, results have come from its spiritual and health emphasis, and a Revelation seminar held by LeRoy Klein two years ago led to eight baptisms.
The Center has also held health fairs and seminars, hosting medical missionaries from as far away as Tennessee.
“As might be expected, finances have always been a pressing problem,” says Parker. “The parents pay a modest tuition, and this is supplemented with fundraisers and donations. Recently, Pastor Walter Arties, of the Voice of Prophecy, released a new CD, and the proceeds will help the Center. In addition, another recording by some local artists will also benefit the program.
“There have been many satisfying experiences, especially in seeing youngsters develop their learning skills,” he adds. “A student came three years ago who was behind in reading. In fact, she had been labeled ‘special ed’. She was recently tested and placed on grade level. The mother was extremely pleased with what the Center has done for her daughter.”
What of the future? Now, as the Center marks its 10th anniversary, changes will take place. The educational emphasis of the Center for the next school year will shift to preschool through first grade.
“There is the strong possibility that the Center will return to its tutorial roots and assist elementary students who are behind in their basic skills,” says Parker. “I believe that the need for supplementary educational services, such as tutoring, will increase in the future.”
But basic to all of this is the ultimate vision for evangelism: “We want to reach people with the message of salvation. The plan is to also use health and wellness and religious programs to reach people for Christ.” •