Poverty in West Linn – and what you can do

Almost every community in America struggles with poverty and West Linn is no exception. According to U.S. Census data, out of the 26,000 people in West Linn, 4.8 percent live in poverty, which translates to roughly 1,250 people. With a median house price of more than $300,000 in West Linn, it’s even more difficult for people living in poverty to have shelter. For many lower income families and kids, school can be an escape, offering a safe place, and access to food and shelter.

West Linn High School, for example, provides subsidized and free lunches for students who need it. For many field trips and other activities, including the SAT, you can get fee waivers. The school, in many ways, does everything in its power to assist students. Beyond the school, and West Linn however, these problems are even more pronounced. This is what the West Linn Poverty Initiative seeks to address.

“That’s why we need a club like this, to educate people about the outside world and issues in Portland, that they aren’t really accustomed too,” Dennis Tang, senior, said. “They don’t see homeless people on the sidewalks, they don’t see people who can’t afford food, they don’t see these types of things. That’s why we need to teach them and create a type of compassion.”

Tang and Benjamin Lee together run the West Linn Poverty Initiative.

“I feel like our club is actually doing something,” Lee said.

The West Linn Poverty Initiative is responsible for running things like the sock drive, blanket drive, coin drive, and the canned food drive the school holds.

“Other schools don’t have clubs like this,” Tang said.

The club has only been around since they created it in their junior year, and works to create an environment which trains students to give some time over to help the needy, not just throughout high school but later in life as well. Besides running drives, they make sandwiches which they give to shelters, providing direct assistance to the homeless.

“We’re the only club that’s proactively doing anything about it,” Lee said. “I feel like what we are doing is definitely helping, but more people need to join.”

The club currently has around 35 members.

“It’s easy work,” says Tang.

They hope even just building awareness will help out these issues once students leave the high school.

The large number of members indicates many students are interesting in helping these struggles. Together, Tang and Lee and responsible for running some of the most successful drives the school has seen. If you are interested in joining the West Linn Poverty Initiative to help the community too, you can find more information online or contact Dennis Tang.