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Office of Economic Opportunity

Posted on: January 29, 2021

Portland Celebrates Graduation of the 2021 Natural Helpers Cohort

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The City of Portland’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) is honored to announce the graduation of its second cohort of the Natural Helper program. Twelve individuals, representing eight countries of origin, from Angola to Peru, successfully completed four full days of training. OEO launched the Natural Helpers Leadership Program in February 2020, a national best practice, to connect community members to resources and opportunities in order to foster a greater sense of belonging in all aspects of life in Portland.

“Natural helpers all over Portland already help connect new arrivals to resources such as finding small business support, accessing educational opportunities, learning about Portland’s food system, childcare resources, job opportunities, legal services, transportation, housing, and more,” said Julia Trujillo Luengo, OEO Director. “But the program also helps advance and formalize their leadership skills, further drawing on their own lived experiences, connecting with others in different communities and enhancing their awareness of the many resources that exist in our city.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural cohort of Natural Helpers were instrumental to providing key information to their communities, translating and proofreading messaging in various languages, and problem-solving alongside OEO staff to address the immediate and ongoing needs of so many.   

A hearty congratulations to the 2021 Natural Helpers cohort! The 2021 Natural Helpers Program is made possible through a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. 

The virtual graduation ceremony will be kicked-off by Mayor Snyder on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. Mayor Snyder will present each Natural Helper with a formal certificate to recognize their dedication and training and their efforts to support the well being of so many Portlanders. The ceremony will also be attended by several City Councilors, City staff, community partners, family, and friends. 

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