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Homeless shelter holds storytelling benefit

In Other Words event raises cash to support families in need


Jack Schwab hears stories every day.

As executive director of the Good Neighbor Center homeless shelter, he hears tales of woe and heartbreak that left families in the streets.

Schwab plans to bring a different kind of story to the Broadway Rose Theatre Company on Saturday night, with the third annual “In Other Words” storytelling event and fundraiser for the shelter.

Featuring local storytellers from the Portland Storytellers Guild, the evening is more akin to a play than a traditional fundraiser, Schwab said.

Telling stories has fallen out of fashion as an art form, Schwab said, but the messages are still important to our lives.

“Although storytelling is an ancient and honorable art, it’s relatively unknown in the modern world,” he said. “It has been replaced by other ways of telling stories, like movies and TV shows, but it’s part of our genetic makeup to respond to the telling of tales.”

The evening is open to people of all ages, but Schwab said the performance is tailored to appeal to adults.

It’s storytelling for grown ups, Schwab said.

“There is really cool stuff that can be done with storytelling,” he said.

The hope is to entertain people and get them excited about storytelling, not just ask for money.

Along with Irish folktales and other stories, Schwab said he plans to feature some of the stories that come from the shelter’s residents.

“Everybody has a story,” he said. “Even you and me.”

The event has grown every year and has become the largest annual fundraiser for the shelter.

“It’s all good,” he said. “It has become a new source of revenue for us.”

The homeless shelter, located on Southwest Greenburg Road, does more than just give families a place to stay, Schwab said.

“Our essential purpose is sheltering families who need a home in an emergency,” he said. “But we spend a lot of money on our families. We buy driver’s licenses, pay for food handler’s permits, buy new backpacks for teenagers to get a job, pay for prescriptions and pay for rental applications on apartments.”

Schwab, who is also a member of the guild, said he plans to tell a story about his father’s exploits in the Navy during World War II.




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