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In Memoriam of

Patricia “Pam” May

Passed Away June 2022

Formerly houseless for three years. Unhoused Community Member Board Representative.

Many of you may have attended an event where Pam May described what it was like for her to live outside, on the streets and in the woods in Portland and Tigard. I first met Pam during a Showers and Laundry Day. She was quiet and kept to herself - putting her laundry in the machines and then waiting outside until it was ready to move to the dryers. After our initial meeting I asked if she would mind if I could sit next to her on the curb outside of Unity Laundromat. Each month our conversations grew to include a little more of our life stories. I could count on her to make me laugh and to teach me something related to food, music, history, or politics. She was off the charts smart and witty. Once Pam developed trusting relationships through the Just Compassion Coalition, she was able to see her way through the barriers of getting into housing and then staying in housing. It was not easy for her and it took a handful of her friends to help her stay housed, especially as her health declined. I’m sorry to say that Pam has passed away. What is most remarkable about Pam and shows the depth of her gratitude and compassion was how she gave back to the community.

Pam was unique in that she was willing and able to reciprocate what she was given by serving the community. Once housed she began volunteer at the Tigard Public Library (she was a computer wiz and a great instructor), St. Anthony’s Severe Weather Shelter, Bethlehem House of Bread, and the Just Compassion Board of Directors. Her advocacy for food insecurity led her, along with Linda Dove of Bethlehem House of Bread, to receive the Jerry Tippens Advocacy Award from the Oregon Food Bank (video here). Pam was especially proud of this accomplishment.

Just Compassion is indebted to Pam for her work as a primary member of the collation that established our nonprofit status and in raising awareness of the dehumanizing aspects of living outside. In many of her speeches Pam would describe experiences of being “unseen” or “looked through”. She drew attention to the ordinary ways of ignoring people who we do not want to see. Her work as an advocate and passion to give back to those who helped her kept us moving forward.

Personally, Pam became a trusted friend and family member. She sat at the table of our family gatherings and celebrations and made us laugh. I am grateful for the love she gave and received.

Pam represents our hope for each individual who visits Just Compassion. She was eager to be seen, heard, and known like many of our guests. Once trust was established, she was able to develop connections that lead to housing and food security.

- Darla Tillman-Samuelson

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