Human Interest

Portland neighborhood unites to help homeless family

"I'm grateful to the people stepping up and helping us"

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- For some, “neighborhood watch” translates to “not in my backyard.” 

But when a Brentwood-Darlingon neighborhood watch captain came across a couple and their young daughter camping in a park, Grant Williams didn’t hesitate to walk right up – not to ask them to leave – but to ask how he could help. 

“They revealed they had been going through some challenges and living on the streets,” Williams said. “Having these conversations is instrumental in getting people help, obviously. It’s just one of those things we don’t see enough of in the community, in general.” 

“’Wow’ was my first reaction,” Randy Charlson said. “Just wow.” 

Charlson said he, his girlfriend Jennifer Sahlfeld, and his young daughter Katelynn had been getting accustomed to dirty looks from many Portlanders who assumed they were using drugs. 

In reality, he said an eviction caught them off-guard. Without savings to fall back on, Charlson and Sahlfeld, who is pregnant with her first child, ended up without a place to live. 

Williams said he wanted to be an example of how to help neighbors – including neighbors in need. 

And as it turns out, Williams said getting assistance was easier than one might think. 

All it took was a post on the same neighborhood watch page on Facebook usually used to raise awareness of livability and safety concerns in the Brentwood-Darlington area of Portland. Williams said “at least 150 people” donated money, food, clothing, and supplies to help the young couple get on their feet. 

Katelynn received a new backpack and school supplies, Sahlfeld was given prenatal vitamins, and the family was supplied with food for a few days. Katelynn will soon be starting kindergarten. 

“I’m grateful to the people stepping up and helping us. I didn’t think that anybody was going to,” Sahlfeld said. 

Now, the young family are staying with friends while Charlson searches for a new job. He said that the help they received from the Brentwood-Darlington community helped accelerate their progress toward stability.  

“I feel like the future holds bright possibilities for us. I don’t see any negative stuff ahead in our future -- only positive things from here on out,” Charlson said. 


More Stories

Meet the Team

  • The KOIN 6 News Team
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

  • KOIN hosts Governor's debate
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    KOIN hosts Governor's debate

    Oregon governor candidates answer kids questions on October 2

    Read More »
  • KOIN 6 Email Alerts
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    KOIN 6 Email Alerts

    Breaking news, headlines, weather, contests - right in your inbox

    Read More »
  • KOIN transmission info
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    KOIN transmission info

    KOIN 6 is changing transmission frequencies on June 1, 2018

    Read More »

Latest News - Local

Video Center