In 1985, people from Portland area churches were surveyed to determine what social needs Ecumenical Ministries (EC) might offer that were not currently being addressed. (http://www.emoregon.org/). The survey identified a concern for adults with mental illness who were socially isolated. Joann Seeger was on Ecumenical Ministries Churches in Society Committee and the committee decided to pursue the idea of a center for adults with mental health conditions.
They sent postcards to their mailing list of churches inquiring about interest in hosting such a program. Only one church responded in the affirmative, Community of Christ in NE Portland. Joann took the project on and wrote grants to fund an administrative position. After receiving $4,000 from the Presbyterian Women’s Association, Ecumenical Ministries hired the first FolkTime program manager, Jenny Stewart.
The program opened in the fall of 1986. Jenny suggested the name FolkTime after seeing how well people interacted in social activities and arts and crafts.
About 75 people attended the grand opening ceremony, and Deborah Kafoury, now Multnomah County Chair, cut the ribbon. FolkTime survived some tight times relying on small grants and volunteers. It remained a program of Ecumenical Ministries but had an advisory board that included James Louie, owner of Huber’s Café.
In 1996 FolkTime separated from EC and incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. James Louie recruited Mark Gaskill to the new Board of Directors.