Folktime Interviews Sharon Kuehn of the David Romprey Oregon Warmline

Portland, OR, June 2, 2020: FolkTime had the chance to sit down with Sharon Kuehn last month, Program Manager for CCS’s Warmline and Senior Peer Outreach, to talk about the new partnership between FolkTime and the David Romprey Oregon Warmline. While doing so, we were taken through some really interesting history of the Warmline and Intentional Peer Support, as well as the day to day functioning of the Warmline. Below is an excerpt from the interview. To see more of this interview visit FolkTime’s website:

NICOLE: It looks like CCS grew out of what began as a “local mental health authority” for Morrow County back in the 1970’s. After several iterations it became a non-profit and began the Oregon Warmline 2008. Were you there back then? Is the Warmline your baby?

SHARON: I’ve been working just over 3 years with the Warmline. I did a lot of work in California, I was a previous executive director of the California Network of Mental Health Clients. I was originally brought up to Oregon in 2014 to become the executive director of Mental Health Association of Oregon, now MHAAO. And then I briefly worked for the Oregon Health Authority as the peer reviewer for the development of the CCBHCs which were the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, a model for a new way that behavioral health was delivered – alongside primary, or physical, healthcare. That was how I got exposed to some of the agencies in Eastern Oregon and that’s actually how I reviewed Community Counseling Solutions and, as you know, Angel [Prater, Executive Director of FolkTime] was in that role originally. I’m not sure actually what year Angel started, sometime near the beginning, pitching and doing a lot of community outreach in the counties. She was getting it [the Warmline] valued in a lot of counties, which led to the eventual statewide block grant funding that we currently have. But I did not take over the role until 2017 after Angel left. Angel and I know each other from way back because I was one of the co-developers of the “SPIRIT Training,” which stands for Service Provider Individualized Recovery Intensive Training and, which was a peer support specialist training that was very well respected in California. We developed it out of Contra Costa County which was the place where I worked in the role of consumer empowerment manager for about 7 years.

NICOLE: Can you tell us what a Warmline is and how that is different from what people call a suicide or crisis line?

SHARON: Sure, a Warmline is a peer support service in which peers are available to connect with whoever calls, for whatever reason. I think we’ve said something like, “Whoever you are and whatever you may be going through, you are welcome on the Warmline.” One really unique aspect of the service is that its preventative in nature so we don’t screen, or require any kind of diagnosis, and we don’t identify any kind of person that should receive the peer support that we have to offer. For myself, one of the things that I really love about being part of the Warmline is that its peer support at its purest.

It’s not a crisis service although we occasionally get callers who are experiencing crisis. The majority of our callers are simply calling because they’re lonely, isolated, shut-in, feeling depressed, having relationship problems, or just wanting someone to give them their quality attention and listen.

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To see to the full interview:sharon_kuehn_warmline _interview_Jun_2020

FolkTime’s, Free To Be Me, Starts “Bliss Garden” CSA

Multhnomah County, June 2019: FolkTime’s Social Program, Free to Be Me, has started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program called the  FolkTime Bliss Garden.  We have a few more CSA memberships to sell and would like to spread the word!

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way to purchase local, sustainable, and seasonal produce while supporting your community and promoting healing. By registering for the FolkTime Bliss Garden, you are joining a group of people who support and believe in the benefits of cultivating a connection between humans and the Earth. FolkTime’s CSA veggies are produced with care in service to mental health recovery.

The garden serves as a space for people in recovery to get their hands dirty, while also learning all it takes to grow our food. Excess produce is incorporated into our weekly meals provided at the social programs.

In joining our CSA someone can expect to get a fresh bag of mixed produce lovingly attended by peers each week. All of the produce is grown right at the FolkTime Bliss Garden in NE Portland. Produce will be harvested every Friday morning and your CSA bags may be picked up Friday afternoon at the garden site.

In addition to getting your fresh veggies, you will receive a weekly email containing the contents of this week’s harvest, as well as a recipe to try!

The cost of the full CSA season, June 7th – Oct. 25th, is $495,
which come out to approximately $23 per week, for a total of 21 weeks!  

By participating in the CSA, you will:

  • Cultivate healthy produce for underserved communities
  • Sustain future seasons of the Bliss Garden – 100% of the funds go back into the garden
  • Support environmentally sustainable farming
  • Get delicious, locally grown produce weekly

FolkTime Partners with Clackamas County to Provide Peer Support at Emergency Warming Centers


Clackamas County, March 2019: FolkTime, in partnership with the Clackamas County Social Services Department, had the opportunity this past winter season to create a peer support program within the five emergency warming centers throughout the county. Although Clackamas county serves a more rural community overall, they are in great need of solutions for our neighbors experiencing houselessness. In recent years, an influx of houseless people from Portland and surrounding areas has made it necessary for Clackamas County to develop new resources, as their demographics are somewhat different from those of an urban area. Clackamas County approached FolkTime about that need, and together they developed a pilot project to better support the emergency warming centers and their overnight guests. Amanda Maddalone, FolkTime’s Director of Social Programs, hired ten peers, each of whom has lived experience similar to that of the people making use of the warming centers.

FolkTime, which is the Intentional Peer Support training hub for Oregon, certifies all of its peers in Intentional Peer Support, or IPS, a model of peer support emphasizing connection and learning together. The relationships created through IPS support letting go of old ideas, opening our worldview to growth through new understanding.

Clackamas’ Emergency Warming Centers open when the temperature falls to 33o F or below, including when it drops below that level due to wind chill. The centers make determination by noon every day as to whether they will open, sometimes doing so to serve populations affected by other adverse environmental conditions, such as flooding or severe winds. Once the peer support specialists were trained in IPS, they were placed at each of the Clackamas warming center sites to support guests during times of distress. Over the course of the pilot project season, the peer support team ended up supporting both guests and site volunteers by negotiating common power dynamics to create and foster authentic connection between both groups.  Peers often birthed functioning protocols out of chaotic circumstances.  The team brought with them a tremendous amount of valuable life experience, things that could never have been taught in a classroom, opening up new avenues of communication and understanding. The feedback received from the guests, shelter sites, and peers has been entirely positive.

As the season draws to a close, Amanda is excited to review the data and to discuss findings. She is curious how many lives the peers have positively affected during this project. This was the first peer support role for most of these new employees, and Amanda was happy to be able to report that “many of the new team are pursuing peer support employment in other programs in the future. I’m so glad FolkTime could give people the opportunity to try their hand at this amazing work!”