Enjoying the Parks in the Rain - The Value of Community Centers

By Julia Benford

Here at the Portland Parks Foundation, we love to see people enjoying their neighborhood parks as often as possible. But we also understand that in the winter, Portland’s rainy, wet weather can make outdoor activities seem a bit less than ideal. One great way to avoid the rain while still taking advantage of Portland’s parks: visit your local community center! PP&R’s community centers offer tons of different amenities, from fitness classes to swimming to kids’ activities. Here, we break down what makes some of Portland’s community centers awesome.

 Gymnastics at Montavilla Community Center. Photo courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation.

Gymnastics at Montavilla Community Center. Photo courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation.

Montavilla Community Center: 8219 NE Glisan Street
If you’re a teen (or have one in your household), Montavilla Community Center is the place to go. The center offers unique and interesting classes specifically for tweens and teenagers, including spoken word poetry, weightlifting, and gymnastics. If your teen has a busy schedule or just wants more flexibility, there are also drop-in classes (breakdancing, anyone?), movie nights, and homework help. Best of all, every class for teens is FREE thanks to Portland Parks & Recreation’s TeenForce program, which helps teens get involved with their local parks.

Matt Dishman Community Center: 77 NE Knott Street
The Matt Dishman Community Center truly offers something for everyone, from empowerment programs for young women to van trips for seniors—including a coffee and chocolate tasting tour that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day! The center also offers a wide variety of affordable, inclusive classes for people with disabilities or special needs, including dance classes, winter crafts, and button making. It’s the perfect place for all your loved ones to socialize.

Peninsula Park Community Center: 700 N Rosa Parks Way
Located in beautiful Peninsula Park, this North Portland community center has lots of fun activities for both kids and adults. Parents can enjoy adult/child dance, music, and gymnastics classes together with little ones. Or if your 4-6 year old loves the circus, they might enjoy the center’s circus arts class, where they can learn improvisation, clowning, and juggling! For adults, it’s never too late to learn a new skill—you can learn to play guitar, piano, ukulele, or violin with private music lessons.

Charles Jordan Community Center: 9009 N Foss Avenue
Are you an older adult looking to get more involved in your community? Charles Jordan Community Center has plenty of options just for you, with classes for ages 55 and up. From inclusive fitness options like Yoga in Chairs to floral design classes to van trips to the coast, there’s something for every interest. For the younger set, the center offers before and after school care and birthday party rentals—you can even rent a bouncy castle for extra fun!

Woodstock Community Center: 5905 SE 43rd Avenue
Woodstock Community Center offers some of the most unique classes of any community center in Portland. If you’re a senior interested in recording your family history, the center offers genealogy and memoir writing courses, which let you share your history with younger generations! For people of all ages who want to pick up a new skill, there are classes for calligraphy and antique clock repair. Finally, adults ages 60+ who want a relaxing fitness class can give hula dancing a try for a unique workout.

 Swimming for all ages at the East Portland Community Center.  Photo courtesy of PP&R.

Swimming for all ages at the East Portland Community Center. Photo courtesy of PP&R.

East Portland Community Center: 740 SE 106th Avenue
For fitness buffs and people looking to keep up their New Year’s resolutions, East Portland Community Center is ideal. They offer exercise classes for all ages and activity levels, as well as family fitness classes perfect for keeping the whole family healthy.  Take a break and enjoy swimming in the pool—swimming lessons and water fitness classes are also available! And finally, for those with homeschooled kids looking to socialize, the East Portland Community Center offers sports and art classes specifically for homeschoolers. It’s a great place to branch out and try something new.

Sellwood Community Center: 1436 SE Spokane Street
Feeling crafty? Sellwood Community Center might be the place for you. They’ve teamed up with the Portland Lace Society to offer low-cost lacemaking and crochet classes—try it out and you might discover a new hobby! Little ones can also discover their creative sides with baby and toddler art classes for children 10 months and up. If you have school-aged children, check out the Sellwood Community Center’s Grow after-school program, which helps children build gardening and cooking skills and find physical activities they enjoy.

 Don't miss Daddy Daughter Night at the Southwest Community Center.  Photo courtesy of PP&R.

Don't miss Daddy Daughter Night at the Southwest Community Center. Photo courtesy of PP&R.

Southwest Community Center: 6820 SW 45th Avenue
If you have a child who’s looking for a new hobby and some new friends, the Southwest Community Center is a great place to go! They offer some amazing classes that will build lifelong skills, including cooking, rock climbing and skateboarding classes. Adults can find unique ways to get active too—take advantage of the community center’s rock wall, or try out a barre class. Finally, if you’re the father of a daughter, consider taking her to the center’s Daddy Daughter Night on February 24th or 25th! The $20 cost includes pizza, salad, frozen yogurt, and plenty of fun bonding time.