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When Jubilee Hall PDX founder Khupsamlian (Sam) Khaute first came to the US from his home in northeast India, he found refuge — and employment — in a coffee shop owned by another immigrant. Today, Sam and a passionate team are bringing first-step employment and opportunity to immigrants and refugees in East Portland by opening a new nonprofit neighborhood café on the ground floor of CCC’s Blackburn Center.
From the beginning, Blackburn Center was designed to be a neighborhood hub. The trailblazing project, which combines health care, addiction treatment, employment services and supportive housing — all under one roof — included commercial and community spaces on the ground floor. Designers envisioned integration between clients and neighbors, as they mingled within the building.
The COVID-19 pandemic put this vision on hold. Now, Jubilee Hall will bring it to life.
“There’s so much alignment between Central City Concern and Jubilee Hall that will benefit the entire East Portland community,” says Mary-Rain O’Meara, Director of Real Estate Development. “Jubilee Hall’s vision of serving immigrants and refugees while creating a welcoming space for the neighborhood — including Blackburn Center staff and clients — is exactly what the area needs.”
“Also, I love Diaspora’s chai. It’s delicious!”
It’s a natural fit. Jubilee Hall will hire recent immigrants and refugees, offering them first-step employment and a chance to build their US resumes. Employees will also take English classes on site, and get support as they plan next steps. As they interact with neighbors and customers, they’ll build confidence and feel more integrated into their new community.
That’s what happened for Sam. His first coffee shop job opened doors for him. He’d never imagined being a barista – much less the owner of several successful cafés — but the opportunity had wide-reaching impacts on his life.
“Our goal is not to train people to be baristas; it’s to help them build language, job and cultural skills,” says Sam.
The café will serve house-roasted coffee and house-made chai, alongside globally inspired baked goods.