On a rainy Friday, the local suicide and substance abuse prevention nonprofit Lines for Life reported a ray of sunshine: a $1 million gift from Anne Naito-Campbell, a longtime board member of the organization.
To put the gift in perspective, Lines for Life reported just over $3 million in annual revenue on its most recently filed tax return, and that's up from $1.6 million three years ago.
Naito-Campbell said her family is giving the money to start an endowment for the organization.
"103 years ago my grandfather came to Portland from Japan and opened Naito Japanese Goods," Naito-Campbell said in a statement. "Today, my brother, my cousins and I are continuing the legacy my grandfather and my father began. With the sale of two of Portland's greatest landmarks: Montgomery Park and the Galleria, we will be investing in Lines for Life to make lasting and important change in promoting mental wellness in Oregon."
The Portland Business Journal reported this week that the Naito family sold Montgomery Park for $255 million to Seattle-based Unico. Unico also purchased the downtown Galleria earlier this year for $64 million. (The family has been in the spotlight this spring: Anne Naito-Campbell's daughter, Erica Naito-Campbell recently took the stand in the sexual assault trial of two local men.)
Lines for Life is working on addressing a public health crisis in Oregon: 825 Oregonians killed themselves in 2017, according to state figures, and 14,000 more ended up in the hospital after trying to kill themselves.
Oregon's suicide rate and its rate of substance abuse, the other issue Lines for Life addresses, have long been far higher than national averages. The organization fielded 110,000 calls, text messages and emails from people in crisis last year, double its volume of a few years ago.
Lines for Life announced the gift this morning at its Southwest Portland headquarters in the presence of Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Commissioner Sharon Meieran.
"Lines for Life is a valuable partner in our fight against mental health stigma and suicide, and we look forward to working together to make sure the Naito investment helps Oregonians for generations to come," Wheeler said in statement.
Meieran, an emergency room doctor, worked to bring attention to Oregon's opioid crisis before entering politics and helped push for the establishment of the Unity Center for Behavioral Health, a new facility for people facing mental health crises.
"We have a longstanding partnership with Lines for Life to serve everyone's mental health, from veterans to youth," Meieran said in a statement. "We're excited to see this substantial support from a legacy Oregon family to make way for future mental wellness."
Lines for Life Executive Director Dwight Holton says he's enormously grateful Naito-Campbell's efforts to help strengthen the organization, which long preceded today's gift. Holton says Lines for Life will establish an endowment with the money and use income from that endowment to pursue new projects such as its Youth Line and its work on prescription drug abuse.
"There is no stable, reliable funding for exploring new projects to reach people in crisis," Holton says. "It's all funding that comes and goes. This gift creates a reliable foundation to help us do innovative work."
The Naito family's gift comes at a time when media outlets around the state are working collaboratively to report on various aspects suicide in Oregon during the week of April 7-14. Those stories will be collected here.