By Kim Montagriff
Northeast Community Center executive director
The Northeast Community Center (NECC) is pleased to announce that it is honoring Don Waggoner for his service and contribution to the center and to those who live, work, and play in Northeast Portland.
Don is a Portland native. He learned to swim at the old Northeast Family YMCA, attended Kellog, Holladay and Irvington grade schools, and graduated from Washington High School. After earning a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University, Don enjoyed a long, successful career at Leupold & Stevens.
Don reconnected with his Northeast neighborhood roots in 2005, when he heard that the YMCA would be closing its doors. Having learned to swim as a young boy at the Northeast Y, Don recognized the importance of a community center to the fabric of a neighborhood. Don worked alongside other committed Northeast neighbors to convert the Y into the independent, non-profit Northeast Community Center – a place where neighbors of all ages could gather, swim, play, move, laugh and connect.
Anyone visiting the NECC during that time would recognize Don as the visionary in the orange shirt. Don saw promise and potential in every space. He worked to renovate the historic, 1925 building, creating a warm and welcoming space for all ages. He saw possibilities where others saw only need, and he created windows where others saw only walls. Since 2005, Don has served many roles: board member, interim executive director, and volunteer extraordinaire. Not only did Don swing the sledgehammer and paint the walls, over the years he and his wife Eunice have contributed generously to help sustain this important community amenity. Don still remains active in the NECC, participating in fitness and wellness activities, meeting friends in the lobby, and sharing his ideas.
To honor Don’s extraordinary personal and financial commitment to the NECC and the community, the NECC has created the Don Waggoner Giving Circle. The purpose of the Giving Circle is to establish a permanent NECC Building Fund to ensure that the NECC facility is kept in good condition, and can continue to serve Portland’s Northeast neighborhoods for generations to come. NECC board members have unanimously committed personal resources to start this fund with a collective pledge of more than $40,000, and a prominent pillar in the main lobby of the NECC will permanently recognize members of the Don Waggoner Giving Circle. In February, the NECC will be hosting a dinner to honor Don Waggoner’s contributions to the community.