You know, I’m just not one of those types of people who doesn’t like people. Not there is anything wrong with not liking people, but it’s just not for me. Honestly, I love to like people, and people like Katie O’Farrell are the reason why.
The fact is humans are inherently social, empathic creatures. It just happens to be that some of us are better at it than others. Compassion is a choice, not a compulsion. O’Farrell understands this.
Born in midwest, where she obtained her Masters of Social Work from the University of Michigan, O’Farrell moved to Portland in 2003, just a few years before the growth spurt began in earnest.
“I had trouble finding a job in Michigan and I really didn’t like the environment,” she says.
Having never been to Portland, O’Farrell relied on the tried-and-true method of making huge decisions and getting solid information you can always rely on: The Internet.
“I was on a website called findyourspot.com,” she deadpans.
Of course, we all know sites that tell you everything from your political persuasion to whether you more resemble an orange than an apricot – based on a completely arbitrary set of questions – are all totally accurate and true. So, O’Farrell took the plunge.
“Portland was number two and San Francisco was number one,” she says. “I came out here because…”
There’s no real point in finishing that quote. We all know why she chose Portland. It’s the same reason people who already live in San Francisco choose Portland; a fact O’Farrell has come to recognize in her dozen or so years in the Rose City. Everyone is moving to Portland.
“There are certainly a lot more people here and housing prices have gone way up.”
She pauses, finishing with a short statement that succinctly puts a bow on her point. “The traffic.”
Still, despite the growing pains, O’Farrell loves Portland and loves what she does. Our fair city is lucky to have her hear helping our residents through tough times.
As a crisis counselor at a local urgent care facility that focuses on mental health, O’Farrell spends her time helping people. “I got into this work because I believe in the value of making a human connection,” she says. “There’s something really beautiful about someone opening up to you in ways that are really intimate.”
When she isn’t helping people, O’Farrell is emphasizing her empathy by helping animals. Recently, she adopted her first rescue dog, and has been watching as he blossoms in her care.
“He was skeptical of love,” she explains, “but it’s been a rewarding experience watching him grow and trust people.”
O’Farrell’s work with animals also extends beyond simple adoption. She actively supports (and hopes you will, too) the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank.
“They are run by amazing people who give pet food to people who can’t afford it,” she says. “They also help with veterinary care for people who need the help.”
So, put that on your Christmas list folks: Donations to the Pongo Pet Food Bank Fund.
Isn’t Portland just fantastic?
“I feel very safe and comfortable here,” O’Farrell says without hesitation.
We agree, and it helps to have PDX People like her out there providing a healthy dose of empathy and compassion in world that needs far more of both.
William Bessette – PDX People Contributor
William Bessette is a published author, poet and longtime journalist who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over twelve years. He currently works from his home in the Pacific Northwest profiling restaurants, reviewing local plays and reporting on regional, national and international travel.