A Passion to Help Others

Interview of Bruce Warner

By Jathan Janove

Board Chair Bruce Warner has served on VOA Oregon’s Board for over 16 years. He’s a professional engineer who served in public administration until his retirement, having held leadership positions with the Oregon Dept. of Transportation, the City of Hillsboro, the Army Corp. of Engineers, and the Portland Development Commission.

Bruce has long had a passion for helping people in especially challenging life circumstances. He attributes this to personal experiences. He and his wife Pamela tried to help her sister who died from alcoholism. They saw how hard it was for someone without adequate financial means to find help and treatment. 

Bruce Warner portrait

Their son, Matt, was a bright, insightful young man with a bent toward helping others, but Matt suffered from anxiety. After a back injury, Matt became addicted to oxycontin that had been prescribed for his pain. Through an overdose of oxycontin, at age 22, Matt ended his life.

Experiencing, firsthand, the toll that addiction takes and knowing others who have also struggled, or have seen loved ones struggle further developed Bruce’s advocacy for the work of VOA Oregon. He specifically notes VOA Oregon’s men’s and women’s residential treatment centers, outpatient services, childcare, and programs for families.

Throughout his career, Bruce has realized the importance of affordable housing. He worries that retiring Baby Boomers and inevitably generations that follow, will have shockingly few resources on which to retire. He cites a 2019 study from the Insured Retirement Institute that found that 45% of retirees have no retirement savings. This means these seniors will likely be dependent on Social Security to survive.

Bruce is proud that VOA nationally is the country’s largest non-profit provider of affordable housing. “With rapidly increasing housing costs,” he says, “affordable housing for seniors has become a huge challenge. Fortunately, organizations like VOA are doing what they can to meet this burgeoning need.”

Today, Bruce remains devoted to the mission of VOA Oregon. “I feel fortunate to be part of this organization. Kay Toran and her team inspire us to help fellow community members in need.”