Our Community is Really Stepping Up: Here’s How

Our Work Must Be Driven By and Toward Racial Justice

I sincerely hope this message finds you and yours healthy and safe. It goes without saying that this is a trying time on many levels for our local and our global community. Human Solutions condemns the violent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor – and all who have come before, names we know and others we never will – and stands with their families and friends in their call for justice. Our hearts right now are with our Black staff, program participants and partners; we support them as they endure more painful reminders of the simple injustice that it is still not safe to be Black in America. At Human Solutions, we have pledged to advance the cause of racial justice every day and will continue to work to undo the knots racism and anti-blackness tie around our strangled community. In fact, our 2018-2023 Strategic & Equity Plan lays out that work and we invite you to review it here.

In East Multnomah County where Human Solutions has made our home for 32 years, we are doing everything we can to support our team and our neighbors through one of the most trying times in recent history. As you may know, the east side of the Portland metro area has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 – it also is one of the most diverse areas of our state and one that has suffered from years of disinvestment and institutional neglect. It comes as no surprise to us that People of Color and other oppressed communities living in our service area suffer disproportionately from the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

For Human Solutions, these facts only increase the importance of our work to counter the forces causing poverty and homelessness and reinforce the urgent need to build the healthy neighborhoods that our community has been demanding. We are determined to use this moment to shine an even brighter light on the racism built into our housing and economic systems so that we cannot simply recover from COVID-19 – but can in fact can #BuildBackBetter. We plan a reset, not a reopening, because what we had before the pandemic only set the stage for its grave impact on our community. Our vision has been and remains a region that works for everyone, where housing and economic justice become the air we breathe, where the toxic forces of White Supremacy and patriarchy that cause poverty, homelessness and oppression are vanquished. If it sounds like a big vision and a lot of work, that’s because it is.

THANK YOU for being part of the Human Solutions community; together we are capable of accomplishing this most important task.

– Andy

A Note from Shawna, Our Volunteer & Donations Coordinator

Hello from Human Solutions!  I sure hope that you and your loved ones are staying healthy. I am writing from my home office, aka volunteer central for Human Solutions J  Those of us who can are still working remotely until it feels safe to return to our offices. Our frontline workers are doing hero’s work in our emergency shelters and other support programs. As the volunteer and donations coordinator for our two emergency shelters

I am writing today for two reasons: 1) to update you on the amazing community support we are seeing in this moment and 2) to share ways for you to plug in if and when you are able. We know not everyone has time right now or can get out. If that’s you, we invite you to help by shopping our Amazon WishLists or making a financial contribution.

We Are So Grateful! Incredible Community Support Happening!

Huge thanks go out from everyone at Human Solutions to all of you who have stepped up to make our programs work and to invest time, energy, and donations of all kinds. You are showing us what it means to build a supportive community where every one of us has an affordable place to call home and the economic autonomy to pursue their dreams. Thank you!

A few awesome things to share:

  • We have been partnering with Blanchet House on the west side to bring hundreds of sack lunches to shelter and affordable housing residents. Here’s a photo of me delivering some to the Gresham Women’s Shelter! We’re grateful to them and all the folks around the region making the lunches. What a community effort!
  • We’re also partnering with the Portland Rescue Mission to prepare hot dinners some nights, which residents love. They also treated both shelters to their mobile food truck last week, rolling in and serving street tacos one night and BBQ the next. Pre COVID they operated the truck as a for-profit business to help fund their programming, but with that business at a standstill they are donating their meals to keep their job training program running.
  • In another important new partnership, we’re working with The Rosewood Initiative and Prosper Portland in a win-win arrangement where government funding is being used to help small, local businesses cook meals for our shelters. East Portland restaurants Chai Thai and Nelly’s Taqueria are feeding nearly 150 shelter residents every Sunday and Monday night through June. The Rosewood Initiative has a GoFundMe to keep the program going once the Prosper funds run out.
  • Folks are sewing us masks! Wow, the sewers in our community are very busy and generous, too! Thank you to all the industrious sewers out there who have reached out and helped us make sure that our staff and program participants have the protection they need to stay healthy right now. Aren’t the rainbow of masks in this photo gorgeous? A local woman made them for us! Building community is beautiful J

Wow, right? Our community is really stepping up right now and it feels so great! Let’s keep it going forever, right? I think we can!

How You Can Help Now: We Still Need You!

I touch base with our shelter managers weekly if not more to see what they need from the community. At the moment, topping their list is:

Lilac Meadows Family Shelter (drop off at 7740 SE Powell)

Gresham Women’s Shelter (drop off at 162nd & E Burnside)

  • Hygiene items like shampoo/conditioner, razors, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste
  • Art supplies like colored markers and pencils, art paper for painting, coloring books (adult), other creative supplies (jewelry making, knitting, etc…)
  • New or gently used bath towels
  • Here’s our Amazon Wish List for this shelter.

LearnLinks Kids’ Program (Contact Tonya at tparson@humansolutions.org)

Do you have a license, time and access to a car? We are building a list of volunteer drivers to help us pick up and deliver donated items when needed. Just email or call me and I’ll add you to the list and be happy to answer any questions you have.

We’re also very open to your ideas! Please reach out anytime – some of our best ideas come from you out in the community.  You can reach me three ways:

I look forward to connecting with you soon. It’s really heartening in these times to see our community take care of those impacted hardest by COVID and our inequitable economy and housing markets. Thank you for being part of this community we love and call home.