I hope this note finds you and yours healthy and well. These are challenging times for all of us, in different ways. In the midst of all the distress in our community, something that remains incredibly heartening is the way people keep showing up. In addition to working directly with those in need, we are also working to build a supportive community where we all play a role in ensuring everyone can thrive – and the housing and economic justice that underpins health, well-being and, yes, the pursuit of happiness.
All that said, I am writing to share some fun news and invite you to help out as we meet our community’s needs. One thing we have heard over and over from those volunteering and donating important items: it sustains them, too, providing meaning when we aren’t always sure how to be useful.
Partnerships Make It Possible
We are so grateful for our partnerships with the Sunshine Division, the Portland Police Bureau’s charity arm, and the Hood to Coast COVID response team. Together we have been providing free fresh food boxes – filled with produce, dairy and meat – to 150 families in our affordable housing communities every week. In July, our generous friends at Titan Freight – including Keith Wilson and his daughter Lily, pictured here with a lot of new friends they met while social distancing – picked up and delivered the boxes to several locations. It really does take a village.
This fresh food box program is one of several new partnerships that are helping us increase resources available to our program participants. Big thanks this month also go to Eastside Starbucks and Red Lobster, who are stepping up to share food with our networks. 76 BBQ, a SE Portland food cart, is cooking for us weekly now, and Portland Rescue Mission continues to be an incredible partner, feeding our shelter residents from their own job training program. We feel fortunate to have such generous and caring partners in this difficult moment.
Welcome to Brielle Jones, our new Volunteer & In-Kind Donations Specialist! You may have met Brielle at our Powell Blvd. office reception desk, where she has been fielding calls for assistance and helping to manage our offices. We are thrilled that she is joining our team this month, working with me so we can expand our volunteer and in-kind donation opportunities and better meet the needs of our community. Welcome, Brielle! When you contact Human Solutions, you’ll be working with one of us to find the right volunteer opportunity.
As you may be aware, our 90-bed women’s shelter is a group setting, so to meet social distancing requirements during COVID we have worked with Multnomah County to reduce the number of people staying there. To continue sheltering 90 people, we opened a new motel location for 60 people where they can have their own room and bath, a safer layout for those vulnerable to COVID. We are working closely with the new shelter team to find out what they need in the way of volunteer help. The new location is near Mall 205 in East Portland, in case that’s convenient for you. You can read about this new shelter and two others the County is opening in this press release.
There are several active, local quilting/sewing communities supporting our work, bringing everything from scarves and COVID masks to beautiful home-made blankets all year round. This month we have a special shout-out to Gladstone Church of the Nazarene, who donated over 30 quilts – plus a pile of hats and scarves for our family shelter. It may not be cold right now, but it will be before we know it.
This cheerful team had already donated once, but realized they had more to give, so they circled back and added to their offerings! HUGE thanks to all the crafters and sewing-machine artists for your work, your commitment and your heart! We’ve lost count of how many lovingly sewn COVID masks you have given for residents of our shelters and affordable housing communities.
With big love and thanks, we bid a fond farewell to our rockstar volunteer Sara De La Torre Rust (pictured here with her husband Jacob), who worked with us for several months as she completed her studies at Portland State University. Sara made a name for herself when she repeatedly helped pick up food donations for our shelters — at odd hours and at zero moments’ notice! Thanks, Sara! You will be missed.
(Could you fill these shoes? We always need folks who can pick up and deliver food and other donations – on call or regularly. It’s a low-contact way to volunteer during COVID. Call or text me @ 503.278.1637 and find out how you can help
Ready to Help? Great. Let’s Get Started…
I check in weekly – sometimes daily – with our emergency shelter managers and resident services team at our 17 affordable housing communities. That way, I can share with you what their top needs are now. Here’s what they’re telling me this month:
- Bath towels
- Bed linens (twin, queen)
- COVID masks
- Drivers to pick up and deliver donations – on-call or regularly.
- Group dinners (for 40, 60, or 120 people)
- Sack lunches
- Toiletries (razors, travel-size soap, shampoo & conditioner, hand sanitizer)
If you’ve been looking for a way to make a difference and feel more connected to your community, this could be just the thing! Contact me to learn more, or sign up today: 503.278.1637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you’ll join us on the evening of October 1st for a very timely virtual art performance and conversation about being anti-racist. We are thrilled to be hosting brilliant thought leader Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (“How to Be An Anti-Racist,” among other books and articles) and Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty, longtime policy reform activist who also serves as our Board Vice-President. Details to come. For now, please mark your calendar for 6-7:30 PM on Thursday, October 1, 2020. It should a thought-provoking event for all of us.
Thank you, as always, for all the wonderful contributions you are making these days. It’s meeting needs and spreading joy around East Portland / East Multnomah County, one of the hardest hit areas in the state during this health and economic pandemic.
Yours in community,
Shawna Hoffman, Volunteer & In-Kind Donations Coordinator
PS – Short on time but still want to help? You can make a financial contribution right here 24/7. THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO!