Homeless Families: Changing Colors in Times of Adversity

As the crisp breeze of fall sneaks into the Northwest, the sun casts an orange hue on our lush folliage.  Beautiful autumn is here. Nevertheless our community faces challenges of the season. How do families keep warm, stay fed and maintain a roof overhead? 

    “According to the National Coalition on the Homeless (2002), the systemic or structural causes of homelessness, poverty and lack of affordable housing are on the increase… In every state, more than the minimum wage is required to afford a one or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. The gap between the number of affordable housing units and the number of people needing them has created a housing crisis for [people with a low-income]… The increases in poverty are partly due to a decline in public assistance programs. Early studies from the Welfare to Work program have concluded that although the total number of individuals who are on government welfare programs has gone down, the number of individuals who are now attempting to subsist on below living wage jobs without medical benefits has increased significantly. These people are always one paycheck away from homelessness.” (My Father’s House, KA)

    “Homelessness is growing exponentially at a rate of 37% each year, and the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old. There are more homeless families than there are homeless singles, and in Multnomah County there are over 3,000 homeless families on any given night.” (My Father’s House: A Community Shelter, OR)

The many organizations throughout Oregon which strive to support families facing homelessness and poverty are reliant on their volunteers.  Through service events and activities, Marylhurst University students, faculty, staff and associates are partnering with different organizations to provide these families the services they need. These organizations include but are not limited to the Oregon Food Bank and My Father’s House: A Community Shelter.

Marylhurst University Food Drive and the Oregon Food Bank: Marylhurst has traditionally held a food drive during the alumni events of Homecoming Week. The University will be collecting non-perishable, protein-rich food items and cash/check donations October 13th-18th.  There will be baskets dispersed all over campus. To contribute non-perishable, protein-rich food, please bring your donation to one of the following drop off points: Flavia Hall,  Marion Hall, The Old Library, BP John entrance, Clark Commons. To contribute funds (Oregon Food Bank’s greatest need), please visit Amanda Baker, Service Program Coordinator at Marion Hall Room 109, call (503) 699-4063, or e-mail abaker@marylhurst.edu. You can also make a donation online. Just click here.

Marylhurst University and My Father’s House: Students, faculty, staff and associates are invited to serve with an extraordinary oragnization whose mission is to meet the needs of homeless families. To find out more about volunteering with My Father’s House, please click here.

As colors change in fall, so do the needs of the season. “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” (Ghandi)

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Dress for Success

Success Story:

Nedra, Dress for Success Joliet After moving from Ohio with her three children to care for her recently disabled mother, Nedra needed to find a job that would allow her to support her family and continue her education. Dress for Success Joliet not only gave Nedra an interview suit but also provided her with refresher courses, job interview skills, résumé preparation and the confidence to land a job as a medical administrative assistant.

 Since then, Nedra has become an active member of the Professional Women’s Group which, she says, means being part of a group of women with many talents, goals, aspirations, wisdom and a sense of sisterhood I haven’t experienced anywhere else.” This support will help Nedra as she works to obtain a bachelors and masters degrees in nursing and achieve her ultimate goal of opening an adult day care center and assisted living facility.

Dress for Success Worldwide is an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women located in 85 cities across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands and New Zealand. The professional clothing, employment retention programs and ongoing support that clients are provided symbolize the organization’s faith in every woman’s ability to be self-sufficient and successful in her career.This is an ongoing volunteer opportunity. Although Portland does not have a Dress for Success hub, there are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer for this unique organization.

To volunteer visit:

 http://www.dressforsuccess.org/supportdfs_volunteer.aspx

To discuss ways of implementing a Dress for Success hub in the Portland area visit:

http://www.dressforsuccess.org/locations_howtostart.aspx

American Leadership Forum Seeks Help

ALF-Oregon is seeking help (either volunteer or internship) with their website — ALF in Action Class XXII Hunger Project — that addresses hunger in Oregon.

Here is what they need help with:

  • Monitor site, route incoming communications; success stories follow up
  • Create go forward communication plan for support of the website
  • Identify what content needs to be refined and how often
  • Work with Class 22 to discuss use of site
  • Tech resource to other classes/senior fellows who wish to use the site
  • PR – push out to public to increase awareness/knowledge (e.g. to schools, etc.)

The primary task is to address bullet #1 above (monitor site and incoming communications). The rest of it can be negotiated with the steering committee of the ALF class, depending on the interest and time availability of the student or intern who takes this on.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Robin Teeter at ALF-Oregon: rteater@alfo.org or 503-636-2288.

If you are interested in doing this work for internship credit, please contact Kirsten Gauthier-Newbury, Academic Internship Instructor: knewbury@marylhurst.edu, or 503.534.4025.

The Learning Garden

The Learning Garden at the Oregon Food Bank has spaces available to help on Saturdays from 9:00am-12:00pm.

Here’s what The Learning Garden is about:

Oregon Food Bank’s two Learning Gardens offer programs to address the root causes of hunger through increased nutrition, self-reliance and community food security. Goals include reducing the root causes of hunger, increasing the number of residents who grow a portion of their own food, supporting development and retention of Oregon’s growers and reducing the number of at-risk youth who will use emergency food as adults. OFB’s two Learning Gardens are vibrant gathering spaces that bring the community together to grow vegetables, relationships and hope.

The Gardens have approximately 1 ½ acres to care for.  Last year they raised almost 8,000 pounds of fresh food!

The Volunteer Coordinator or the Learning Garden Director can be reached at 503.282.0555 or email volunteer@oregonfoodbank.org