In July, the Oregon Convention Center Sales Team, headed by OCC Director of Sales Cindy Wallace, paid a visit to Blanchet House in Portland to tour the facilities and volunteer their service. They started in the Founders Café, where team members took assignments to plate and serve free, hot meals to each individual in need who came through the door.
“It was amazing to be a part of such a well-run feeding program, which provides three square meals per day, six days a week, with the help of more than 5,000 volunteers each year,” said Wallace.
The Founders Café at Blanchet House in downtown Portland.
The facility, program, and feeding efforts are run by eight staff members, including Greg Baker, Blanchet House Executive Director, who met with the OCC team to share his thoughts about the facility’s mission.
“One of the most important aspects of our operation is the Major Works Program, which is a transitional shelter for men struggling with addictions and other issues,” Baker explained. “Program participants are assigned a case worker who works with them to enrich and improve their lives, and each are required to contribute service to the feeding program six days a week.”
There is also the Farm Residential Program for men in recovery, which is on 60 acres of farmland in Yamhill County. Residents are required to work in the woodshop, care for the hens and hogs, and maintain the fruit trees and land. Most of the furniture in the downtown facility is made at the farm.
“What really impressed the team was the extent of the program and the variety of people they serve,” said Wallace. “This experience left each of us with a true sense of community, a desire to continue volunteering, and pride in representing the convention center.”
OCC and its catering partner pacificwild donate approximately 50,000 pounds of food to Blanchet House annually, as well as many toiletry items for the men in the Major Works Program, and continues to be one of the charity’s largest donors.
Blanchet House has served over 16 million meals since they opened their doors in 1952 with the mission “to feed, clothe, and offer shelter and aid to those in need.” Its new 36,400 square foot downtown facility is LEED Platinum certified, and includes a rooftop rainwater harvesting feature that sustainably processes approximately 63,000 gallons yearly.
Those interested in learning more about Blanchet House or how to volunteer can visit their website at www.blanchethouse.org.
The Oregon Convention Center is owned by Metro and managed by the Metro Exposition and Recreation Commission. OCC is a LEED Platinum certified facility hosting groups from around the world and bringing millions of dollars into the Portland and Oregon economy.