Non Profit

Classic Wines Auction: Spring Winemakers Dinner

What do local celebrity chefs of Aviary, Ned Ludd, Davenport, Noble Rot, Bent Brick AND Oregon's finer winemakers Brooks, Walter Scott, JK Carriere, Roco, Cameron and Crowley all have in common?   Oh, just a cool $3.2 million they, along with several others, helped to raise on behalf of Classic Wines Auction Spring Winemaker Dinners that goes towards five local (and very lucky) organizations supporting kids and families. 

I, on the other hand, was the very lucky recipient of generous samplings from the aforementioned chefs and winemakers.

Meals On Wheels People: Central Kitchen

Around this time for the last several years, Meals On Wheels People have asked me to help tell their story, and I gladly accept.   I recently started volunteering with my son to help prep and deliver meals twice a month, so I feel I can speak personally to the impact that I see when we knock on a door.  They help meet an incredible need in the community by serving roughly 5,000 meals each day to both homebound seniors as well as through various senior and community centers around the city and suburbs of Portland.  

This year, they asked me to profile more specifically the food itself, with an emphasis on the amazing abundance of fresh food they work to incorporate into each meal.   My first visit was to their Central Kitchen where they prepare the meals that are delivered to homebound seniors via a small army of volunteer drivers (according to their website, they depend on 500 volunteers a, wow).   In addition to all the fruits and vegetables, they even have a pastry chef to ensure fresh baked goods are a part of the mix. 

Food aside, I have developed an incredible fondness for the kitchen staff themselves, some of whom have dedicated the better part of the last 20 years to this mission.

The Girl Scout Promise

Back in the day, as a pigtail-wearing, skinned-knee young lass, I was a proud card carrying member of the Girl Scouts...particularly fond of arts + crafts, fire making, and, let's not kid ourselves, snack time.  Then my best friend decided we looked better in blue than we did in we switched to Bluebirds, and that was that.

Fast forward 30+ years (ouch), and I had the chance to revisit that world.  Girl Scouts Of America recently highlighted three volunteers from the Girl Scouts Of Oregon & SW Washington chapter, who all saw beyond the color of their skirts and, realizing the bigger opportunities Girl Scouts could deliver, spent their childhood as Girl Scout members, and were now paying it forward to the next generation of young girls.  As young women in their 20's who face a multitude of alternate choices for their free time, their personal commitment is incredible and inspiring.

And I see now, as both a business owner as well as the mother of a young girl fighting a seemingly uphill battle against the outside pressures to fit in, what Girl Scouts can help provide to girls from all walks of life.   The opportunity to see themselves as capable leaders.  As doers.  As change makers.  It's a message that is profound and measurable and cannot be underestimated.

Food Corps Portraits

A few months back, 180+ AmeriCorps volunteers descended on Portland and Lewis + Clark College for the annual Food Corps new-hire orientation.  Via these AmeriCorps volunteers and their passion for good food, {and even more important, access to good food}, Food Corps has made it their mission to educate kids in limited-resource schools on the growing, sourcing, cooking and consuming of healthy food choices.

The fabulous Sean Bowie and I photographed 200 portraits over the course of two days.  And despite the number of volunteers from such a wide range of backgrounds, their passion for the work they were doing with Food Corps was consistently clear....

Portland Monthly + College Possible

I have been an errant mother to this blog over the last few months but I can't think of a better reason to finally post again.  And this isn't so much a blog post to highlight my work as it is a nod to a dear friend and Executive Director of a most amazing program, College Possible.  A few months ago, I photographed Suzanne and the work she and her team are doing in David Douglas High School and wrote about it here.  And this week they were recognized by Portland Monthly in their annual Light A Fire as Portland's Best New Nonprofit.  Over the course of the last year and a half, they have made a tremendous impact on the future lives of several hundred local high school kids and I am so honored to have had the opportunity to visually capture just a hint of the passion and energy Suzanne and her team have dedicated to this mission.

College Possible

I don't recall giving much thought to the financing of college until I found myself shelling out a *lot of cash money for books, even by 1990's standards.  But the high school kids fortunate enough to be serviced by College Possible will be light years ahead of where I was as I entered my freshman year, which was scrambling for a job and scholarships at the last possible moment. 

Serving low-income students, it's an incredible program that partners with AmeriCorps members to provide high-school juniors and seniors twice a week counseling on the college application process, including SAT prep for the juniors and application assistance for seniors, as well as helping to identify resources for financial aid and scholarships.  The day I was there to photograph, they had a guest speaker from a local bank talking to the kids about budgeting and financial do's and dont's as a college student.

The Portland program was established a year ago, and has already impacted 150 Portland metro kids, with a goal of serving 1,600 by the five year mark.  And I know Portland's Executive Director, Suzanne Geary, {someone I hold in the highest regard both personally and professionally} along with her very inspired team, can make that happen.

Trillium Family Services: 2014 Home Grown Event

It takes a courageous soul to stand up in front of a crowd of hundreds and share a life story that would bring most people to their knees.  But in this case, as in the case of three others, this was an act of defiance, an act of showing life who's boss, and sharing the redemptive power of love and forgiveness and support that can be found in an organization like Trillium.

Annual Report: NOAH

I was asked by Network for Oregon Affordable Housing {NOAH} to help tell their story for their 2013 annual report.  As a non-profit established over 20 years ago, NOAH's goal is to serve as an affordable housing go-to resource and partner for individuals, communities, developers, federal agencies and others.  I was really struck by the perseverance and passion shown by the employees of NOAH, who fight an uphill battle every day between the crazy-making bureaucracy of the system and increasingly limited resources.  And as the economy has continued to stagnate, and with it, the difficulty even a typical middle income family can face with finding and keeping affordable housing, their role has become even more pronounced. But when you take the time to understand the impact their services can make on an individual level, the reasons for their continued commitment, despite the obstacles, becomes clear.