As the holidays come up we look towards our community partners and supporters to help those that would otherwise not be able to enjoy the holidays. In the month of November we had several 3rd party events where donations to Esther’s Pantry and Tod’s Corner were collected with the barrels that we have. Two of our local establishments, Embers and Crush Bar, collected over $325 and 400+ lbs. of non-perishable food and personal care items. On top of this we received over $700 from The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon, which was used to buy over 30 meals for our NHCP clients.
The garden club has been working on winterizing the garden by filling dirt where needed as well as other tasks. As we look towards the winter months, they have started to plan what will be planted in the spring. Our head gardener, Ericka Crane, will start the process of contacting individual donors and organizations that helped this year in hopes of getting them to support us once again.
Our Social Work department will be taking on a new BSW student starting in the Fall. She will be working primarily in the residential program. One of our Social Workers is running a Music Appreciation group every 2 months, open to both Our House residents and clients of NHCP. Staff are invited.
Social workers are continuing their group for NHCP clients called “Self-Compassion Group.” It is a group discussion, supportive in nature, and focusing on the concept of Radical Acceptance. It has been very successful, with many clients sharing and making connections and friendships with one another.
Due to the rising pressures on landlords to increase their rents in order to sustain their business, several of our housing subsidy clients are being pushed out of their apartments due to being over allowances within the FMA (Fair Market Rent). This is putting a great burden on NHCP clinicians to search for housing in a short amount of time—and affordable housing opportunities are limited. Cascade AIDS Project is assisting us with advocating and searching. We currently have 2 clients who will need to leave their apartments after several years of living there, one of them has been there for almost 6 years. The team is scrambling to find them a place to live, but their great efforts so far have produced hardly any options. The landlord is allowing an additional 2-3 month stay until something can be found.
Clinical Directors met for a several times with a training consultant. He offered some basic “Training the trainer” strategies, which was insightful and will be helpful when we begin offering these trainings. We have not begun discussing implementation, but instead are working on a list of topics that all disciplines would like to see covered. The focus remains on developing “101 Quick Fact sheets” for three primary topics: HIV transmission/prevention, Professional Boundaries, and Intervening in a Mental Health crisis. Our “homework” for last month was to explore what trainings are already available in the community that we can “tap” into, and this was successful; however there is more work that needs to be done—more research, so that in October we can begin the writing.
It’s the 21st week for the gardeners and what a summer it has been! Our residents have been busy working in the garden and growing a bounty of different fruits and vegetables. Over the past 21 weeks the residents and clients have grown and harvested raspberries, kale, cucumbers, blueberries, beet greens, lettuce, radishes, and other items. These fruits and vegetables are used as supplemental additions to the food that we receive through donations and purchased items. Residents have learned the importance of working together as a team; and how each person’s position and input adds to the experience that they receive. It's been quite warm out there, and food is growing despite a few challenges. It's rather amazing to see what Mother Nature can do all on her own
On a personal note I was able to volunteer at our food bank and clothing store on Thursday, July 31st. I have been with Our House for a little over six years now and this was the first time I had the honor of volunteering at this wonderful program that we provide. Several of our clients, because of transportation issues and wanting to get to Esther’s when it first opens, were there to greet me when I arrived at 1PM. Esther’s Pantry and Tod’s Corner is open three days a week, and provides non-perishable and perishable food as well as men’s lightly used clothing and basic household items. Clients “shop” their way through Esther’s Pantry where they select their food boxes based on their dietary needs and current living conditions. The clients are walked through Esther’s Pantry where they select canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and dairy.
What touched me most about the experience was the stories that were told while shopping. The past that each of these people had – where they were, what they had done in their lifetimes, and where they were today. I was also touched by the gratefulness that each of the clients showed for these programs. One client said to me that while they use several other resources for supplemental food, that Esther’s Pantry was by far their favorite. When I asked why they said “The amount of respect, kindness, and lack of judgment that I receive when I am here is like no other. No one cares about my HIV status, they care about who I am as a person.”