Supplemental Food for People Living with HIV/AIDS

by Our House of Portland
Vetted

Last month, the beautiful ladies from MAC AIDS team stopped by to hand us a check for our supplemental food program.  MAC matches their employees time volunteering with funds for that organization and we are so grateful that the Oregon and Southwest Washington MAC AIDS team volunteers for us.  Also, we are also a no waste facility.  With over 200 clients a month, there is not that much waste, however, if things are about to expire and we are not open for the next couple days, we take them across the street to a housing project so they can use the food before it expires.

 

The garden has been very active (socially and producing) with the weather being so nice.  What is the best way to get people to eat their vegetables? Have them harvest the veggies themselves, and that is exactly what is happening!  The kitchen is reaping the rewards of beautiful produce that the residents are helping to harvest.  Lettuce, herbs, and peas are stalking the menu.  However, the garden is so much more than providing fresh produce for the kitchen.  It is giving the opportunity for our residents to be outside, social, and work together with the staff to create a healthy and fruitful garden. 

We are very excited to be getting our hands dirty in the garden again after winter.  It is wonderful to see how when the sun is out the mood is lifted.  Our volunteer Garden Manager and residents are back in the garden with big plans for this summer.  Clients, residents, and volunteers are busy outside with their walks, soaking up the sun, and planting the first crops. Our lettuce will be the first fresh vegetable to be prepared in our kitchen for the residents to enjoy.  How could we make a big green salad better? By making it with greens the residents have grown themselves. 

 

Our House’s food program Esther’s Pantry continues to received high quality donations from New Seasons Market and Whole Foods on a weekly basis.  Because of these donations, among others, and the supplemental food from the Oregon Food Bank, we are making it possible for over 200+ monthly clients to take home more nutritious food.  However, there is still room to grow. 

Often times we think of food as the primary way to feed our body’s and souls.  It helps us to maintain our health, gives us fuel to do things, and brings us together with friends, family, and others.  It helps us feel good when it’s cold out to have a grilled cheese and tomato soup, or to eat a pint of our favorite ice cream while watching a sad movie or TV show. Food IS necessary to keep us going, but so are our furbies.
Several of our clients at Esther’s Pantry and Tod’s Corner have come to rely on their pet companions for both emotional and physical connection.  If they have a dog they might be seen walking around the neighborhood conversing with others, at the park throwing a ball, or just sitting on a bench watching as others go by.  If they are a cat owner maybe they are enjoying the comfort of their feline friend layed out in their lap, watching them run after a catnip toy, or scratching their heads as they butt your hand wanting attention.
The residents at Our House also get to enjoy pets through volunteers who bring in their dogs to visit once a week.  Not to mention the many cats and dogs that our neighbors have that interact with residents on their walks or while working in the gardens. 
Our services for people living with HIV look not only at their physical health but their overall well-being too.  For many, a companion pet provides unconditional love, companionship and plenty of smiles.  Thanks to the support of our generous donors, the Our House Companion Pet Care program enables us to provide annual wellness exams, vaccines and more for our clients who have pets in their lives.
As John Grogan said in ‘Marley & Me’ - "It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them”
One of our clients recently wrote us about his dogs Buddy and Abby and how Companion Pet Care has helped him over the years:  
"My first dog Buddy literally saved my life as I was going through the throes of AIDS. I had to stay alive as he needed me to care for him- feeding and walking and bathing. Our House was there to help with his health while he was helping me with mine just by being there. He was my little hero. At 13 he let me know it was time. You helped me pay his vet bill and for his proper cremation. Thank you.
Abby was my second dog; she takes care of me. It's been hard aging with AIDS. At times I've been very depressed. Abby's always there. She pushes me out of bed with her nose as soon as I wake up. It always makes me laugh. Abby and Buddy gave me life on those days when I wouldn't have got out of bed. They've saved my life and in turn so has Out House. Your services are priceless; you help so many people and the pets we love."
Clients receive free pet food and accessories at Tod’s and Esther’s. We recognize the importance that they bring in our lives and are fortunate to receive donations from donors, like you, that may have a pet in your life or someone you know. 

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It sure has been a couple of busy months since our last report in August! 
The Our House Dinner Series “Dinner at My House for Our House” kicked off in July but it’s not until August and beyond that we see the full force of these amazing events.  The vents include dinners at people’s homes, venues, wineries, and other locations.  “Dinners” can be something as exquisite as a 7 course dinner to creating cupcakes or riding a bike around Sauvie’s Island! 100% of the proceeds go back to Our House and the hosts putting on the event take care of all costs.  The dinner series helps us with our programs Esther’s Pantry, Tod’s Corner, and Neighborhood Housing and Care Program (NHCP).  It is not only an opportunity to raise funds, but to introduce people to these programs and services that they may not be aware of.
In September Our House was awarded as one of the top ten workplaces to work by the Oregonian Media Group, and number one by the Oregon Business Magazine's 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015 for medium size businesses.  This recognition was greatly appreciated by staff, board, and all those associated with Our House and a testament to the people at Our House.
Our Garden Project has been put to sleep until next year. The beds have been covered with leaves and will start again next year.

Links:

Looking at the end of another summer and what a summer it has been!   The garden has been growing like crazy as has the support that we have seen.

Our House ‘s resident Therapeutic  Garden Director planted some seeds and reaped the bounty of a new position at the Multnomah County HIV Clinic; she was also accepted to Portland State for the Master’s in Public Health Program starting in September.  Her past years of working in the garden has helped establish the program that it is now which includes a reference manual on how and when what needs to be planted.  She also was instrumental in getting volunteers, staff, residents and clients involved with weekly harvests and helping teach people the benefits of outside gardening.

Though we have said “good-bye” to our resident green thumb fear not as we have “hired” a volunteer who has just as much passion.  He has helped take over the helm and continued the great work that was started.  The residents / clients continue to thrive as we start to get ready for fall planting and cleaning of the summer bounty.

 

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Organization Information

Our House of Portland

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.ourhouseofportland.org
Project Leader:
James Lindquist
Portland, OR United States

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