Blanchet House of Hospitality (A wonderful place to volunteer)
The Blanchet House of Hospitality has to be one of my favorite places to volunteer. By this I mean, Blanchet has been a place that has fostered relationships, community, and opportunities of learning and experience for me. Now, before I start ranting about how much I love Blanchet, let me share with you who they are.
Founded in 1952, this non-profit serves those facing food insecurity as well as the homeless population. They never ask questions. They simply offer a hot meal, a place to sit and rest, and a volunteer (like myself) who will help them where possible.
Blanchet is rooted in the Catholic community, meaning they believe in Catholic social teaching principles including:
- Honoring the dignity of every person,
- Offering aid to the poor and vulnerable,
- And solidarity.
They offer a meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner—all prepared by a chef who cooks with entirely donated food. Think of it like the show Chopped on The Food Network, where the competitors are given a basket of random food and are told to make a five-star meal.
The chefs at Blanchet rescue fresh food that would have been otherwise thrown out from popular grocery stores—even places like Sesame Donuts! As a volunteer, you are invited to stay after a shift is done to enjoy a free meal, cooked up by the wonderful chefs. I can honestly say their food is delicious, which makes me proud to be serving it to people who deserve warm and nourishing food.
The services of Blanchet House do not stop there. On top of their food rescue program, they also offer a residential program for men to live right above the cafe (the place where all the meals are served). The program helps men struggling with addiction, unemployment, mental health, housing, or other challenges. It is Blanchet’s mission to help these men get back on their feet with stable housing, a job, all while contributing to the success of Blanchet by cooking, cleaning, or helping on the farm.
Yes, Blanchet maintains a 62-acre farm! Here, they take care of animals, beehives, and gardens. The farm is also an extension of their residential program to help in the process of rehabilitation from addiction.
While I could go on and on about the wonderful programs that Blanchet offers, I welcome you to go and explore their website, as I’m sure they can explain all that they do far better than I can. But what I can do is tell you it has had a large impact on the people who come in for meals and the people who serve those meals.
I have personally seen the gratitude on visitor’s faces when they receive a meal. I have felt the connection that’s built when I learn a bit of their story. The Blanchet House of Hospitality is a gem in Portland’s community, an organization that reaches a handout to those on the margins of our city. I offer an invitation for you to volunteer or learn more about them.
Trust me, it will be worth it.
Elisabeth Dellit is a 10th Grader at Jesuit High School. She enjoys reading, writing creative stories, baking/cooking and participating in her school’s drama program.