Challenges and Victories

2020 Fall Impact Report

Building connections in turbulent times

This year, we’ve faced problems we never imagined. From a pandemic, to a recession, to a long-needed reckoning with racial injustice, to wildfires and a contentious election – 2020 has challenged us all.

Despite every difficulty, I have so much hope! Through it all, you’ve shown us the depth of your empathy and commitment to our community. Your support has made it possible for us to sustain and expand our crucial services.

In July, we started to offer weekly food box pickups at Oak Grove and Lot Whitcomb Elementary Schools. These schools have some of the highest rates of free and reduced lunch program enrollment in the North Clackamas School District.

“People are so happy we’re there,” says our driver, Nan Knight, who delivers food to the schools and helps oversee distribution. It’s tough to hear, but at least once a shift, a parent picking up a food box tells her, “I’ve never had to do this before.”

Offering culturally relevant services for kids and families

Each week, we serve an average of 40 families at each school. At Lot Whitcomb, a large portion of the student body is Latinx, and our bi-lingual resource navigator, Celess Roman, joins Nan there each week. Celess’ presence makes people feel at ease, Nan says.

“You can tell, she can just make such a deeper connection with the families, and obviously, communication is easier too,” she says.

Right away, we knew that we wanted to procure foods to better meet the needs of the families at Lot Whitcomb. Last month, thanks to support from donors like you, we began offering more culturally specific foods, such as masa, tortillas, peppers, and dried beans.

“The first time we brought those items to the school, people were so excited that we had the foods they use every day,” says Celess. “One mom was so happy that we had tortillas, she told me they were the last thing she needed for dinner that night.”

At our school distribution sites, families can pick up food boxes, clothing, and flowers. Trader Joe’s donates the bouquets, which are always a big hit!

While the school sites began as a summer project, this program will continue as long as it is needed. These off-site services were born out of the pandemic, and our desire to keep people safe by meeting them where they are. We’re in the midst of planning even more off-site food distribution events over the winter.

This year was hard, but thanks to you, there are so many people who are breathing easier. On a personal note, I cannot begin to tell you what your support has meant to me and my staff as we take on so many challenges. Thank you for everything!

Warmly,

Debra Mason

Executive Director

P.S. Beyond our success at local schools, there’s other good news to share. Through a recent partnership with LoveOne Oregon City, our portable showers are traveling the county for two days a week, serving more people than ever before. We’re also building an online order form which will make it easier for our members to order a home food delivery – in six different languages!

Our deepest thanks to Classic Business Printing Services for donating paper, ink, and time for the physical version of this newsletter.

BY THE NUMBERS

On average, each of the past three months we:

Made 345 home food deliveries

Distributed 335 food boxes at school sites

Served 1,790 meals

Gave away 683 bags of groceries during meals

Provided 246 showers