Spring is right around the corner and we are feelin’ it! What a difference a sunny day can make. The ability to be outside with others more often is a gift. We see you, our volunteer community, as a gift, too, and such an important part of the connected community we are so happy to be part of building.

As usual, we have plenty happening that we are excited to share with you, from sharing opportunities to cook, meeting our newest staff person you’ll might work with, learning about our trauma-informed approach and more. Thanks for reading – we sure appreciate you!

SAVE THE DATE: Our Spring Volunteer Orientation on April 17th

We hope you can join us next month for our quarterly Zoom orientation for current and prospective volunteers! It’s a casual time to meet our team, connect with each other, learn about Human Solutions (and our trauma-informed care approach) and find out about upcoming volunteer needs and opportunities. Here are the details:

WHEN: Saturday, April 17, 9:30 – 10:30 AM
WHERE: On Zoom, of course! (Click here when the time comes. Learn to use Zoom here.)
WHY: Because we like connecting with you and it’s a great way to meet others and know what’s going on. And, we figure you might want to build ties with Human Solutions’ broader work in the community – we do a lot!
WHO: Current, past and prospective volunteers!
RSVP: Not needed – just show up!
WIN THE RAFFLE: Anyone who attends is entered to win a lovely bottle of Winderlea wine (if that’s your jam) and a copy of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist.

We sure hope to see you there!

WOW! An Inspiring Bat Mitzvah Project

A huge thank you goes out to Mica, our youngest volunteer, from everyone at our Gresham Women’s Shelter, which welcomes all people who identify as women, non-binary or gender-queer. What an incredible evening of food and gifts she prepared for everyone on Valentine’s (or Galentine’s ?) Day!

As a part of her Bat Mitzvah service project, this local seventh grader planned a beautiful community-made Valentine’s Day dinner for 35 shelter residents after asking what they would enjoy. We encourage this approach because it prioritizes our residents’ goals for their futures – and it’s always important to consider dietary needs. Along with a delicious meal that she coordinated among friends and family, she made each resident an amazing self-care basket (pictured) complete with candy, make-up, gift cards and more!

Despite her event falling on the snowiest weekend in years, Mica persisted. The roads were challenging and much of the county was without power. Instead of rescheduling the event (as we offered), Mica insisted that the residents might especially appreciate a hot meal in such conditions. And right though she was, the love, care and support she displayed was a particular honor to witness. Showing people that they are special and valued is so important – especially for those experiencing homelessness who so rarely feel that from the systems where they seek services.

Welcome Analis, our Americorps VISTA

We’re excited to introduce you to Analis Rivasplata (pictured), who is spending a year with our volunteer and in-kind donations team through the federal Americorps VISTA program (run locally by Mercy Corps NW). She’s already helping our volunteer & in-kind donations coordinators, Shawna and Brielle, to organize and expand our efforts and think ahead to the days when we can invite you all back in person into our spaces. We can’t wait for that day to come (not for at least another few months)!

About Analis: Analis is a proud Peruvian-American born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Her mother was an elementary school art teacher and her father was an eclectic basement dwelling artist, and as a result, she was fated to be raised in the arts. She eventually learned how to tie her shoes, turn her tongue into a taco, and make macaroni and cheese, and she’s spent the majority of her life doing these things for foster youth. She has spent several years traveling both in the US and abroad, volunteering with numerous organizations ranging from safe homes for victims of human trafficking to farms growing organic fruits and veggies. She loves dogs, kids, plants, books and the smell of the hardware store. She takes a keen interest in tangible life skills and loves to get her hands dirty learning survival skills, basic mechanics, carpentry and plant identification.

What Is Trauma-Informed Care? Why Is it Important?

Since 2010, Human Solutions has incorporated the framework and principles of trauma-informed care into everything we do: the services we provide, the community partnerships we build and the peer relationships we create. At its core, being trauma informed means approaching every human being we interact with as if they’ve experienced trauma, because most have! Especially those who have experience with homelessness, housing insecurity, poverty, war, abuse, racism and other oppressions whom we partner with here at Human Solutions.

What this looks like in practice is engaging with people from a place of empathy, understanding and kindness – not judgment. We ask what happened to them along the way, not what they did wrong. It’s not only effective in social-service delivery, where we know from experience that people do better when they feel understood and supported not judged, it’s also a wonderful way to approach each other – in every part of our lives – as human beings of value, deserving of positive communication, empathy and respect. To learn more, check out our short video about how we practice it at Human Solutions.

When we eventually return to in-person volunteering, we’ll invite you into this practice so that your interactions with participants in our programs are healthy for all involved. Of course that’s everyone’s goal, and having this framework and these tools will help us ensure that our actions reflect our intentions.

Like to Cook? Sign Up for a Community-Made Meal @ Shelter!

One thing folks are doing a lot of right now with so many restaurants closed is cooking at home (like it or not, right?!). We hope you’ll consider sharing some of your home-cooked goodness with residents at our three emergency shelters. During the COVID-19 era, we are hosting drop-off community potlucks, where you bring a dish for 12 and drop it at a shelter on the designated day and time. It’s a great way to contribute, and you should see the incredible meals people create together, from their own kitchens!

It’s easy to find a convenient potluck date and location on our online calendar. The gist is you find the right date for you, and then follow the link to a SignUpGenius page where you can decide what to bring and add your name. Residents love the variety and appreciate knowing that folks care enough about them to bring food. Sharing food is a powerful connector, and connected communities are powerful drivers of change!

Special events coming up are: Spring Break High School Meal and our Spring Fling in early April.

You can also host a drop-off potluck yourself, meaning: you pick a date, round up the cooks and we provide the easy sign-up and on-site supports. Contact Brielle on our team to learn more and get started! You can call/text her on 971.806.7759 or potluck@humansolutions.org.

Canned Food Drive for Our Shelters!

We work daily with our awesome shelter kitchen coordinator, Christina, to learn what she needs from the community to make her kitchen sing. This week she let us know that she is low on the canned foods she uses to prepare meals for the 220 residents at our three shelters. You can deliver directly to any of the shelters (all in East Portland and Gresham) by coordinating with Shawna, our volunteer coordinator, at 503.278.1637 or volunteer@humansolutons.org. Here is what she needs this month:

  • Broths: Veggie, Chicken and Beef
  • Carrots
  • Chili
  • Corn
  • Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soups
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Fruit
  • Green Beans

If you can pick up some of these items next time you’re at the store, we’d sure appreciate it!

Thanks, as always, for being such an important part of our community. Together, we are building a more just future. #thisiswhatcommunitylookslike