The Latest @ Human Solutions, February 2020

Mid-winter greetings from Human Solutions! It is dark, wet and cold out there, so we are finding joy looking back to our annual holiday toy drive, which reached more families than ever this year (some fun stats and photos on that, below). BIG thanks to everyone who contributed to our year-end fundraising campaign this year – you really came through to invest in our work and your community. Thank you! Forgot to give? It’s never too late! We gratefully accept donations every day right here. With wealth inequality, extreme homelessness and a full-blown housing crisis on our hands, our community needs us more than ever right now – and we rely on your support to push back on all that is hurting our neighbors.

Below are some highlights from our work in East Portland/East Multnomah County, our home:

Visit the Emerald City @ Our Annual Auction & Gala
If you think it sounds fun to walk the yellow brick road, meet the Tin Man or journey to the Emerald City, you’re in luck! Our annual auction and gala is right around the corner on Saturday, May 2nd, and that is exactly what you will find there. Yes, we are inviting you to Oz. Just follow the yellow brick road to the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland for a very special evening. Tickets and tables are already on sale – and we welcome corporate sponsorships, too. This is going to be a night to remember – one that extends the reach of Human Solutions to even more of those who need our support.

All the event info you’ll need and tickets, too, are on this  page. Don’t miss your chance to visit the Emerald City!

2020: People Still Write Thank You Notes!
I don’t know about you, but I grew up writing and mailing thank you notes on *paper* (I know SOME of you remember those!). While for most of us these days an email or even a quick text suffices, it is not uncommon here at Human Solutions to receive a hand-written note from a family who is now in a better place. I want to share a recent thank you note sent recently by a resident at our family shelter, Lilac Meadows. Click here to see this beautiful note. Kudos to our awesome team and to Tasha and her family; we prefer to give them all the credit, because overcoming the systemic, traumatic and sometimes personal barriers to get to that better place is incredibly hard work. Together we are powerful.

Meet Shawna, Our New Volunteer & Donations Coordinator
Volunteers and donations of needed items are a critical part of our operations, as you might imagine. We said good-bye recently to Christina, who managed our shelter volunteer and donation programming for several years (you may have partnered with her!). While she left big shoes to fill, we are thrilled to introduce you to Shawna Hoffman, who we know can fill them!  Shawna says, “I look forward to meeting and working with each and every one of you to meet the needs of our shelter residents and connect you to meaningful community work.” If you want to learn more about volunteering with Human Solutions or donate something we need (see image to right), contact Shawna at: or 503.278.1637. She’ll be glad to hear from you 🙂

We’re Always Learning, Join Us!
Human Solutions is a learning organization. As such, we take in a lot of books, articles, videos, and more that help us deeply understand our work, our society and economy, and our role in the community. Today I am pleased to share some recent highlights for the viewers, the listeners and the readers out there. Enjoy!

  • Podcast: If you are interested in dismantling white supremacy and the patriarchy, as we are, listen to Seeing White and Men (they’re both series, so grab some tea and settle in).
  • Video: Race and Redlining from NPR’s Codeswitch.
  • Article: Who Killed the Knapp Family? By Nicholas Kristoff (powerful opinion piece with an equally powerful follow-up).

Our Annual Holiday Store Was a BIG Success
It’s a wrap – literally! We used 670 yards of wrapping paper to send 191 families home with about 2,000 gifts and 250 gift cards (worth $5,350!) for 620 kids. Not to mention the 30 dozen cookies our friends baked and shared. It was so much fun!

None of this would be possible without the support of our community – gift buyers, volunteers (114 this year), lunch donors, event sponsors, committee planners and more! Our Holiday Store is a labor of love that brings joy to all involved – givers and receivers alike.

We’ll be doing it again in 2020, so please stay tuned later this year when we put out the call for event sponsors, toy donors, committee planners, and more. It’s a pretty great way to celebrate the season of sharing.

Multnomah County 2019 Poverty Report
In early December, Multnomah County released an important and useful update to its 2014 Poverty Report that we recommend to anyone interested in ending wealth inequality and homelessness. Two things that unfortunately didn’t surprise us here at Human Solutions: People of Color and residents of East County, where we focus our work, experience poverty disproportionately. We were angered by the familiarity of the data when it comes to poverty concentration and the disparate impacts of racist policies on People of Color, especially Black Americans. Some key takeaways to inspire your engagement:

  • Since 1990, the county’s population in poverty grew at almost twice the rate of the county’s population as a whole.
  • The highest poverty areas in the county are east of I-205, where up to 22% of residents are impoverished.
  • The median hourly wages in 8 of the 10 most common jobs in the County are unable to support a family with young children.
  • Poverty rates for African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinxs are more than twice the rate of white residents.
  • Public safety net programs have eroded to the point that most fail to lift people above the poverty line.

Our work is squarely aimed at countering the forces that produce these very disturbing trends. Join us and learn more about how we are pushing back at

We’re Hiring! Join Our Team.
An organization our size is often hiring. Check out our current openings and share them with those who could be a good fit (maybe it’s you!).

Thank you, as always, for being part of our community. There is such great injustice out there – we appreciate you being part of our work to overcome it.



Andy Miller, Executive Director

PS – Inspired by what we’re doing? Please consider a donation to keep us going strong – we’re open 24/7 right here: (thank you!)