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Multnomah Village-based nonprofit is a place for giving and receiving

PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGINA YOUNG-ELLIS - Multnomah Village-based nonprofit Neighborhood House has been helping Portlanders since 1905.It may seem like a non-profit organization designed to help families in need is obviously sincere; no need to point that out. However, Neighborhood House is special because it has been a driving force in helping people since 1905. Founded by the National Council of Jewish Women, its first initiative was a sewing class for girls. On April 8, 1912, the Jewish Tribune said about the organization: "There seems to be an all-prevailing spirit of progress, gentleness, and feeling of good to all in the air in Neighborhood House."

YOUNG-ELLISThough times have changed, and with them Neighborhood House's reach and scope, that feeling still remains. Today, Neighborhood House helps people all over Portland, including here in in our southwest community, in a variety of ways. They assist homeless families with transitional housing, and homeless or low-income families to sign on for food stamps and other food resources, as well as to get help with transportation, childcare, senior services, health plans, and even locating furniture. Development Director Mari Yerger shared with me that Neighborhood House's Stability and Opportunity Services is piloting a new Resource Center to help people more easily access many of these services. "The agency is also currently testing a new affordable diaper program that will allow low-income families purchase diapers at-cost," she said. "One in three families cannot afford to purchase a healthy number of diapers for their babies. Through a partnership created by the White House with, Neighborhood House will make the diapers available to the families in our programs to help them stretch their tight budgets."

As another benefit to families with small children, in May of 2014 the Neighborhood House Children's Center at 6650 SW Capitol Highway opened: a beautiful 7,000 square foot facility with three classrooms dedicated to the Head Start program, and another in which parenting, literacy, ESL, and other family strengthening programs take place, ultimately consolidating three existing Head Start locations under its roof. For older kids, Neighborhood House's Schools Uniting Neighborhoods program at a variety of schools around Portland are full-service community centers that help kids increase their connection to their schools by providing homework help and tutoring, arts and sports, a before and after school haven, classes for adults and access to social services such as energy assistance, counseling and food boxes.

This brings me to their Emergency Food Box Program. Food can be hard to come by for some families any time of year, but around the holidays, when we all want to provide special meals for our loved ones, the pinch can really be felt. Located at 3445 SE Moss Street, which is behind the main southwest location at 7780 S.W. Capitol Highway, the program has specific hours and one must qualify to be eligible. Yerger stressed that the Emergency Food Box Program receives no public funding at all. It is supported one hundred percent through community support, and the most effective way to support the food pantry is by cash donations. "Our Emergency Food Box Program is still the largest food pantry on the west side, and is feeding about 350 households each month," she explained. "Each dollar contributed allows the pantry to provide four pounds of food to hungry families.

"Neighborhood House's annual year-end giving appeal is called the Partnership Campaign, and our goal for this year is $215,000, up from $210,000 last year," Yerger added. "People can make a secure donation through our website at" Be sure to check out the Winter Wishes wish list on Neighborhood House's website for the most needed items for their families and programs.

Finally, Yerger wants people to know that Neighborhood House suffered a funding loss this year due to changes at Multnomah County. "This deeply impacted our safety net services," she said, "especially our programs that helped people with their utility bills," which last year helped nearly 8,000 people. "Neighborhood House is working to find alternate ways to support struggling families meet their basic needs for food and housing," she said.

For this reason, it's especially important to support Neighborhood House now. If you're looking for a way to add meaning to your holiday, donating to their programs in whatever way you can is a great way to do it. Or if your family needs assistance, Neighborhood House is an excellent resource to get you through a difficult time. To get more information, you can call them at 503-246-1663 or visit the website.

Georgina Young-Ellis moved to Multnomah from Queens, N.Y., in 2015. She explores the world outside of big-box chain stores to find local businesses intent on customer service, customer satisfaction and a pleasurable customer experience. To read more about her experiences at Portland-area shops, visit

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