Our House News


 
 
Jul 10, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - Shirley Johnson

Receptionist
Volunteer Since September 1996

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
Years ago, we used to meet two gentlemen at a small restaurant on Hawthorne on Saturday mornings. One of the men had helped get Our House ready to open and had told me I should volunteer at Our House when I retired. We met a waiter there who had a partner who was HIV positive and we visited him once a week until he died. These two things made me want to volunteer at Our House where I have stayed for 21 years.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
Volunteering at Our House is a huge part of my life. I’m happy to be volunteering at a place where residents are treated with dignity and respect. I enjoy visiting with residents and their families and friends. I have met many wonderful volunteers and the staff is terrific. I feel the kindness and warmth when I walk in the door.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I love to read and have been in the same book group since 1999. I make cards, knit, volunteer to work on justice issues, and especially love spending time with my friends and family. I didn’t get to be a grandma until I was 69 and have fun playing with cars with my grandson!

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I grew up on a turkey ranch and was driving farm equipment when I was 12. We helped before and after school. I knew I wanted to go to college to be a teacher because I didn’t want to live on a farm! A big plus of going to college was meeting my husband Don who has put up with me for 50 years.

 

 
Jul 06, 2017
Please Welcome Director of Development Charles Stanton

Our House is very pleased to announce the selection of Charles Stanton as our new Director of Development. Charles brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position. He has many years of success in development and philanthropic relationship building which has enabled him to raise over 147 million dollars for clients and employers. He brings innovation and a fresh approach to community investment, stakeholder engagement and raising funds and awareness.

“I’m incredibly happy to join such an outstanding and well-respected organization,” notes Charles “I’m very passionate about the mission and I look forward to finding ways to insure our services are available to the people in our community who need it.”

Charles has garnered attention from regional, national, and international thought-leaders as a valuable and respected development and engagement professional and forward-thinking innovator. Recent presentations include several appearances with TedX, facilitating conferences for MuseumNext, serving as a guest lecturer on philanthropy with the Liebman Lecture Series, and as an occasional lecturer for colleges and universities training future administrators and change-makers. A recent article refers to Charles’ approach as “an energetic leveraging of philanthropic passion to create a powerful catalyst for social change.”

We hope you will join us in welcoming Charles to Our House, and we hope you will have the opportunity to meet him at one of our upcoming events!

 

 
Jun 28, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - Michael Brown

Lunch Helper
Volunteer Since August 2016

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
When I moved to Portland last summer, I wanted to find a way to connect with the community. After researching many opportunities, Our House stood out the most. I was excited to be a part of an organization that valued providing exceptional care to those in need.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
My favorite aspect of volunteering is connecting with the residents. The interaction with everyone is truly fulfilling. I love listening to those who are comfortable sharing their life stories. I also enjoy the many games of dominoes I get to play with one of the residents.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
During the week, much of my time is monopolized with work, so when I do get the opportunity to do something fun I try to do something that allows me to be outdoors. I enjoy hiking, running and cycling. I also love going to the movies, but mostly I find the most comfort spending quality time with my partner.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I am a HUGE Beyonce fan! She is my modern day Diana Ross! I just love her. I know it’s silly, but I can’t deny my ultimate affection for the diva.

 

 
May 09, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - Bucky Craft & Rita

Therapy Dog Team & Special Events Helper
Volunteers Since March 2015

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
Before I ever moved to Portland, I heard about Our House from two very good friends, Sally and Denny Bixby. Sally used to be the Development Director a while ago. Then, when I moved here, I met a volunteer, Jo Hamilton, in a dog park, and I was talking about my therapy dogs, and she said, “They’d be great to come to Our House” and that’s actually how I ended up coming here. I’ve been a therapy dog volunteer for 16 years, and of all the places I’ve gone, our House of Portland had been my favorite. And quite honestly, it’s the staff – they just have so much fun. I have some special friends downstairs, too.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
I think my favorite thing is watching people smile. In some cases, to have anyone come in is a big day for that person, but particularly when you have a dog, it just melts the toughest heart most of the time. It’s just nice to watch them smile and talk to the dogs and talk to me. Plus, the residents are great. I have more fun at Our House, really. Just watching people relax and melt down and pet a dog.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I volunteer at two other places doing the same thing. I go to a place over in Southwest for developmentally-disabled adults and then I go to an assisted living home just up the street from Our House. Other than that, I babysit one of my grandkids. I like to read and I like to walk and I like to eat. That’s about it!

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I grew up riding horses and I’ve had a horse up until last month. I’ve always had a horse. He was 30 when he passed, which is at least 10 years older than most horses live. I grew up riding and showing horses and raising and training dogs. I’ve had dogs that I’ve shown in dog shows. Rita, my current therapy dog, is a retired show dog.

 

 
Apr 14, 2017
Welcome Mary Rita Hurley as New Executive Director

Our House Executive Director Announcement

Our House is very pleased to announce that Mary Rita Hurley will be the new Our House Executive Director. Mary Rita is widely respected throughout the region as a dedicated professional committed to improving healthcare results for those who need it most. Through her work as a clinical nurse, Executive Director, university faculty, healthcare advocate, and nationally recognized speaker, Mary Rita will provide the leadership, vision, and innovation needed to continue the Our House legacy.

“All of us are excited to have Mary Rita join Our House. With more than thirty years of experience in the healthcare industry, she has a compelling personal and professional background that will allow her to succeed at Our House,” said Bob Speltz, board chair.

As HIV treatment and care continues to evolve, Mary Rita’s breadth of knowledge and experience enable her to bring a new perspective to our work. As a nurse she has worked with chronic illnesses including HIV, served on a regional AIDS Task Force, and was Chapter President of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. She also recently served as the Executive Director of the Oregon Center for Nursing.

“I am thrilled to be back in Portland and working with the amazing staff and dedicated Board at Our House,” notes Mary Rita, “Now more than ever, our community needs the integrated health and housing services Our House provides so we can continue to inspire people with HIV to live well.”

Mary Rita will begin as Executive Director on Tuesday, April 25th. We hope you will join the Our House Board and staff in welcoming Mary Rita to our organization, and we hope you will have the opportunity to meet her at one of our upcoming events!

 

 
Apr 12, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - George Allan

Dinner Cook
Volunteer Since January 2009

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
Bob Cramer drew me to volunteer at Our House. At that time, I was a hospice volunteer at Providence Hospice East, and I thought Our House would be interested in me because of that experience and because I had a background in mental health. Nathan took me all around and said, “We’re looking for a cook for breakfast. Do you know your way around a kitchen?” It was just so out of the blue that I didn’t have time to compute it. I thought that they might want me for some semi-clinical reason, for more of the mental health side of things, but it was for being a cook, so I signed up for that, and I was the Monday morning breakfast cook for 6 or 7 years. And I loved it! I’ve since moved to cooking dinner twice a month on Sundays.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
I like to get to know the clients. Getting to know those less fortunate and who struggle with the disease is deep with meaning. AIDS never aimed at anyone, just fired and shot who was there. The whole place was kind of addicting to me in the beginning. I’d never been around a place like Our House and haven’t been around a place like it since. It has some kind of magic to it. I feel good about what I do here.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I’m a hospice volunteer at Providence East Portland. I do respite care – I go and take care of the patient while the patient’s caregiver leaves for four hours. I have the patient for that amount of time and we just do what the patient wants to do.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I’m a native Oregonian farm boy. I lived on a working farm from age 3 to college graduation. We always had a couple head of cattle, my sister’s horse, many chickens, a one acre root garden, a fruit orchard, and a filbert orchard. The food was preserved in the fall and used all year. 

 

 
Mar 06, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - Chris Shauinger

Dinner Helper
Volunteer Since Feb. 2011

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
I had spent years in the restaurant business and the last of those years overworked and removed from the world. I love people and wanted to return to loving them, so I left my career and decided to go back to school to become a mental health counselor. A partner of a good friend was volunteering at the time and brought me in. Of course, I fell in love with the people. At Our House, I reconnect with my community in so many ways. It also gives me an opportunity to work in the field that I love.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
I walk in to Our House singing! What a pleasure and a privilege it is to volunteer here. I feel no expectations, no pressure. I let the busy world wait at the door and let myself be me and share those moments with beautiful people who have experienced real life. How truly blessed we are!

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I’m a full time student completing my Alcohol & Drug Counseling certification (CADC) and am doing my practicum at the DePaul Treatment Center downtown 15 hours a week. I am also a writing tutor for the Women’s Resource Center at Portland Community College. Aside from that, I love to read, go on long walks in Portland, and I’ve just started sprouting seeds for my fabulous garden!

What is something about you that would surprise others?
My shoe size is 8 1/2 but my heart size is actually 16 ¾! And I’m not all brain, haha! I used to dress display windows for Nordstrom. I love restoration work; from old houses to classic European vehicles.

 

 
Feb 16, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - Emily Ford

Dinner Cook and Dinner Series Committee Member
Volunteer since March 2015

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
Another volunteer, Ruth Aquino, is my ice skating coach, and she had been cooking here for 10 years. When we met, she learned that I had cooked for big groups and suggested I get involved. I’d worked in a retreat center cooking for 20-40 people and when I saw the Our House kitchen I was really impressed. So many commercial kitchens seem like dungeons and the Our House kitchen is so nice and big. And I just live a couple blocks away, so it’s easy to get here.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
My favorite aspect is that I just really enjoy cooking for other people. I’m good at it and there’s not much pressure – you know, it’s a relaxed environment. For me, because I’ve cooked so many times, I’ve become familiar with the residents, so it really feels like a community here.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I have a small business making custom handbags and bike bags for women. And I spend a lot of time ice skating. I’ve always been an athlete – I was in dance for many years and I started ice skating in San Francisco. I got a coach when I moved up here.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
Probably that I lived on an organic farm in rural California for 20 years. We had no power or water. My husband’s still there – it’s like modern-day homesteading. We grew walnuts and wine grapes, both of which we sold.

 

 
 
 

Wells Fargo - Circle of Life, Sustaining Sponsor Circle of Life
Sustaining Partner

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Quality of Life
Sustaining Partner