Our House News

Sep 13, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - Robby Bricker’Voyles

Esther’s Pantry Companion
Volunteer since December 2009

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
I was born in 1978, so AIDS has always been a part of my life. Growing up in the shadow of AIDS, it just seemed natural to me that I should help. I’ve lost an uncle, I’ve lost boyfriends, I’ve lost friends to AIDS. When I applied to volunteer at Our House, I don’t think I even knew Esther’s Pantry existed, but they asked whether I wanted to help out, and I was just blown away. I didn’t know what the clients and the volunteers would think, I didn’t know if they’d like me or if I’d fit in, but I found that I just fit in like a duck to water. What a great thing that I get to do to love on people and give food and clothing away and give them unconditional love and support! I don’t take anything from it, I just give and give and give. I get more than I give, though – I get friendships, hugs, and love, so I get way more than I give.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
The clients themselves – this diverse, beautiful, complex, amazing group of individuals who I get to come in contact with on a monthly basis over the course of four Tuesdays a month. I get to see about a quarter of the people we serve. It’s them. It’s the clients themselves who are the heart and soul of the reason why I keep coming back.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I have a wonderful job at the Oregon Zoo; I am a husband, a father, a stepfather, and a grandfather. Don and I have been married six years now. I’m also a proud rescue dog father – I wear many other hats than Esther’s. But Esther’s is really the cornerstone of the week for me because for a few hours, I can step out of those other roles and just focus on the clients.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I am actually somewhat shy until you get to know me. I really actually am. But once you get to know me, you can’t shut me up!


Aug 08, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - John Lusk

Dinner Helper & Receptionist
Volunteer Since August 2002

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
I moved to Portland in 1999 from Houston, Texas. I come from a family where we were encouraged to give back to the world – that’s part of the reason why I believe we’re alive. So in 2001, when a family member became involved at Our House, I tagged along to help out on some events and got involved that way. I started out helping with dinner in the kitchen and still help out on Thursday nights while also volunteering as a receptionist.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
I’ve always felt that when you volunteer, you end up benefitting more than the time you give. There have been many times that I’ve had a bad day and by the end of a shift, all that frustration has melted away and has turned the day into a good one. It has been great getting to know the personalities of the residents more in recent years. One of the residents has taught me a great deal about dominoes and I feel confident now that I can beat most anyone in a game except, of course, him!

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I’m an amateur genealogist and have found many surprises about my family over the years. I also like to travel and I visit Texas a lot to see family. I love getting some really good barbeque and Tex-Mex while I’m there.


Jul 27, 2017
Our House to Receive GROW Grant

Thanks to thousands of online votes, Our House will be the recipient of a GROW Grant from Advantis Credit Union. This award will be used to upgrade equipment at Esther’s Pantry and enable us to make more food available to our clients. Upgrades will include new shelving, refrigerators, freezers, and more. Thank you to everyone who voted and a big thanks to Advantis! Esther’s Pantry provides supplemental food to more than 600 clients throughout the year in a stigma-free environment.


Jul 10, 2017
Volunteer of the Month - Shirley Johnson

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!



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

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Quality of Life
Sustaining Partner