Our House News

Oct 01, 2018
Volunteer of the Month - Robin Castro

Board Member & Front Desk Volunteer
Volunteering since 2016

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
Like many folks, I lost many friends to AIDS and I wanted to stay involved in the causes that matter to the LGBTQ community. Several friends stayed at Our House and were treated so well that I wanted to help out where I could.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
Getting to know our clients is always fun, but I also love interacting with all the volunteers at Our House, supporting one another just comes natural for me.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I’m retired and like to spend time with friends.  My husband, John Halseth, is also on the board of Our House, so we stay pretty involved here. I am also on the board of Immigration Counseling Services and an avid Timbers fan.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I use to have a British accent when I was in 1st grade in Mountain Home, Idaho. (Having just moved there from living in England for years.) Oh, and I’m Roswellian!


Sep 01, 2018
Volunteers of the Month - Michael Mase and Alan Winders

This month we’re happy to present a double whammy for our Volunteer of the Month section.  We were lucky enough to snag two wonderful people into volunteering, and since they’re a couple – it’s a twofer! Michael Mase has been our Tuesday lunch cook for 14 years, and his husband Alan Winders took over management of our therapeutic garden over four years ago.

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?

Michael:  (former Executive Director) Wayne Miya did not give me a choice. He felt I was having too much fun checking out restaurants around Portland.  My beginning at Our House coincided with my end of teaching abroad and my knee replacement.  After I recovered, Wayne decided I needed something to do (I didn’t realize I was doing nothing), and got me to start at Our House.  Cooking came fairly naturally as most of the men in my family were decent cooks and dinner was a real family forum that often went on for 2-3 hours.

Alan: We have been involved with Our House for many years as donors and hosts of several Dinners at My House for Our House.  Mike had also been a volunteer in the kitchen for 10 years when I retired four years ago.  He urged me to volunteer in the garden, as there was an opening and gardening is a favorite pastime of mine. (To be honest, I think the prospect of 24/7 with me upon retirement struck a chord of dread somewhere deep down.  It should be noted that we volunteer on different days!)

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?

Michael:  Meeting other volunteers.  Most of them are pretty interesting people.  I figure that there is a common characteristic about people who do volunteer because there is an easy compatibility among us.

Alan:  I enjoy interacting with the residents who choose to participate in the garden, as well as those who just come out to kibitz.  And there have been several co-volunteers in the garden these last years, who have helped to make my volunteer days something to look forward to.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?

Michael:  At my age, getting out of bed is a major project!  I have also worked with the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.  No one complains about the food there!

Alan: We enjoy the seasons at Center Stage and ART, as well as the Symphony and Chamber Music NW in the summer. I like to hike and exercise and try to keep moving most days.

What is something about you that would surprise others?

Michael: I cannot think of anything very surprising.  I’ve led a fairly constant life.  Not sure how much longer this old body will continue, but I can still take a five mile hike so I figure I can still handle a lunch shift.

Alan:  When I retired, I took up watercolor after a 25-year hiatus.  I take classes and participate in a critique group every month.  It’s been a lot of fun and I’m getting respectable results, which is gratifying.



Jul 01, 2018
Volunteer of the Month - Ian Chaparro

Our House

What drew you to Volunteer at Our House?
A client of mine actually mentioned Our House to me after he and I were discussing possible volunteering opportunities in the community. After hearing a little about Our House, and checking out the website I was compelled to fill out a volunteer application. I had never heard of such an amazing place and I knew I wanted to be a part of the greatness going on here.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
This one is tough for me to answer, there are so many great things about volunteering! One thing that really touches me when it comes to volunteering at Our House is when you realize the residents are finally warming up to you. The little things like them remembering your name, showing appreciation or telling you about their past memories really makes the whole volunteer experience worthwhile. I guess what I’m really trying to say is the level of trust and confidence you build with the residents and fellow volunteers, they are what really keep me going and make volunteering that much better.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
Currently I am licensed as a Massage Therapist in the state of Oregon. I also do caregiving for an amazing Non-Profit Organization named RISE, which provides support for adults and adolescents with developmental disabilities. I am very fortunate to be able to be making a living doing the things I love.  It doesn’t even feel like I “work” as I’m always enjoying myself. Also on my free time I love doing yoga, working out, being in nature, music, dance, Eastern Philosophy… the list goes on and on.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I haven’t always been this happy go lucky type of a person. I feel like the happiest people are some of the strongest soldiers who have been put to the test with some curve balls being thrown to them in life. I used to be a very angry and unpleasant person, and I believe the passing of a very close family member of mine really opened up my eyes to how beautiful life is.  It’s important to take advantage of the time we have here, fulfilling your dreams! With this mentality my life just keeps getting better and better.. and now I’m here honored to be awarded with such a privilege to be able to call myself “Our House Volunteer of the Month of July 2018”.


Jun 01, 2018
Volunteer of the Month - Dean McCleeary

Esther’s Pantry & Tod’s Corner
Volunteer since March 2017

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?

I began volunteering many years ago in San Jose for Necessities and Move, I was the volunteer coordinator, practical support and worked the hotlines.  When I moved to Portland after being diagnosed with HIV there were a few people from Partnership Project who told me about an organization similar to Necessities and Moves. I got involved with Our House, but then as life goes needed to move. When coming back this time to Portland, I got involved again with Our House and started to volunteer at Esther’s Pantry & Tod’s Corner. Its been so rewarding to help people in the HIV community.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?

Some of my favorite aspects of volunteering is making sure clients and their families are treated with dignity and the respect that everyone deserves. Hearing how grateful the clients are when we help them, is its own reward. A hug and a smile can go a long way in helping people.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?

I work for a property management company that keeps me pretty busy, but I really enjoy spending time with my husband Kris, and our furry daughters our dog Penny, and our cat Ui.


May 08, 2018
Meet our new Deputy Director

Our House is pleased to announce the hiring of Lisa Watson (she/her/hers) as our new Deputy Director. Lisa is a native Oregonian and has lived in Portland for over 30 years. She is well-known and respected throughout our community for her intelligence, experience, caring spirit, warm personality, and dedication to improving the lives of others.

Her previous experience includes time at Kaiser Permanente in the Professional Development department, owner and operator of Cupcake Jones for over a decade, and most recently she worked at the Latino Network as the Director of Development and Communications. Lisa earned her Bachelors in Sociology from Portland State University.

Lisa currently serves on the Wells Fargo Advisory Board, City Club of Portland Board of Governors, Tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and was the most recent Co-Chair of the Our House Annual Gala.

Please join us in welcoming Lisa. She can be reached at 503-595-6126 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


May 01, 2018
Volunteer of the Month - Ed Cunningham

Dinner Cook
Volunteer since March 2015

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
I began volunteering many years ago by covering the breakfast shift on Saturday mornings when friends Kathleen and Nora were out of town. I love to cook, so it was easy for me to make a contribution by cooking for others.

My original connection with OHOP was through my husband Jeff Fisher who did design work for Our House, and Brook Hunter who was the Development Director many moons ago.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
Cooking is my creative outlet, so volunteering as a cook is a way for me to be creative while supporting others. It’s a win-win.

Those of us who volunteer as cooks are SPOILED. I really appreciate all of the support from the staff and volunteers who enable me to show up and do what I do best. No shopping needed, and there’s always someone to help serve and clean up. I feel very lucky to be connected with this group, and have made some good friends at Our House.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I manage a law firm (aka herd cats). I work with great people, so while it’s stressful at times, I still enjoy what I do.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I’m more of an introvert than people think. I’m the sort of person who is most comfortable in the corner, watching other people interact.


Mar 01, 2018
Volunteer of the Month - Cole Miner

Tod’s Corner & Esther’s Pantry
Volunteer since November 2016

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
After being a client for several years and knowing its powerful affect first hand, I took the opportunity to give back and really fall in love with volunteering for Our House.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
I really love interacting with the community in a service aspect and connecting clients with items they need and will find comfort in using in their lives. Being able to volunteers at Esther’s and Tod’s is my biggest source of pride in my life right now.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
Outside of volunteering, I enjoy writing fairy tales, and other various art forms. I continue to work with people in sex education with a focus on kink & leather. I also enjoy watching movies and shows, as well as staying in shape by hiking and working out with my boyfriend.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I tend to leave a lot on the table, but most people are surprised to hear that I have several gold medals in running, including one from the Chicago Gay Games.



Feb 01, 2018
Volunteer of the Month - Jo Hamilton

Lunch cook
Volunteer since April of 2004

What drew you to volunteer at Our House?
I had been through a hard time in 2003, dealing with illness back in the UK, so I made a pact with myself that if everything worked out and I made it back to Portland, I would do something to give back to others.  My goal was to try to repay the good things that had happened to me.  I had seen a mention one time of Our House on OPB and made a note of it, so as soon as I was back and settled with a job and a place to live, I called and made an appointment with Kathryn, which was almost 14 years ago now.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
I really love cooking for people and making the residents happy and healthy with food.

What do you do other than your volunteer gig?
I’m a full-time artist, working with crocheted yarn, and I’ve made a couple of portraits of Our House residents and one volunteer so far.  I plan to keep working on this as a continuing series, along with my other art.  I also love gardening and have been working over the last couple of years on landscaping my (formerly empty) yard from scratch.

What is something about you that would surprise others?
I am ambidextrous:  I write, draw and paint left-handed, and crochet right-handed.



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

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Quality of Life
Sustaining Partner