“I wondered why somebody didn’t do something. Then I realized, I am somebody.” – Author Unknown
The holiday season is a time to gather with friends and family, share gifts and meals and enjoy the winter festivities. Many of us favor this time of year and the spirit it brings. However there are many people who are struggling and need help. Their focus can’t be on festivities or celebration as they are desperate for shelter, clothing…and a chance at a new beginning.
This year, Honest training will be holding a clothing (underwear/sock) drive during our Honest Holiday Happy Hour on December 9th (5-7pm) so that we can give back to the people in the community that need help. This drive will be held for Transition Projects, as we have joined forces with the lovely Roma Peyser (remember when she was an Honest Community Standout?) who is their Director of Development.
I recently met with Roma at Transition Projects’ headquarters to learn more about their incredible organization.
Tell me about Transition Projects (TP) and how it all started?
Transition Projects is a leader in transitioning people experiencing homelessness into housing in the city of Portland, and Multnomah County, Oregon. Founded in 1969, Transition Projects is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency and operates and manages seven unique locations and places hundreds of people into housing each year throughout the Metropolitan area. Transition Projects offers programs, resources and tools to individuals through access to social services including case management, shelter, basic needs, support services, mentorship, and housing. Currently, Transition Projects has a staff of over 225, and annually serves nearly 10,000 people. (Learn more)
What is one (or a couple) of your favorite success stories of people TP has helped?
A couple (Julianne & Dominick) who had been staying in Transition Projects’ couples shelters over the past year connected with one of our case managers. Together they worked on a program to get them ready for an apartment and they worked together to find housing. They just got into their apartment in mid-November. They were the featured guest speakers at the opening of the Willamette Center (a new shelter for women in couples and single women) in mid-November and at the opening stated that Transition Projects, their case manager and the help they received saved their lives.
I work closely with three of our staff (DeWanna, Jeff and Roberto) who came to Transition Projects for services and shelter when they were experiencing homelessness. All three worked hard to get back into housing, went through our Mentor Program and upon graduation were hired by the agency. DeWanna now manages the Mentor Program, Jeff is the manager of the Hansen Shelter, the largest in Oregon, sheltering 200 people, and Roberto was hand-picked to be a part of the inaugural Mobile Engagement Team that began this summer and does outreach on the streets offering support, referrals and much more.
What does it mean to you to be a part of an organization like TP?
I am humbled every day by the work done by my colleagues at Transition Projects. I am privileged to observe our staff working one-on-one to transition individuals off the street into shelter and housing, and the success is tremendous. It is not easy work and homelessness continues to grow, however, I experience first-hand the movement our agency makes towards helping those experiencing homelessness.
How can the community help support TP?
Homelessness may seem overwhelming and often people ask how can I make a difference as just one person. There are so many things the community can do that make a huge difference. Here are just a few examples:
- We have individuals and groups that come to Transition Projects for a one-time project, or others come once a month to help with the sorting and organizing of clothing that goes directly into our Clothing Room. Every day the Clothing Room opens in our Day Center to individuals experiencing homelessness that need basic clothing and shoes to stay warm and dry while living on the streets.
- We have Meal Provider Program and you can prepare sack lunches for our emergency shelters, or hot meals for our traditional shelters. Some groups have been providing meals (creating the menu, shopping, cooking and serving) for 10-30 years. It’s fun and a great way to bond with family, friends, colleagues, etc…
- We also have computer labs, a barber shop and a reception desk at our main building that are great volunteer opportunities.
- And, last but certainly not least people can donate new or gently used clothing, underwear, socks and shoes/boots which are always needed. A more detailed wish list is on our website as well as the opportunity to donate money which supports highly impactful programming like our Mentor Program and Mobile Engagement.
Thank you for everything you do Roma! The world needs more people like you.
Bring new underwear and socks to our Honest Holiday Happy Hour this Friday, Dec. 9th (5-7pm) to help support this wonderful organization. We hope to see you all there!