Jerry and Patrick Quinn, a father and son team from St. Pius X Parish in Northwest Portland, have been volunteering almost daily at Blanchet House of Hospitality despite coronavirus. (Courtesy Blanchet House)
Jerry and Patrick Quinn, a father and son team from St. Pius X Parish in Northwest Portland, have been volunteering almost daily at Blanchet House of Hospitality despite coronavirus. (Courtesy Blanchet House)
" ‘I’ll take the chance to serve during this time of crisis and uncertainty.’ 
" Patrick Quinn A 2016 graduate of Jesuit High School and University of Notre Dame student who volunteers regularly with his father Jerry at Blanchet House of Hospitality
Jerry Quinn and his son Patrick can be found nearly every day in the doorway of Blanchet House of Hospitality handing out meals to people waiting in a long line stretching three city blocks.

Suddenly last month, many regular volunteers were forced to cancel because of serious health risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As people’s ability to volunteer decreased, the need for Blanchet’s free meals escalated. On March 31, staff and volunteers handed out 2,052 bagged or boxed meals — a 50% increase from 2019 — thanks to the selfless work of people like the Quinns.

Jerry, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Beaverton, has been volunteering at Blanchet House for many years starting when Patrick, class of 2016, was a student at Jesuit High School.

“Obviously we all want to be okay, but these other communities are struggling a lot more than we are right now. I’m really compelled to help more than ever before,” Jerry said. “This is an essential need. I feel extremely safe and welcomed here.”

They show up as early as 6 a.m. to scoop scrambled eggs, fruit, and muffins into to-go containers or pour coffee and milk for the breakfast service. Because the Quinn family live together during this time of physical distancing they are comfortable standing close while serving.

Blanchet House is taking precautions to continue its essential meal service while keeping everyone safe and healthy. Volunteers wear masks and gloves to protect themselves and others from catching the coronavirus. A mental health and drug counselor tends to people in line answering their questions about the pandemic and encouraging guests to keep six feet apart. It’s difficult for some to comprehend why Blanchet can no longer serve meals indoors. There have been a few dangerous and difficult encounters in the line recently. People are suffering and tensions are high. But Blanchet soldiers on.

“If not us, then who?” asked Scott Kerman, Blanchet’s executive director. “We will not abandon those depending on us for food and clothing.”

Patrick and Jerry are thankful to be able to come to serve and get out of the house.

“I was sent home from school because of the outbreak,” said Patrick, a student at the University of Notre Dame. “My dad is such an inspiration to me because he’s made it a priority in his life to come to the Blanchet House to serve. He gives what he can by serving. I’ll take the chance to serve during this time of crisis and uncertainty.”

Jerry feels the same way. “The people we’re serving are so appreciative,” he said. “The need is greater. I’m so blessed to be here at Blanchet House. Quite frankly this is the best part of my day considering the news being what it is. We can come down here and really feel like we’re making a difference.”

Learn more or contribute

BlanchetHouse.org/Donate