Brian Buckner, a former resident of Blanchet Farm in Carlton, explains his trek from homelessness and addiction to hope. (Andie Petkus/Blanchet House)
Brian Buckner, a former resident of Blanchet Farm in Carlton, explains his trek from homelessness and addiction to hope. (Andie Petkus/Blanchet House)

More than 360 gathered to support and celebrate the work of Blanchet House of Hospitality March 1.

At the sixth annual Lend a Helping Hand Brunch at the Multnomah Athletic Club, Jesuit Father Gary Smith delivered a blessing of hope and compassion. Father Smith stays two nights per week to serve residents and guests at Blanchet House, which offers free meals daily, housing, job guidance, addiction treatment and other assistance to help people rebuild their lives.

About $150,000 and counting was raised to fund Blanchet House’s meal and housing programs. In 2019, more than 300,000 meals were served to people in need and nearly 200 men were given housing.

Scott Kerman, new executive director, spoke about how meaningful serving others in the café is to him. “Our aprons signal to our meal guests that we are here to serve them,” said Kerman. “We are glad for our guests to simply enjoy their meal. We will do the work.”

Brian Buckner, who formerly lived at Blanchet Farm in Carlton, moved many to tears with his story of going from homelessness and addiction to hope — all at the farm. He told the crowd he was able to reunite with his daughters and bring them to the brunch.

Emily Harrington, board president, and her husband, former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington, announced the Harrington Health Clinic, which will be located at Blanchet House in Old Town Portland. The Harringtons, Central Catholic High School alumni, are partnering with the University of Portland School of Nursing and Volunteers of America to create the first nurse-led clinic in Oregon.

Dan Petrusich, Blanchet board member, presented the Founders Award posthumously to City Commissioner Nick Fish. Fish was instrumental in securing the current location for Blanchet House and championed the mission through construction.

“Our old building was falling apart around us,” Petrusich said. “Nick worked to secure the last $2 million needed and the site. We were able to realize our dream for a new building because of his efforts.”

The “Golden Girls” from St. Thomas More Parish in Southwest Portland brought the crowd to its feet as they were presented with awards for their monthly volunteerism. For nine years, Barbara Niedermeyer, Sue Healy, Sally Follen, and Patty Stember have served up hundreds of plates of spaghetti two times a month.

The brunch was made possible because of donors and sponsors like lead sponsor Fortis Construction, Inc. and the Ed Cauduro Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.

Learn more

BlanchetHouse.org