Joe Weston
Joe Weston
Joe Weston, Portland’s own real estate mogul, is a man bigger than life. Back in 1995, Weston was honored as the St. Francis Dining Hall volunteer of the year. The Southeast Portland facility was then a St. Vincent de Paul agency. Weston had served food weekly at the dining hall for 10 years.

He held about $250 million in real estate at the time.

Since then Weston has been methodically transferring assets to the Joseph E. Weston Foundation, ensuring that the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other Catholic non-profits will be supported long into the future. The foundation’s funds go to improve the lives of disadvantaged children, seniors, the disabled and homeless individuals in Portland and beyond, typically through Catholic organizations.

Veronica Kennedy, conference liaison at the Portland Council of the St. Vincent de Paul, began talking with Weston in 2003. A longtime volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul, she’d been on staff for less than a year when he called to ask her about which conferences needed help.

“He said, ‘It’s that time of year again,’” Kennedy remembers.

She sent him a list of 20 conferences that were struggling to make ends meet.

“He helped all 20,” Kennedy says. “I was blown away by his generosity.”

In 2005, some of the families that Hurricane Katrina left homeless landed in Portland.

“How are they going to be helped?” Weston asked Kennedy.

“We connect them with the St. Vincent de Paul Society conference closest to them,” she said.

That time, Weston asked for a list of all the conferences, 52 at the time.

He helped 46 of them.

PLEASE SAVE ROOM FOR A QUOTE FROM JOE, ALTHOUGH I’M NOT ALL THAT SURE IT WILL COME. PLEASE SAVE ROOM FOR A QUOTE FROM JOE, ALTHOUGH I’M NOT ALL THAT SURE IT WILL COME. PLEASE SAVE ROOM FOR A QUOTE FROM JOE, ALTHOUGH I’M NOT ALL THAT SURE IT WILL COME.

As the years went by, Kennedy’s appreciation for Weston deepened. “I knew his heart was with helping those who could not help themselves,” she says. “For Joe, it’s about knowing that he’s helping people stay in their homes, helping them keep the lights on, especially when there are children and seniors involved.”

Weston’s family struggled to make ends meet when he was young. Kennedy believes that made his heart grow. Weston, an All Saints School alum who graduated with the Central Catholic High School class of 1956, has credited the values of hard work and compassion that his parents instilled in him and his two brothers.

In 2001, Weston told the Catholic Sentinel that he felt an obligation to give, in part to be an example to others.

Weston doesn’t just give money to St. Vincent de Paul conferences. He carefully monitors the reports that Kennedy sends him, ensuring that his contributions go to the conferences that help the most people.

Brant Blodgett, president of the St. Agatha Parish Conference since 2006, also knows Weston is passionate about the society’s work. Blodgett discovered that at an Oregon State University dinner. Weston, an OSU alum, wasn’t much interested in talking about football but loved discussing tactics for helping conferences meet challenges.

Blodgett, of course, knows firsthand of Weston’s support for St. Vincent de Paul conferences. “He’s very generous,” says Blodgett. “[Weston] gives us a little bit more almost every year. It covers almost all the expenses associated with rent and utility assistance for the year.”

“He really believes in the work we do,” says Kennedy.