Blanchet (pronounced Blan-shāy) House is a nonprofit social services organization located in Old Town Portland. We make a difference, one relationship at a time, through food, clothing, and supportive housing programs. We serve anyone who comes to our doors without judgment because we believe everyone deserves dignity, hope, and community.
Our Charitable Philosophy
In 1952, Blanchet House was founded by a group of University of Portland alumni as a “House of Hospitality” in the model of those established by the Catholic Worker Movement. Although we are not affiliated with any religious organization, the founders were rooted in the Catholic community. Blanchet House’s mission derives from Catholic social teaching principles, including honoring the dignity of every person, offering aid to the poor and vulnerable, and solidarity. Our board and staff include persons of various faiths, and we do not proselytize to our clients or guests.
We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week in the Founders Cafe. Nutritious hot meals are compassionately served by volunteers. All are welcome to enjoy meals at Blanchet House without judgment. No questions asked.
Clean clothing, hygiene items, and sleeping essentials are offered during most meal services when available. New and gently used adult-sized clothing is donated by individuals and businesses.
Blanchet House operates two residential programs for men struggling with addiction, unemployment, mental health, housing, or other challenges. Blanchet House and Blanchet Farm are life renewal work programs in which all residents contribute to the community by fulfilling duties in support of operations.
The men living in the Blanchet House program in downtown Portland assist in the kitchen preparing and serving food. The residents staying at Blanchet Farm in Carlton, Oregon maintain the 62-acre farm, including caring for animals, beehives, a woodshop, and gardens.
The origins of Blanchet House begin at the University of Portland (UP). At UP, the co-founders joined a social and service club named after the first Archbishop of Oregon, Frances Norbert Blanchet. Motivated by the charitable works of the Catholic Workers Movement, the Blanchet Club set out to offer food, clothing, and aid to those in need in Portland’s Old Town.
World War II brought a temporary halt to the club’s social works as the men joined the armed services. At the end of WWII, the Blanchet Club regrouped and welcomed new members to join them. Together they again began to find ways to help the needy in their community but this time in a bigger way.
Under the direction of Fr. Francis Kennard, the Blanchet Club members searched for a permanent location in Portland’s Old Town to carry out their mission and make a meaningful impact.
At the corner of NW 4th Ave. and NW Glisan St., the founders rented the ground floor of a three-story building for $35 a month.
On February 11, 1952, Blanchet House of Hospitality offered its first free hot meal to a line of 200 men. A simple offering of beans, bread, butter, and coffee.
By 1958, the group raised enough money to purchase the entire building for $25,000. The founders and their families cleaned up the upper floors to use as short-term shelter for men who, in exchange for room and board, would work in the kitchen and help serve.
10 years after opening, Blanchet House increased the number of meals it could serve and the breadth of services it could provide. Thanks impart to the addition of full-time Executive Director, Al Riley, who served for 38 years without pay.
Blanchet House had become an important institution in the social fabric of Portland. Word on the street spread to those in need.
The founders learned that there was a need for a place outside of Portland where men struggling with addiction could escape the temptations of the city. They raised money to purchase a 40-acre prune farm in Yamhill County. Over the years, with additional land purchases and land gifts the farm has increased to 62 acres. They built dormitories, public spaces, barns for animals, and a woodshop. There is now room for 22 men to live within a program designed to facilitate recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.
After nearly 10 years of planning and fundraising, all the while serving those in need, the Blanchet House board was able to build and open a new building. LEED platinum certified, the new and improved Blanchet House increased our capacity to feed and house those in need. We feed nearly 1,000 people a day and house up to 50 men.
We have served over 16 million meals to those in need and transitioned 10,000 men back into society. Blanchet House is recognized as being an exceptional model for providing holistic pathways from homelessness to lasting self-sufficiency. We serve all people with dignity, compassion, and without judgment.
Our Commitment to Equity
Blanchet House’s mission and core values embody our commitment to serving anyone in need with dignity and without discrimination or judgment. We recognize that our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities are disproportionately impacted by socio-economic injustice.
We recognize that this injustice can lead to housing and food insecurity, creating the need for our programs. These BHH services, then, must exemplify our commitment to equity, ensuring that those most affected by an injustice have the necessary resources to live freely and fairly. BHH’s founding ideals prioritize each individual’s needs in order to meet all people we serve where they are.
Our commitment to advancing equity and justice in our community further inspires the BHH staff, volunteers, and board of directors to:
- Be intentional in our work toward equity and inclusion.
- Work toward a deeper understanding of the historical, systemic, and contemporary structures and actions of racism and other forms of discrimination, prejudice, and bias.
- Achieve a great understanding of and work toward correcting our own implicit biases.
- Continually identify inequities, eliminate barriers, and innovate our practices to better serve our clients’ experiences and needs.
- Staying engaged in the pursuit of equity and consistently seeking to repair and improve our understanding, practices, and services where we fall short.
Our Core Values
Hospitality We welcome everyone into our home with kindness and compassion.
Dignity We respect the inherent value of everyone inside and outside our organization.
Hope We foster optimism and the belief that good things can happen when we work together.
Integrity We are honest, reliable, and trustworthy.
Community We build relationships and strive toward common goals.
Authenticity We honor everyone’s right to be their unique self.
Blanchet House’s three-year strategic plan was created through an inclusive process involving the Board of Directors, guests served, volunteers, community partners and staff. The goals and strategies reflect an integrated approach to fulfilling our mission as Blanchet House moves forward and continues to meet the needs of many.
Look What We Found
Blanchet House co-founder, Jim O’Hanlon Sr., discovered this vintage coin collection can in his basement. In the 1960s, Blanchet House staff put these cans in Portland area bars to raise money to feed and house those in need. Blanchet House has been solely funded by individual donations, business sponsorships, and grants since 1952. We receive no government or archdiocese funding for programs. A small contribution goes a long way at Blanchet House of Hospitality.