To offer food, shelter and aid to all those in need of a safe place to be nourished and restored. Assist the transformation of each life we touch with compassion and dignity.
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 (pronounced Blan-shāy) House is a nonprofit social services organization located in downtown Portland. We provide food, clothing, and transitional housing programs to people in need. We believe it is our responsibility to offer assistance in whatever ways that we can.
In 1952, Blanchet House was founded by a group of University of Portland students 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 are 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 our Founders Cafe. Nutritious hot meals are compassionately served to our guests by volunteers. All are welcome to enjoy meals at Blanchet House. No questions asked. Thanks to generous financial and food donors we are able to provide more than 500,000 meals a year to people without reliable access to cooked meals.
Clean clothing, hygiene items, and sleeping essentials are offered during our meal services. New and gently used adult-sized clothing is donated by individuals and businesses.
Blanchet House operates two transitional shelter programs for men struggling with addiction, unemployment, mental health, and other challenges. Blanchet House and Blanchet Farm are life renewal work programs in which all residents are required to contribute to the community by fulfilling essential roles in our operations. The guests living in the Blanchet House program in downtown Portland work in the kitchen preparing and serving food for the public. The men living at Blanchet Farm in Carlton, Oregon maintain a 62-acre farm, including animals and gardens.
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.
The origins of Blanchet House begin at Portland’s all-boys Columbia Prep High School. A group of students organized a social and service club named after the first Catholic Archbishop of Oregon, Frances Norbert Blanchet.
Motivated by the teachings of the Catholic Workers Movement, the club set out to offer food, clothing, and financial aid to those in need. The members of the Blanchet Club went on to attend the University of Portland together.
World War II brought a temporary halt to the club’s social service. At the end of WWII, the Blanchet Club regrouped and welcomed new members to join them in service. Together they again began to find ways to help the needy in their community.
At the corner of NW 4th Avenue and NW Glisan, they found their building and went to work preparing it for guests. The three-story building was currently be used as a brothel. The group rented the ground floor for their mission. Once they paid their first month’s rent of $35 they were ready to open their doors to the public. On February 11, 1952, they offered their first free hot meal. A simple offering of beans, bread, butter, and coffee.
The founders of Blanchet House include Jim O’Hanlon, Gene Feltz, Joe Moore, John Moore, Tom Moore, Dan Harrington, John Little, Hugh McGinnis, Pat Carr, Dan Christianson, Kev Collins, and Bernie Harrington.
By 1958, the group had raised money to purchase the entire building outright for $25,000. The building would now be called the Blanchet House of Hospitality. 340 NW Glisan, which still stands, had a small basement for storage, the main floor which contained the public dining room, kitchen, manager’s office, and bathrooms. The founders and their families cleaned up the upper floors to use as short-term housing units for men who, in exchange for room and board, would work in the kitchen and help serve.
Now 10 years after opening, the Blanchet House had 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.
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 space, 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.
Blanchet House of Hospitality’s (BHH) 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.
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. It’s hard to believe that Blanchet House has been solely funded by individual donations since 1952. We receive no government or archdiocese funding. A small contribution goes a long way at Blanchet House of Hospitality.