By Julie Showers
Jim Christianson and Ed O’Hanlon will receive the Al Riley Award for their life-long service to Blanchet House’s mission. The award is named for Blanchet House’s longest-serving executive director who ran the organization for nearly 40 years unpaid.
“Al kept Blanchet House alive. He was an amazing person,” recalls Ed O’Hanlon.
Jim and Ed are also amazing people who’ve helped sustain the organization. They began their friendship and volunteer service as kids tagging behind their fathers, both founders of the mission along with their schoolmates from the University of Portland. As adults, Jim a financial advisor, and Ed an accountant, volunteered to do all of the accounting for the organization for nearly 17 years.
“We met every other Friday to pay the bills and sign checks. It was just what happened on Friday mornings. It was great fun! Jim has been my best friend all my life,” Ed O’Hanlon told David Endres in a Mater Dei radio interview. “Blanchet House has always been a family affair and had Catholic values. The generosity of the Catholic community has kept it going by God’s grace.”
Blanchet House’s annual brunch brings together an extended family of supporters to celebrate and support its meal and shelter services.
“The need seems greater than ever when you look around Old Town,” says Ed, referring to the large number of tents and tarps occupied by homeless individuals.
Blanchet House of Hospitality located at NW Glisan and NW 3rd has offered free hot meals, clothing, and shelter since 1952. Need for their meal services increased 60% during the COVID-19 pandemic. For a few months they were serving up to 2,000 meals a day because other service providers temporarily halted operations.
You can help celebrate these special people from home on March 7, from 11 am – 12 pm. RSVP and sign up to attend the Lend A Helping Hand Brunch for free at www.BlanchetHouse.org/Brunch2021.