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Volunteer Appreciation Week is a time to celebrate the incredible people who give their time and energy to make our community a better place. We want our volunteers to know that Blanchet House’s services are only possible because of them. Learn more about a few of these special people and why they give their time to serve others. Thank you to all of our volunteers!

Volunteer Katie Hennessey talks with a resident at Blanchet House.

Volunteer Spotlight:
Katie Hennessy

Many people volunteer at Blanchet House serving in the cafe, but only one, Katie Hennessy, gives their time and friendship to men staying in the residential program. A semi-retired clinical social worker, she volunteers Tuesday mornings on the floors above the cafe where the residential program is housed. She nurtures connections with men who have sometimes lost it all.

“There seems to be something deep in me that connects with our Blanchet residents,” she reflects. “I am very comfortable here.”


Dan Pippenger volunteers to serve coffee and milk to a guest in Blanchet House's cafe.

Volunteer Spotlight:
Dan Pippenger

Meet Dan Pippenger, the Chief Aviation Officer at the Port of Portland, responsible for overseeing operations at PDX, Troutdale, and Hillsboro airports. While his professional life revolves around high-stakes decisions and intricate planning, his volunteer work offers a different kind of reward.

“I volunteer once a week,” Dan shares. “It’s changed my perspective, making me more thoughtful about what people are going through.”

Whether serving drinks or assisting with other tasks, he believes in doing whatever is needed.


Volunteer Week Appreciation Marsha Sleeth in cafe Blanchet House

Volunteer Spotlight: Marsha Sleeth

Marsha Sleeth, 74, a native Oregonian and retired landscape designer, volunteers in the café at least four shifts a week.

What makes you want to volunteer here?

I’m retired, so I have all the time in the world to do something, and this is something I enjoy doing. I like giving back to the community, and homelessness is an issue that I really care about. I’m concerned about these people. I love the people, and the program is so organized.

Why do you care about homelessness, say, more than other issues?

Because it’s just so ridiculous. There’s no reason for it. The way housing prices have gone up, there’s just such a large portion of the population that can’t afford to live. And then, of course, the mental health problems and the addiction problems just compound it.

What do you think people should know about our guests?

They can’t afford to eat. And we don’t just serve homeless people. We also serve people who have homes but don’t have enough money to feed themselves.

Have you learned anything new since being here?

Yes, how big a mental health problem homelessness is. I didn’t know that before. Last month, It was raining and cold outside, we served a girl and all she had on was a plastic blanket over her shoulders, and she had on a sleeveless top. And I think that she was schizophrenic. She could not communicate, so they couldn’t give her a jacket. It. She wouldn’t accept it, but she didn’t know what she was doing. It was heartbreaking. I don’t know how she survived out there. Statistics put it at 60 to 67 % of the population.

volunteer week girl scouts group volunteering

Ways to Volunteer and Get Involved

You can make a positive difference in the lives of your neighbors going through a hard time. Join Blanchet House in offering aid to anyone who comes to our doors by volunteering onsite or from home. There’s never been a better time than now to get involved!

Care Kits

Pack a bag with essential items like hygiene products and socks from home with your friends and family. Learn how.

Sack Lunches

Make sandwiches to fill brown bags that can be easily handed out to our meal guests for a portable lunch. Learn how.

Donate Clothing and Sleeping Essentials

Living without access to a washer and dryer makes it difficult to keep your clothes clean and maintained. Blanchet House offers adult-sized clothing, shoes, and sleeping basics daily. Learn how.


Blanchet House needs volunteers Monday-Saturday to help prepare and serve meals. Choose from one of many 1-3 hour shifts throughout the day. Sign up to serve or prepare meals onsite.

Kevin Scanlon national volunteer week in cafe

Volunteer Spotlight:
Kevin Scanlon

Kevin knows first-hand how important a free meal and welcoming space are to healing. 

“It’s about giving back a little bit because the place kept me alive for years when I ate at the old Blanchet House. Back then, I would get a job, and I’d mess it all up with drinking and drugs. Today, I’m over 12 years clean and sober.

There are no questions asked. Just come in the door. That’s important because there’s a lot of anger and shame when you’re homeless. There were a lot of years I was not interested in getting clean and sober because I felt so bad. It’s very hard once you’re homeless, to get back into being a productive person. There are a lot of setbacks. Life is not fair and we know that. Where would we be without places like this? What would happen to society?”

Jennifer Krazit national volunteer week in cafe

Volunteer Spotlight:
Jennifer Krazit

Jennifer volunteers to serve lunch every week.

“I found Blanchet House through a work volunteer day, and I liked it so much I started coming on my own. Volunteering at Blanchet has been one of the highlights of my year. My employer, VMware gives employees 40 hours of PTO each year to volunteer. Employees who complete their 40 hours of service can direct a company donation to a nonprofit of their choice. When I hit my 40 hours and I asked them to make a donation to Blanchet House. The thing I appreciate most is it allows me to connect with my local community.”

Emily Coleman National Volunteer Week

Volunteer Spotlight:
Emily Coleman

Emily gets up early to serve hot coffee and breakfast.

“I’m up early anyway and it’s a perfect thing before starting work. I really value the relationships I’ve made in the cafe. I get to have hundreds of interactions each morning with people happy to be there.

The service Blanchet House provides is so important, mostly because it’s so humanizing. It’s dehumanizing to be homeless. And the way they’re treated, and often ignored, can make them feel so invisible. Guests aren’t just going through a cafeteria line, they’re being served.”

Volunteer Appreciation Week Sadao Sasaki

Volunteer Spotlight:
Sadao Sasaki

“I have so many reasons why I want to volunteer. One is being from Japan so many people helped me here in America. I would like to give back. When I volunteer I feel it gives me instant meaning to my life. If I had the brain for it I would be a doctor and help people. This is something everyone can do. This is the best investment of my time. I feel happy to be here. You see the direct result of what you’re doing.

I found the Blanchet House to be not political or religious. No ideology which is why I like it. Eating here is a communal experience. When people say thank you it really has a lasting impact on me and means a lot. Blanchet House does so much for the community. There are so many vulnerable people and they don’t know where to turn. None of us are immune to becoming homeless. For some people, they are just one paycheck or just one hospital bill away from becoming houseless. It is heartbreaking. Volunteer even once and you will have a great experience. You will never regret any time that you spend here.”

Read about more of our special volunteers. Of course, there are so many more!

Sign up for Blanchet House news.