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Santa Clara University alumnus Scott Kerman was honored with the Ignatian Award for humanitarian service.

By Julie Showers

Scott Kerman, the Executive Director of Blanchet House of Hospitality and an alumnus of Santa Clara University (SCU) is being honored with the university’s prestigious Ignatian Award. He was chosen because of his outstanding humanitarian efforts, particularly during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a deep history of SCU alumni involved in creating and carrying out the mission of Blanchet House, which is to alleviate suffering and restore dignity to people in poverty. Co-founders Eugene “Gene” Feltz, James “Jim” O’Hanlon Sr., and Thomas Moore all earned law degrees from SCU. Also, revered spiritual figure Father Gary Smith, who volunteers in Blanchet’s free cafe weekly, received his undergraduate degree from SCU. Kerman’s dedication echoes the values of compassion and service instilled by their alma mater.

Scott Kerman Volunteering_Blanchet House

Scott Kerman serves meals in Blanchet House’s cafe, 2019.

Kerman’s leadership didn’t go unnoticed, especially during the pandemic. While many organizations were closing their doors, he found innovative ways to meet the increased need for food and basic services. From creating sack lunch and hygiene care kit initiatives to shifting to serving to-go meals, he ensured that Blanchet House remained a source of hope for those facing housing and food insecurity.

Under Kerman’s stewardship, the county, city, and community relied on Blanchet House to fill a growing gap in aid. It served a staggering average of 2,000 free meals per day—double what they were serving pre-COVID. Many people found themselves in need of food assistance for the first time in their lives. Recognizing the severity of the circumstances, Kerman and the team expanded services beyond meals to address additional needs, including providing clean clothing, vaccinations, and peer support.

“Scott Kerman has worked tirelessly over this past year, putting aside his own concerns to serve the complex, burgeoning needs of the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic. When volunteer groups had to be reduced to ensure the safety of everyone in the building, Blanchet House stayed open. Arriving soon after 5 a.m., Scott worked six days a week to navigate the constantly changing safety issues and growing numbers of those in need. While most of us were watching the world through our screens, Scott was literally in the streets, feeding Portland’s hungry and doing the work of the Gospel,” wrote fellow alumnus Liz Malone Kelley, who nominated Kerman for the Ignatian award.

In addition to his hands-on involvement in serving marginalized communities, Kerman leads Blanchet House to contribute significantly to advancing awareness and understanding of complex social issues related to homelessness and poverty. Through his blog, “Serving at the Margins,” Kerman advocates for compassionate and effective solutions to end suffering.

Kerman made it a priority to implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training for the staff, aiming to ensure their approach to service embraces inclusivity and respect for individuals’ diverse backgrounds and identities.

As Kerman officially accepts the Ignatian Award on April 13, in Santa Clara, California, it will not only recognize his leadership and service but will acknowledge his contributions to fostering a more kind and equitable society. His dedication to creating lasting change is a reminder to us all of the transformative impact that one individual can have on the lives of others.

If you’d like to make a gift in recognition of this award, Scott would like donations to go to support Blanchet House and Farm’s Resident Welcome & Well Wishes Fund. This fund provides residents of Blanchet’s transitional housing programs with entrance and exit clothing and essentials to assist them in success in the program and when they leave. You can donate at HERE.

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