The information in this handbook is required reading prior to signing up and will take approximately one hour to complete.

All volunteers, whether it’s their first time or their hundredth time volunteering, must complete all steps of the required orientation, sign the updated waivers, and provide proof of COVID vaccination.

To sign up please:

  1. Read to the bottom of the volunteer handbook.
  2. Watch the required training videos at the bottom of this page.
  3. Click the sign-up button to go to the Volunteer Local scheduling portal.

1. Begin Orientation Here

Read all sections. Toggle sections with +/-.

Who We Serve

Blanchet House serves anyone in need of a meal—no questions asked—and will continue to do so as long as the need exists. We believe that differences in housing, substance dependency, income, physical or mental ability do not diminish the inherent dignity of every human being.

We want everyone to feel welcome and safe when they visit Blanchet House. We respect the privacy of our meal guests by not asking them personal questions that might make them uncomfortable. We meet them where they are and serve them as our guests.

The social service agencies in the Old Town-Chinatown neighborhood offer aid and support to people who may be experiencing homelessness, living with physical and mental disabilities, have addictions to or reliance on chemical substances, or are struggling with poverty and insubstantial income. Some of our meal guests may be in the midst of a mental health crisis. We always stay positive, compassionate, and supportive.

Non-Discrimination Policy

The Blanchet House does not judge, discriminate or tolerate discriminatory behavior based on race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law. This policy applies to all Blanchet House guests, program recipients, volunteers, community members, supporters, staff, and board members.

History of Blanchet House

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.

Meal Program
We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week in our Founders Cafe. (During the COVID pandemic we are serving all meals to-go from our doors.) Nutritious hot meals are compassionately served by volunteers.

All are welcome to enjoy meals at Blanchet House without judgment. No questions asked.

Clothing Program
Clean clothing, hygiene items, and sleeping essentials are offered during most meal services. New and gently used adult-sized clothing is donated by individuals and businesses. We also have a dedicated clothing service on Saturdays.

Residential Programs
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 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 animalsbeehiveswoodshop, and gardens.

Who Can Volunteer

Compassionate people who are:

Blanchet House cannot accept court-mandated volunteer hours because doing so would overwhelm our volunteer schedule and leave too little opportunity for volunteers not under a court mandate to volunteer. Blanchet House staff are not authorized to sign court-mandated verifications.

Types of Volunteer Jobs

Volunteer jobs include: 

  • Plating food in the kitchen 
  • Serving meals to guests 
  • Light cleaning and busing
  • Preparing food in the kitchen
  • Organizing and handing out clothing 
  • Pouring and serving drinks
  • Rolling forks or spoons
  • Cooking meals – professional chefs welcome 

Volunteer Shifts

Volunteer shifts are Monday-Saturday. You can choose a volunteer shift up to three months in advance.  Volunteers must be signed up to serve. Please do not bring a guest who is not also signed up. 

Meal Shifts 

Breakfast 6 – 8 a.m.

Lunch 11:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Dinner 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Guest Chef Shifts 

AM Chef Shift 9:30-12:30

PM Chef Shift  2:00-6:00

Email us at volunteer@blanchethouse.org. Food handler cards are needed.

 

Sort Clothing and Food Prep Shifts

PM Clothing Closet and Food Prep – 1:30-4:30

Wait List 

If you’re on a waitlist do not plan on serving unless we notify you. We will let you know at least 24 hours prior to the shift start. 

Groups 

Groups of 6 or fewer can sign up for a shift through VolunteerLocal. The group leader may sign up for a shift and then add people using the “Is Anyone Joining You?” feature. Include each team member’s email address and they will get a message inviting them to complete their profile and join for a shift.

For most large groups, we recommend signing up smaller teams and spreading out over multiple shifts. The nature of our work makes it difficult to accommodate groups of 20 or more. If you have a special project in mind, feel free to reach out to the Volunteer Manager: volunteer@blanchethouse.org

Earning Volunteer Hours

If you need a signed confirmation of your volunteer service hours please notify our Volunteer Manager or Morning Services Manager when you arrive for your shift.  We welcome students completing services hours for school. Please discuss any extra requirements you have with staff on arrival.

  • You must bring your paperwork with you on the day of service.
  • We cannot verify the hours after the service date.
  • Blanchet House cannot accept court-mandated volunteer hours because doing so would overwhelm our volunteer schedule and leave too little opportunity for volunteers not under a court mandate to volunteer. Blanchet House staff are not authorized to sign court-mandated verifications.

Email us at volunteer@blanchethouse.org with any questions. 

Other Ways to Volunteer

If you or a group are unable to volunteer at our facility there are many alternative volunteer options. 

2. Volunteer Dos and Don’ts

The Blanchet House of Hospitality strives to create a space that is safe and welcoming for both meal guests and volunteers.

Dos

  • Be welcoming! 
  • Say ‘Hello’ to each guest you serve. 
  • Smile. You may be the only friendly face that they encounter that day. 
  • Remember that you are representing Blanchet House. 

Did a guest ask for something? Let a staff member know. 

Don'ts

  • DO NOT take pictures of people without their verbal permission. Please respect their dignity and privacy. Please put cell phones away during the meal service. 
  • DO NOT ARGUE WITH GUESTS. If there is a disruption immediately contact a staff member. You can always offer choices. For example, “I have coffee or milk today. I don’t have juice.”
  • DO NOT TOUCH PEOPLE’S BODIES OR THEIR BELONGINGS. This includes Blanchet House residents and staff. It is difficult to know how someone might react to physical contact. Some of the people that we serve have experienced physical trauma and are sensitive to being touched.
  • DO NOT SHARE PERSONAL INFORMATION such as your address or telephone number. Share first names only. Many of our residents and guests are working on respecting appropriate boundaries. 
  • DO NOT ask residents of Blanchet House or guests about their personal lives or why they are at Blanchet House. It is their right to choose to share their stories. Many people prefer privacy. Do not friend guests or residents on social media.

We greatly appreciate your cooperation.

Trauma-Informed Service

Many guests of Blanchet House have experienced trauma and may be triggered by negative interactions or conflict. As a volunteer, you can help de-escalate situations and avoid conflict by following these guidelines.

  • Avoid saying “no.” Try offering an alternative instead like: “I’m sorry we’re out of milk right now, but we might have more tomorrow. Would you like water instead?”
  • Avoid judgmental statements, such as: “Your coat looks really ragged, would you like a new one?” Instead say, “I have coats to give out. Would you like one?”
  • Avoid being defensive. Rather than saying: “I’m just a volunteer. I’m doing the best I can.” Instead say, “I appreciate your disappointment. Is there something else I can get for you?”

Disruptions and Behavior Issues

Our guests are usually very respectful, however, but you may hear or see inappropriate language and behavior. Keep in mind that many people are suffering in inhumane conditions. Please immediately alert the Volunteer Manager or staff member if you observe anything that makes you feel unsafe.

If someone is causing a disruption it is best to:

  • Continue carrying out your job duty. Let a staff member address the issue.
  • Do not stare at or engage a guest who might be experiencing mental health or behavioral crisis. Step away if you feel unsafe.

If someone is causing disruption and you feel unsafe it is best to:

  • Move into the kitchen if a guest is acting out or if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Always follow the directions of the Volunteer Manager and staff.
  • Do not yell at our guests or try to “fix” the situation.

Dress Code

Please dress appropriately for working in a professional kitchen. Our guests and residents could react negatively to inappropriate or explicit clothing. It is best to dress conservatively. 

REQUIRED

  • COVID19 protocols require you to wear a mask. See all guidelines.
  • Close-toed shoes (NO sandals or flip-flops). 
  • Tying back of long hair. 
  • Good personal hygiene. 

NOT ALLOWED

  • Clothing that is low-cut, too revealing, too short, or excessively tight. No bare midriff or shoulders. 
  • NO explicit shirts or hats. 
  • NO violent images or hate speech.
  • NO drug or alcohol imagery. Many of our residents are in recovery and may react negatively to such imagery.

Volunteer Suspension

We value everyone who gives their time to volunteer at Blanchet House. However, we reserve the right to cancel scheduled volunteer dates when it is necessary to maintain smooth and effective operations. 

UNREGISTERED VOLUNTEERS 

We reserve the right to turn volunteers away. This will not be done lightly, and only in specific circumstances. These circumstances are: 

  • Arriving to volunteer without registering. This includes volunteers who are on the waitlist. COVID protocols require we closely monitor the number of volunteers in our facility. 
  • Groups that bring more volunteers than the agreed-upon number.  
  • Individuals under 14 years old. 

VOLUNTEER SUSPENSION 

In rare circumstances, the Volunteer Manager or Executive Director may place volunteers or groups on suspension from serving. These circumstances include, but are not limited to: 

  • Exhibiting poor or inappropriate behavior during meal services. 
  • Unwillingness to follow directions or argumentative behavior. 
  • Repeated tardiness or canceling. 
  • Non-attendance on registered dates. 

If you or your group is suspended, you or the group leader must meet with the Volunteer Manager in person to discuss reinstatement before registering for future dates. 

3. Required Training Videos

Our partner Oregon Food Bank requires all volunteers to watch the following videos.

Food Safety

Video length: 16 minutes

Civil Rights

Video length: 21 minutes

4. Register

Choose volunteer shifts using our scheduling software Volunteer Local. You will create a profile and sign up. Click the button to sign up AFTER you have:

  1. Read the handbook completely.
  2. Watched the required videos.
Volunteer Local Sign Up

Questions? Email our Volunteer Manager at volunteer@blanchethouse.org.