Sisters Of The Road was born in 1979, when an anonymous person used chalk to draw a circle containing three Xs—the hobo symbol for good food and hospitality—on the sidewalk in front of the organization's new restaurant in the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood. The founders paid for the space with $10 and bartered for the rent.
Today, visitors who can't afford the typical $1.25 price tag for a meal at the café also can barter work in exchange for their food—much of which is donated by local grocery stores. First-time customers and those who cannot pay or work for their meals get their food for free. Last year, the café served more than 39,000 meals, 3,500 of which were given gratis to families, people with disabilities, and first-time customers. Others worked a total of more than 10,000 hours to pay for their tabs. In addition to operating the restaurant, Sisters Of The Road has published a book and video on homelessness and sponsored an annual conference on economic human rights and nonviolence.
An equine veterinarian founded Sound Equine Options (SEO) in 2009 after witnessing the plight of horses whose owners had succumbed to financial crises. Without the funding to provide them with adequate care, owners were forced to watch horses languish, and many could not find adequate resources for the animals. Sound Equine Options filled this void by strengthening the safety net for horses in need through a variety of programs. The Emergency Veterinary Care Fund helps reduce immediate suffering with the help of a local veterinarian, and the Rescue Blankets program distributes waterproof blankets to keep horses warm during the winter. SEO also supports equine rescues that make sure neglected horses have shelter.
For more than a decade, Kinship House has nurtured children and families with outpatient mental-health services during the transition through foster care and adoption. After being referred by regional caseworkers and county offices, children experiencing difficulties in their new homes undergo a series of timely counseling and education sessions intended to soften the stress of a rapidly changing home life. With the help of the organization’s expert clinicians, who take a one-on-one, personalized approach to each case, 98% of the children Kinship House serves are able to successfully transition into their new families. More than 280 children and families receive outpatient mental-health services at Kinship House every year, creating lasting familial bonds and future stability.
One of PYB's apprenticeship programs trains young adults ages 17–24 in green residential construction, providing hands-on experience and a path to an emerging vocation. During the course of a year of training, students build up to four affordable, energy-efficient homes that will be sold to low-income families. Trainees glean valuable experience with all aspects of the construction process, including pouring foundations, framing walls and roofs, and finishing interiors. Part of PYB's comprehensive support includes providing construction tools and other necessary equipment to students who cannot afford to purchase them.
Street Roots lends the homeless community a voice, showcasing contributors' original stories, poems, and artwork. Through its publication, more than 300 homeless and low-income vendors are given the chance to earn a daily income and improve their self-sufficiency. Each newspaper sells for $1, with the individual vendor keeping $0.75 of each dollar earned. Vendors traverse the Portland area, providing them greater chances to sell their stock and exposing more readers to the alternative newspaper. To help vendors carry their stock, Street Roots provides cloth handle bags to each individual, making transportation easier and keeping the newspapers in better condition for public sale.
Classes take place at the institute's national center. You can buy two Groupons to take two different classes. Some classes are Groupon exclusive, not only ensuring that the class size will be small, but also that your fellow pupils will be extremely attractive, very cool people. There are 50 spaces available for each one, so be sure to register early for your desired class.