Chai Thai

Chai Thai in East Portland is providing meals to Human Solutions shelters

A new partnership between two East Portland nonprofits and two East Portland restaurants is meeting multiple community needs in this unique moment when restaurants are struggling to survive due to the pandemic shutdown and emergency shelters are stretched to meet their ongoing need for warm meals.

Using $24,000 in program funds from Prosper Portland, The Rosewood Initiative is working with two small, family-owned restaurants in the Rosewood neighborhood of East Portland, Chai Thai (top photo) and Nelly’s Taqueria (bottom photo), to prepare hot meals for the residents of  Human Solutions’ two emergency shelters, Lilac Meadows for families and the Gresham Women’s Shelter. Volunteer drivers transport the food from the restaurants to both shelters, where on a typical night, about 220 people eat dinner.

Kimberly Branam, Prosper Portland executive director, said, “This is just the kind of program the community needs: one that supports POC-owned businesses and at the same time serves vulnerable people in the neighborhood. We’re glad we could act quickly in the early days of the shutdown to get this funding to Rosewood to assist local small businesses.”

Human Solutions executive director Andy Miller said, “This is how community responds in a crisis – through innovative partnerships. Prosper Portland stepped in quickly to do what they do best – supporting local small business to keep them working. The Rosewood Initiative did its part by recruiting local minority-owned restaurants it already partners with, and Human Solutions was able to relieve some of the stress on our courageous shelter teams and make sure our shelter guests had plenty of delicious food.  There is nothing more powerful than our community working in partnership for the greater good.”

The Rosewood partnership focused on two priorities: working with business owners of color, who often face greater barriers to capital, and focusing on East Portland, where restaurants depend on a clientele with less disposable income for dining out, especially right now.

Oscar Ocampo of Nelly’s Taqueria said, “Nelly’s Taqueria is really grateful to have the opportunity to work with Rosewood on such a great program to cater to the homeless community. Thanks to this we are able to keep our doors open and continue to grow. Gracias.”

Nelly's Taqueria

Nelly’s Taqueria is providing meals to Human Solutions shelters in East Portland

Tamara Holloway, manager of Human Solutions’ Lilac Meadows Family Shelter near SE 82nd & Powell Blvd., said, “Our shelter team is doing amazing frontline work right now during the pandemic. When a hot, ready-to-serve dinner is delivered by a volunteer driver from a local restaurant, our staff and shelter residents feel cared for by our community. We couldn’t be more grateful for this delicious food and all the donations we have been getting from everyone in our incredible community. Thanks to each and every one of you. We are for sure stronger together.”

The teams at Human Solutions and The Rosewood Initiative hope to grow the program by inviting the community to invest through a GoFundMe campaign where people can contribute to this win-win community effort. Click to make a contribution online.

Jenny Glass, executive director of The Rosewood Initiative, sees the program as a way to fulfill the Initiative’s mission to support the neighborhood when its community space doors are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said, “The Rosewood community in East Portland is strong and resilient, but there is no denying that the residents and businesses in this area were struggling even before COVID-19. This pandemic and the necessary economic shutdown deepens the hardships faced by communities of color, people with low incomes and neighborhoods that have been under-resourced for decades. We’re honored to play a small part in supporting local businesses owned by people of color and houseless folks in our community during this challenging time.”

Human Solutions and The Rosewood Initiative are community-based organizations working in East Multnomah County to address the root causes of poverty and build vibrant communities where everyone can thrive. The Rosewood Initiative is a place-based nonprofit that supports community-driven solutions for a healthier, more economically vibrant Rosewood neighborhood. Human Solutions is a 31-year-old community organization that develops affordable housing and operates shelters and a range of programming to ensure all community members have economic and housing security.