This past week, Dragonfly students went from the small towns of Klamath Falls and Ashland to the big city of Portland for a week of volunteering and sightseeing before heading home for the holiday break. Our week began with a long and snowy drive that took most of the day. We settled into our rental house in the Alberta Arts District that evening and woke up the next morning ready to begin exploring the city. Our first stop was for breakfast at Voodoo Donuts, an iconic Portland donut shop. From there we visited Powell’s Bookstore and did some shopping downtown. That evening students bonded over robots, pirates and aliens as we had fun playing games at a local nickel arcade.
Throughout the week, our entire group volunteered with nine different organizations. The first location where we volunteered was Janus Youth, an organization that provides shelter, food and clothing for homeless young adults. After learning about the services Janus provides, we folded laundry, sorted donated clothing, and cleaned closets, floors and the kitchen. The following day we volunteered at Transition Projects, another organization that provides valuable resources for Portland’s homeless population. There we sorted through boxes upon boxes of donated clothing and organized it so that it is easily accessible for the people Transition Project serves to find and pick out the clothing they need. We also volunteered for the Oregon Foodbank, where we joined approximately 75 other people who had signed up to volunteer at the same time. In just over 2 hours, we helped to repack 10,132 pounds of bulk frozen peas that had been donated by a major frozen food company! Each group repacked the peas into 2 pound portion sizes. These peas represent 8,443 meals that will be included in emergency food boxes the Oregon Food Bank provides to community members in need.
Additionally, Dragonfly students volunteered at Community Warehouse, a Portland-based furniture bank. Community members donate gently used housewares, which are then available to others to pick up and use at no charge. We were able to help them by assisting in sorting donations, cleaning their bathrooms, sweeping and dusting the warehouse and raking leaves out of the parking lot. As a larger group, we also volunteered at Avenues for Youth, Lambert House, Children’s Book Bank, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Impact NW. The students worked really hard, and we were able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. It was really gratifying to see the results of our work and to hear how much the organizations appreciated our time and efforts.
In the evenings, students took turns cooking dinner for the house, except for the last evening in town when we celebrated by going out to eat at a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant. A highlight for many of the students was the evening we met up with the other Dragonfly houses and went to see the play “Twist your Dickens” at Portland Center Stage. This comedy was hilariously well done and had most of us laughing for the entire the performance. Overall, our week in Portland was a good balance of work, rest and play and was a wonderful way to end the fall term.