Portland, OR. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Because People Matter (BPM), has had to modify popular programs to meet new challenges. The nonprofit is now assembling and delivering lunches (seen above) instead of hosting weekly meals underneath the Burnside Bridge every Thursday night. The outreach effort, called Night Strike, was an opportunity for members of Portland’s homeless community to enjoy a hot meal and receive additional services such as a haircut and have their clothes/shoes replaced. The outreach effort brought together approximately 200 volunteers to provide food, clothing, toiletries, haircuts, and foot washing for over 300 guests. Now, such volunteering is not possible, because of social distancing requirements.
But this isn’t the end of the program, instead, BPM has implemented the Sunday afternoon walkabouts where they hand out lunches three times a week to COVID-sanctioned city camps. There are potentially from 120 to 180 people at a given time in these camps.
Volunteers gather materials and supplies for a Sunday walkabout.
Lesley Snyder, co-founder, and administrator explains her decision to implement these Sunday walkabouts. “We waited for all summer long and are just now implementing walkabouts again on Sunday afternoons we feel like that’s a safer time of the day for most people, but we limit it to only about eight people so…this is dramatically reduced.”
The camps have had to lower their capacity due to COVID-19, needing to separate beds in order to be six feet apart. Some have also requested safe spaces for different groups of people including but not limited to individuals who identify as LGBTQ, trans, bi-racial, people of color.
Because People Matter is partnering with the city of Portland and is also collaborating with organizations like Medical Teams International. That nonprofit had previously attended Night Strike and provided medical and dental care to guests in the camps.
To raise funds for needed programs, Because People Matter hosted a virtual gala on September 16th. However, procuring items for the fundraiser was a struggle for the nonprofit as Snyder explains. “When COVID-19 hit we just couldn’t ask local vendors who were shutting their doors and laying people off to give us things for a fundraiser in six months we didn’t even know if it was going to happen in six months.”
Volunteers help hand out lunches for Sunday walkabouts.
COVID-19 has created new challenges for BPM and according to Snyder everyone at the nonprofit continues to work harder than ever they have especially in unusual circumstances.
Snyder is also hoping to recoup some of the funds that they weren’t able to raise this year because of COVID-19 through this virtual event. This will be different from previous virtual gala’s as they won’t be auctioning instead, they are using text to give, and although they’re asking for people to register for the event anybody is welcome to join at 7 pm.
Click here to access Because People Matter’s virtual gala.
From Because People Matter website: We exist to develop and sustain relational environments that create movement within groups and individuals to demonstrate love and generosity lived out in the world. Because People Matter creates relational environments that provide Relief, Mobilization, and Transformation.
Portland, OR. Despite the challenging impact of COVID-19 the nonprofit, Fences For Fido, is still going strong. Volunteers (like the one pictured above) helped build 17 fences and shade structures as well as 30 dog houses on the Warm Springs Reservation. They also provided critical veterinary care for 40 dogs. Fences For Fido works to improves the quality of life for dogs living outdoors by building fences free of charge for families who otherwise keep their dogs on chains, tethers, and in small enclosures.
Kelly Peterson, co-founder and emeritus board member, explains why the project was a priority. “As a result of COVID-19, Indian Reservations across the country have been disproportionately impacted, both financially and physically. That’s why Fences For Fido has committed to supporting the Warm Springs Reservations, one of the hardest-hit communities within Oregon.”
Fences For Fido team working on the Warm Springs Reservation build
On October 3rd this dog got a fenced space to roam from the Fences For Fido team.
For the first two months of the pandemic, the nonprofit focused on keeping past and present families together by delivering dog and cat food. Now the organization is getting back in gear. Fences For Fido has new protocols in place for volunteers and families, such as wearing gloves, masks, and following social distancing guidelines, allowing fence builders to safely help families again.
In addition to free fence building, they also provide shade structures (in Central Oregon), warm dog houses, dog food, and critical vet care, as well as spay/neuter services. “We all might be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat,” said Peterson.
Fence builders are out in the field every weekend; their services can be found throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington in places like Olympia, Hood River, Prineville, Albany, and Newport. Residents of Oregon and Southwest Washington are welcome to apply online for services at no charge. Click here to access their application web page.
Fences For Fido volunteer helps groom a dog while their new enclosure is constructed.
In addition to delivering dog and cat food to families in need, Fences For Fido assisted in the collection of three full trucks of donated pet food and supplies to communities in need during the recent Oregon wildfires.
“Fences For Fido have been helping families and dogs in need for over a decade. We believe wholeheartedly that helping people is helping pets which is why we are so grateful to our families for the trust they place in us, to honor the love they have with their four-legged family members,” said Peterson.
Fences For Fido has been improving the quality of life for over 2,200 dogs since 2009. They average about 13 fences a month and are prepared for any kind of weather. The nonprofit also was a part of passing legislation in 2014, that limits tethering in the states of Oregon and Washington.
According to Peterson, “Through laws and leading by example, Fences For Fido will continue extending compassion to both people and their pets.”
Over the past several months, Fences For Fido has helped remove barriers for families who don’t have access to humane pet care by building a total of 27 free fences, 50 dog houses, shade structures, and provided vet care for more than 60 dogs.
From Fences For Fido website: Fences For Fido improves the quality of life for dogs living outdoors by building fences free of charge for families who keep their dogs on chains, tethers, and in small enclosures. In addition to the fence, we also provide an insulated doghouse for each dog as well as spay/neuter services and emergency veterinary care when needed.
When a dog is unchained, a transformation begins. It starts with what we call “zoomies:” The running, jumping, exuberant joy our Fidos display once unchained – many for the first time in years. That visible happiness puts smiles on the faces of our volunteers and most importantly, on the faces of our client families who through this process begin to connect with their pets in a more meaningful way.