Supporting Literacy in Africa During COVID-19 Getting Easier

Supporting Literacy in Africa During COVID-19 Getting Easier

African Library Project establishes partnerships with African-based organizations that specialize in education, library, or community development. The partners must be capable of supporting the development of 30-60 libraries per year.

African Library Project works in English-speaking African countries that meet the organization’s criteria for sustainable library development. The nonprofit looks for countries that have a significant need for books and feature political stability, reliable transport of books to destinations, and a network of local organizations capable of organizing books into real, working libraries.

Partners and librarians in Africa unloading donated books. The African Library Project pays close attention to a recipient’s ability to sustain a working library.

Giving children access to books has become urgent because, according to a recent study, separation from the classroom as a part of global attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19 is negatively affecting their developing reading skills. The UN reports a significant decline in literacy and reading ability across the globe.

While all non-profit organizations have dedicated staff that work hard to affect change, most non-profits rely on volunteers. The months of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic have taken their toll on all of us.  Many remember all the canceled activities and suspended obligations from March of 2020; the wondering in April and May of how long it was all going to last.  Volunteer programs were not immune to the confusion of constantly shifting guidelines, nor the concerns for safe and healthy conditions.  A report released by VolunteerMatch found that during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, greater than 50% of non-profit organizations were experiencing heavy cancellations from their volunteers.  Now that many states are re-opening and attempting to return to a semblance of normalcy, a lot of us still feel trepidation at the idea of entering back into public life. Here‘s a little “How To” courtesy of the African Library Project on how you can volunteer to support children’s literacy, re-engage with your local community, and stay safe while doing it.  The African Library Project’s online Resource Center features everything you need to help build a library in Africa.  It includes fundraising ideas, book drive guidelines, marketing, and outreach tips, quality standards for donated books, and how to pack and ship your completed library.

Below is an example of a poster:

African Library Project advertisement for the 2021 Summer Book Drive volunteer event.

About The African Library Project:

The African Library Project was founded in 2005 by Chris Bradshaw and her family from Portola Valley, California. While visiting remote villages in Lesotho, a small mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa, Chris was inspired to work toward ending the cycle of poverty and illiteracy when she found out that there was only one public library in the country. She realized the simple act of establishing libraries within schools would have a profound effect on communities as a whole.

We are proud to partner with capable and hardworking organizations and individuals who are dedicated to promoting literacy and library development in Africa. In the United States, volunteers organize book drives and raise funds to ship the books overseas. Once those books are gathered and mailed, the African Library Project relies on a network of dedicated partners within Africa to get them to each community – no matter how far.  In addition to selecting and vetting each library recipient, our trusted partners provide training on how to set up and run a library in a rural community. They also follow up to evaluate the use of our libraries and encourage good library practices. The African Library Project’s goal is to make sure our libraries remain active and continue to enrich those who need them the most.

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Pandemic Causes Friends of Trees to Pivot

Pandemic Causes Friends of Trees to Pivot

Portland, OR. Friends of Trees is an Oregon-based organization that plants trees around the Portland-metro area, Salem, and other parts of the state. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers have had to shift how they work to make sure it’s safe for everyone. Pivots include only carpooling with people in the same household and wearing masks during an entire volunteer entire.

Photo courtesy to FriendsOfTrees Instagram.

Organizers also request no more than 25 people per shift in the Portland area while in places like Eugene, a crew can include up to 50 people. Currently, Friends of Trees requires volunteers to sign up on its website and sign the waiver online instead of in person.

To best stay in touch with Friends of Trees, follow the nonprofit’s social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages at friendsoftrees.

Here’s a list of Frequently Asked Questions from Friends of Trees:

What should I bring to a planting? What about my group? Can you verify my hours? And more!

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Friends of Trees!  Friends of Trees strives to make your experience safe, fun, and fulfilling. Below are common volunteer questions as well as detailed information on safety measures we are taking during this era of Covid-19. Click on the question to view the answer.  Thank you for considering volunteering with Friends of Trees!

Click on any question for the answer!

Contact Friends of Trees Volunteer & Outreach Staff

Hmm…don’t see your question? No worries–we are still here to help you!  You can reach Jenny Bedell-Stiles, Pablo Brito, and Carey Aroonsuck in the Volunteer & Outreach Program at [email protected] or call our volunteer hotline: 503-595-0213. We’re here to help make your volunteer experience a good one!

Jenny Bedell-Stiles
Volunteer & Outreach Program Manager [email protected]

Pablo Brito
Volunteer & Outreach Program Specialist [email protected]

Carey Aroonsuck
Volunteer & Operations Administrator [email protected]

Portland Parks & Recreation Announces Summer Offerings

Portland Parks & Recreation Announces Summer Offerings

Portland, OR. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is restoring much of its summer programming in 2021 with resources from the Parks Local Option Levy which passed in November of 2020. Click here for an interactive map to find a park.

All seven outdoor public pools and five indoor pools will open on Tuesday, June 22nd. Additionally, Free Lunch + Play will be off and running. It supports families by offering nutritious meals and recreational activities during the summer recess. Free Lunch + Play runs from June 21st through August 20th. Click here for a link to that program.

During the school year, 57% of young Portlanders qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Without school lunches, summer becomes the time when nearly 50,000 Portland children face hunger daily.

Free Lunch + Play offers accessible meal service and engaging activities for kids age 18 and under.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the summer will still look a bit different. In summer 2021, Portland Parks & Recreation’s primary goal is to keep our community healthy and to protect the public from the spread of COVID-19. PP&R designed outdoor summer programming to meet public health guidance and to be flexible as conditions change. Due to public health guidance, some PP&R sites and programs may need to operate at reduced capacity or change locations.

Below are links to the many programs:

Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation (AIR)
Offering camps and activities specially designed for children, teens, and adults who live with disabilities.

Arts classes and camps
Multnomah Arts Center will offer outdoor camps and virtual classes. Community Music Center will offer outdoor classes at Kenilworth Park and virtual classes.

Fitness in the Park PP&R has ten parks (twice the amount of last year!) featuring outdoor fitness programs such as yoga, exercise, and Zumba classes.

Free Lunch + Play
Free nutritious meals for youth ages 1-18. Plus free, drop-in activities and special events including art and music activities, pop-up performances, book/reading events, sports, games, and more. No registration required.

Pop-up Performances
Summer Free For All will present small, surprise, “pop-up” performances by local artists at Free Lunch + Play sites and other parks around the city.

Interactive Fountains and Splash Pads
Interactive fountains are open during park hours starting in mid-May, remaining on through early autumn. Splash pads are open daily from June 11 through September 6, between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm.

Ladybug Nature Walks
Guided family programs to connect Portlanders to the natural environment.

Lifelong Recreation (formerly known as Senior Recreation)
Virtual programs and outdoor activities available to Portlanders ages 60 and up.

Nature Day Camps
Summer day camps for kids to hike and explore nature.

Virtual Programs
Free Stay and Play videos help Portlanders stay active and connected to PP&R throughout the summer. Videos are available at A limited number of registered, virtual classes will also be available.

Summer Camps
Outdoor day camps, sports, and art camps for ages 5-12 at 20 locations across the city. Camp group sizes are limited and campers will remain with other participants of similar ages.

Swimming pools and lessons*
All seven outdoor public pools and five indoor pools will open on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, if health conditions and staffing allow. Pools will have swim lessons and water exercise classes by reservation only, and limit other offerings to protect public health. Lap swim and water fitness reservations at indoor pools are available between 5:30 am and 12:30 pm.

Here’s a video about Portland Parks:

Community Centers
Community centers will support outdoor COVID-19-responsive programming this summer. Community centers will not be open to the public this summer, regardless of public health guidance. PP&R looks forward to the centers reopening in the fall of 2021.

Blanchet House Raises a Sweet $216,000 for Human Services at Virtual Auction

Blanchet House Raises a Sweet $216,000 for Human Services at Virtual Auction

Portland, OR. Katy Fackler of Wells Fargo was honored with a Service Award at the Blanchet House virtual benefit for her committed effort to build and sustain a therapeutic beekeeping program at Blanchet Farm. (Beekeeping helps formerly homeless individuals heal from trauma, build sobriety, and gain self-confidence.) Fackler’s story was featured during the nonprofit’s virtual “Lend A Helping Hand Brunch” on March 7th. Blanchet House celebrated supporters of the nonprofit’s work to alleviate suffering and to raise critical funds for its services. The virtual event was open to the public and more than 250 people were in attendance. Notable guests included Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Lori Stegman who were there to support the human services provided to the City of Portland by Blanchet House. $216,000 was raised to support Blanchet House’s meal, clothing, and shelter services that are provided free to those in need.

Alaska Airlines PDX employees were honored with a Fr. Kennard Award for their daily volunteer service during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Event honorees included the Jesuit High School community which received the Founders Award for their service in 2020. Students and faculty made more than 20,000 sack lunches to help Blanchet House meet the increased need for to-go meals.

Jim Christianson and Ed O’Hanlon received the Al Riley Award for their life of volunteer service to managing Blanchet House’s finances.

Speakers included a formerly homeless man, Jordan S., who found health and healing at Blanchet Farm while participating in the therapeutic beekeeping program. Jesuit Father Gary Smith gave an inspired blessing reminding everyone that their generosity is “a bridge of life” to those served by Blanchet House.

The goal of the new beekeeping program is to offer the men at the farm a productive activity that will build soft job skills, self-worth, and generate extra income for the farm. Beekeeping is a relaxing hobby that is beneficial to both those in recovery and the environment.

Here’s a video about volunteering:

From Blanchet House:

The event was supported by Presenting Sponsor Fortis Construction, Inc., Platinum Sponsor Agnes Petrusich Family, Gold Sponsors Alaska Airlines and SERA Architects, and other generous sponsors. Additional support of the event came from the B.P. Lester & Regina John Foundation and Ed Cauduro Fund of Oregon Community Foundation who matched gifts made during the special appeal. Next year’s event will celebrate Blanchet House’s 70 years of service to the community. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to contact Brenda Ray Scott, CFRE at 503-241-4340 or [email protected]. A recording of the program is available online at

Portland Art Museum Welcomes Has Two-Phase Spring 2021 Reopening

Portland Art Museum Welcomes Has Two-Phase Spring 2021 Reopening

Portland, OR. The Portland Art Museum will have a phased reopening of the galleries following the second pandemic-related closure ordered by Governor Kate Brown in November 2020. Beginning April 10, the Museum will allow visitors access to all galleries, except the main special exhibition galleries and some adjacent galleries. The entire Museum will open on May 5, giving visitors full access to all galleries including the highly anticipated new exhibition Ansel Adams in Our Time.

Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984); Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1960 Photograph, gelatin silver print; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Lane Collection, 2018.2681; Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Due to pandemic restrictions, Northwest Film Center activities will continue to be offered virtually, and outside as part of the Cinema Unbound Drive-In. The Portland International Film Festival is underway now, with many online screening and program options. The Museum will also continue to offer ways to connect virtually with art.

“We are looking forward to welcoming back staff and visitors following months of closure. We believe that art, film and music are essential to our community and to our collective well-being,” said Brian Ferriso, Museum Director and Chief Curator. “I’m also so grateful for the support the Museum and Film Center have received from our staff, our members and other supporters during these difficult times.”

As a show of appreciation to members, the Museum will offer members-only days on April 8-9, and April 28 – May 2.

New, expanded hours of operation will be Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., including the Museum Store. Timed-entry tickets are required, which we recommend booking in advance because capacity is limited. COVID health and safety precautions, including mask-wearing, physical distancing, and staff wellness screening remain in effect. Tickets go on sale March 18, and will be released on a two-week rolling basis.

About Ansel Adams in Our Time

Ansel Adams in Our Time (May 5 – August 1, 2021), making its only West Coast stop at the Portland Art Museum, celebrates the remarkable artistry and visual legacy of the acclaimed American landscape photographer and educator. More than 100 photographs by Adams, from his earliest marketed prints to his world-renowned Western vistas, trace the artist’s development and maturation over five decades while pointing to his continuing influence on landscape photography today. Eighty images by artists working both before and after Adams, interspersed among his vintage prints, provide a deeper perspective on themes central to his practice, demonstrate the power of his legacy, and will spark critical conversations about the state of the American landscape in the 21st century. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and curated by Karen Haas, the MFA’s Lane Senior Curator of Photographs, Ansel Adams in Our Time draws from the outstanding Lane Collection of more than 6,000 American modernist photographs, works on paper, and paintings.

Organized by the Museum Fine Arts, Boston, and curated for Portland by Julia Dolan, Ph.D., The Minor White Curator of Photography.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: March 25, 6 p.m.An Ansel Adams in Our Time Exhibition Primer with Dr. Rebecca Senf, author of Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams, in virtual conversation with Dr. Julia Dolan, PAM’s Minor White Curator of Photography.