Will Barton gave the shoes off his feet to a Harvest Dinner attendee
Harvest Dinner And More To Be Done
We expend a lot of energy thinking about the Trail Blazers. We argue over who should be the fifteenth and final player on the roster. We come up with crazy trade scenarios and post comment after comment on blogs and message boards. It’s a great way to pass the time.
Unfortunately, a lot of people in our community aren’t afforded the luxury of worrying about such things. For a significant number of Portlanders, concerns over food, shelter and access to even the most basic healthcare are problems that far surpass quibbles about who should be the first player off the bench or whether the zone defense works in the NBA.
But for at least one day a year, we set aside the relatively trivial issues that confront NBA teams and go about trying to help those with real problems at the annual Harvest Dinner. For the seventeenth consecutive year the Trail Blazers, along with Providence Health & Services, provided hot meals, flu shots, hair cuts, dental and podiatry care, pet care and temporary boarding to thousands of locals in need.
While Harvest Dinner isn’t our only make it better
event, it’s certainly our most collaborative. Along with Providence Health & Human Services, the Oregon Humane Society, Medical Team International, Compassion Care Clinic, Great Clips, Jeff Hinds Photography, Wells Fargo and Coca Cola assist the Trail Blazers in their efforts to get people the basic services they need. This year, over 6,000 people were helped in one way or another.
While lending an assist to that many people is a great feeling, it dissipates rather quickly when you realize the scope of the problem. A one-night count done by the city in January 2011 identified 1,718 individuals who were homeless. Of those, 988 said they were homeless the last time Portland did a similar count in 2009. And the issue is no way unique to Portland, as an estimated 21,000 children in Oregon are homeless, and 185,000 live in poverty. Those are just the numbers for kids.
Harvest Dinner helps, but there’s always more to be done. It would be nice to think that, after 17 years, the need would have lessened, but it’s simply not the case. There are more people than ever struggling to provide for themselves and their families, which is all the more reason to keep working to find some kind of solution to a persistent problem. But until that day, we’ll keep doing what we can to provide some comfort to those in need, which means we’ll see you at the 18th annual Harvest Dinner next year.