In 1988 the church opened the doors of the Julia West House (named in memory of Julia West Lindsley, wife of the first installed pastor). Today the ministry of the Julia West House continues to provide hospitality and a place to be for those who have nowhere else to go. It is a place where low-income and homeless residents of the downtown area become part of a community, and it offers guests the opportunity to learn, become self-sufficient, and improve their futures by gaining new skills.
The Julia West House was awarded the Excellence in Innovation Award by the Oregon Food Bank. Each year the Food Bank recognizes organizations that promote excellence in service to low-income community members. The Julia West House was chosen based on the combination microwave vegetarian cooking class and coupon program in conjunction with the Sunday Farmers Table offered at the First Presbyterian Church.
A collaborative effort, the project came together with the work of Jenny Holmes and the Interfaith Food and Farms Partnership of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon; Roberta Badger-Cain, Farmers’ Table Coordinator; Julie Williams, Coupon Program Coordinator; professional chef Lisa Bersani; and the Julia West House. Many others had a hand in the project, and it was sponsored by the Advocacy and Social Justice Committee at the First Presbyterian Church.
To encourage healthy eating, the classes offer vegetarian, low cost, appetizing microwave meals. Each student who completes the course receives coupons redeemable at the Sunday Farmers Table. The classes take place in Geneva Hall in the early spring. Lunch is served to those in attendance, friends are made, and community is developed. Thank-you to everyone who had a part in bringing this award to the Julia West House!
Julia West House partners with Portland Public Schools
The Pioneer School Program Community Service Project was a collaboration between the Julia West House Art Class, Warner Pacific College, and the Portland Public Schools. This project involved weeding and cleaning the sidewalk, and painting the block long concrete retaining wall surrounding the school. The graphic wall design was inspired by the 60’s architecture of the building. The colors of the wall reflect the colors of the neighborhood houses and really call attention to how the school is part of the community. A stainless steel sign will be added next, since the school has never had a sign.
Volunteer and professional artist Sharon Agnor is the art instructor at the Julia West House. The participants in the project are men living with homelessness and guests at the Julia West House.
Additional plans in the works include a courtyard garden project that will provide areas for summer classes to raise vegetables. Pioneer School is located on Division Street in Southeast Portland.