Put Your Talents to Good Use at These Portland Organizations and Nonprofits

Using your skills to give back can make you feel good, too.

By Fiona McCann January 1, 2021 Published in the Winter 2020/2021 issue of Portland Monthly

Pull yourself out of the 2020 slump by helping somebody else do the same. “You feel so good about yourself, it’s fun, and you end up surrounded by people who share your values,” says longtime volunteer firefighter and chief of operations for Multnomah County Office of Emergency Management Alice Busch. “It’s the antithesis of feeling like you’re a cog ... and it offers a valid and meaningful reason to get out of the house.” There’s no shortage of ways to help in Portland—and some can be done from home. The question is, what do you do best? Behold, a guide to match your set of skills with a community need.

If You’re Good At ...

Maybe You Should ...

Preparing food

Sign up to make sack lunches from home through Blanchet House, which offers food, shelter, and assistance to unhoused Portlanders. blanchethouse.org, at-home and in-person options


Take grocery orders over the phone, shop for groceries, or deliver them to homebound seniors through Store to Door. storetodooroforegon.org, at-home and in-person options


Sign up through the Children’s Book Bank to sew a tote bag, ready to be filled with reading material for kids in need of books. childrensbookbank.org, at-home and in-person options

Choosing books

During the pandemic, Books to Prisoners meets in groups of five every Tuesday to answer letters from prisoners requesting books, choose the best matches, and pack them for mailing. ewobglobal.net, in person


Friends of Mt Tabor Park volunteers spend mornings removing trash and invasive plants from this Southeast Portland gem. taborfriends.org, in

Mental health support

Don’t Shoot PDX is looking for volunteer mental health professionals for a new program, Safer Space for BLM, to provide peer-to-peer emotional support virtually or in person to BIPOC individuals, including those involved in the Black Lives Matter protests. Your services are particularly helpful if you’re BIPOC, or if you have experience working with BIPOC populations. (See: mental health care for BIPOC folks.) dontshootpdx.org, at-home and in-person options

Political organizing

Get connected with Next Up Oregon to help their mission to engage young people in the political process. nextuporegon.org, at-home and in-person options

Environmental stewardship

Columbia Riverkeeper asks volunteers to write letters to Gov. Kate Brown urging her to adopt a moratorium on Big Dairy, and to Washington Gov. Inslee against a hydroelectric project opposed by Tribal Nations in Goldendale. columbiariverkeeper.org, at home

Web design or social media

Multnomah County’s Office of Emergency Management team is looking for people to create and promote emergency preparedness materials. multco.us/em/volunteer-multnomah-county-emergency-management, at home

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