Graham W. started volunteering at the Resource Center Soup Kitchen several years ago. A Portland resident for nearly ten years, Graham’s compassion for people struggling in his own neighborhood compelled him to begin giving back.
Graham used to bike around Portland with granola bars and energy-packed snacks in his backpack to give to folks he saw along his daily commute asking for food, money, or a helping hand. Thinking this effort wasn’t enough, Graham searched for more ways to give back and decided to start volunteering.
“Volunteering with an organization like Preble Street gave me an opportunity to serve more of my neighbors during their times of greatest need,” says Graham.
Making a weekly commitment to volunteer at the Teen Center he helps prepare lunch every Friday.
Graham experienced homelessness as a teenager with his family, and knows first-hand how difficult and traumatic these experiences can be. “It’s the kids that keep me coming back. I experienced a period of homelessness myself as a teenager, and I feel overwhelming compassion for anyone having to endure the alienation and distress that comes with that, especially during a stage of life that already tends to be difficult even under normal circumstances.”
He considers himself lucky to have faced that difficult time in his life with his family close by. “My mom, my brother, and I were able to keep a roof over our heads, either in a shelter or at a friend’s house, but I know not every kid is fortunate enough to have that degree of support. This is why I feel compelled to do something to help. It holds a deeper meaning for me that goes beyond just being active in my community. It’s something that I have to do.”
When asked what he loves most about volunteering at the Teen Center, he points to his fellow volunteers and the Teen Center Staff. “They are all delightful people who have welcomed me and helped me feel a sense of belonging,” he says.
A huge thank you to Graham, and to all our volunteers, who make the work of Preble Street possible! If you’re interested in taking on a regular shift at the Teen Center, email Volunteer Manager Ali Brauner to get started!