It’s been almost 10 years since Melodie Wilson started volunteering at Florence House to help serve upwards of 50 women a warm dinner every Wednesday evening. Florence House — a Housing First facility in Portland exclusively for women — opened just shy of a decade ago, with 15 semi-private living spaces, up to 25 emergency shelter beds, and 25 permanent furnished efficiency apartments for chronically homeless women.
“I began volunteering for Florence House after reading about its mission and partnership with L.L.Bean,” says Melodie, an L.L.Bean employee. “I thought it would be a great way to transition into ‘empty nesting’ while learning more about my community and its needs.”
When Florence House first opened, L.L.Bean helped procure many of the furnishings for the apartment units through donations from their home goods store. L.L.Bean was instrumental in making sure the women at Florence House had the comforts they needed to begin their life anew in safe, stable housing. Nearly a decade later, L.L.Bean continues to support Florence House and other Preble Street programs by encouraging its employees to volunteer — we are certainly grateful to have a seasoned veteran volunteer like Melodie!
Melodie helps prepare, serve, and clean up weekly dinners at Florence House. She chops, bakes, and ladles her way through delicious dishes while making the 50+ women who join for a hot meal smile and feel welcome. Florence House kitchen staff member Katherine nominated Melodie to be the volunteer of month saying, “Melodie is a breath of fresh air! She’s ready to do whatever needs to be done and is often one step ahead of me! She’s wonderful at interacting with clients — she exudes a warm, gentle presence everyone picks up on.”
While Melodie is quick to point to the gratitude and perseverance of the clients who live at Florence House as a major motivation for coming back, she is also incredibly generous and kind to the staff. “They’re passionate, and a caring beacon of hope for these women,” she notes. “But I’m often reminded that it’s tough work too, and it’s been nice to be a steady presence for them.’”
Thank you, Melodie, for providing stable support to both the clients and staff at Florence House. You are a wonderful sous-chef and we are so grateful for your many hours of service!