A History of Helping Those in Need Charity has fed people who are homeless and low-income in downtown Portland for nearly 70 years By Jake Ten Pas
or 67 years, the Blanchet House of Hospitality has provided high-quality meals to Portland’s homeless and lowincome populations free of charge. Anyone in need can get a hot meal, and with no ideological strings attached. There’s no need to sit through a sermon or say a prayer. Since 1952, 16 million people have been fed, and 10,000 men housed. “It’s always been grassroots,” says Jim O’Hanlon who, along with Gene Feltz, is one of two surviving founders of Blanchet House who also are MAC members. “We didn’t want the government telling us we had to do this or that, or anything. See,
we don’t require those we serve to do anything. If you come in here and you’re hungry, you get to eat.” That all of this was born out of the desire to meet girls only makes the story more amazing. In 1938, students at Portland’s all-boys Columbia Prep High School decided they wanted to mingle, and set out to form a fraternity to host social functions. After matriculating to University of Portland, their request to create a chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was denied. Instead, they founded the Blanchet Club, a social and service organization named after the first
Ed and Jim O’Hanlon at Blanchet Farm picnic
Gene and Steve Feltz at 2018 Blanchet House Legacy Awards
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Catholic Archbishop of Oregon, Francis Norbert Blanchet. Then, World War II happened, and some of the boys behind club didn’t make it back. Blanchet lay dormant until 1947, and O’Hanlon officially joined in 1948 as a sophomore at UP. With the help of classmates and friends such as Kevin Collins; the Harrington brothers, Dan and Bernie; Pat Carr; Hugh McGinnis; Dan Christianson; Joe Petrusich; and Father Francis Kennard, O’Hanlon and Feltz got Blanchet House properly off the ground — or on the ground, helping those stuck there — in February of 1952.
The magazine for members of the Multnomah Athletic Club.