Lift Urban Portland supports those in need in Northwest Portland, the Pearl District, Old Town and the West End. We were founded as Northwest Portland Ministries in 1981 by lay people from northwest Portland congregations to support neighbors through coordinated volunteer efforts.
Initial activities included conducting food drives and distributing government food commodities, helping people connect with existing social services, and providing social opportunities.
An early tradition, which started in 1985 and continues today, is the annual Lift Urban Portland Christmas dinner. More than 150 congregational and community volunteers prepare and serve turkey dinners, provide fellowship and offer small gifts to about 500 people — both on-site at Congregation Beth Israel and via Meals on Wheels home delivery.
Lift Urban Portland entered a partnership with Home Forward (formerly the Housing Authority of Portland) to provide socialization and other services to residents of low-income apartment buildings through an Adopt-a-Highrise program. Volunteers from churches and synagogues provide community-building and enrichment activities, including social events and classes.
Lift Urban Portland also matches volunteers and residents for one-on-one assistance that preserves the independence of elders and people with disabilities.
Since 2005, Lift Urban Portland has partnered with Loaves & Fishes and First Immanuel Lutheran Church to operate a weekday Senior Meal Site that serves hot lunches to 50 or more elders daily.
In December of 2007, Lift Urban Portland acquired a community emergency food pantry and — with the support of donors, the Oregon Food Bank, and local businesses — expanded the program to provide staples and fresh food in an environment that emulates a small grocery store. The Pantry serves 460 people each month with an additional 95 people receiving fresh produce monthly.
In 2008, Lift Urban Portland established a Food for Kids Backpacks program that provides weekend food for school children who live in shelters and otherwise depend on school meals for nutrition. This program feeds 160 people each weekend. At the same time, we started delivering food boxes to people who cannot travel to the Pantry. We currently deliver 100 food boxes per month to this most vulnerable population.
Lift Urban Portland was incorporated January 30, 1986, and received its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in July 1987.