Sisters of the Road café, located in Portland, Oregon’s Chinatown district, has served up ‘dinner with dignity’ for 35 years.
A small, cozy space with lots of charm, the café serves one meal each day for $1.50, or allows people to work in exchange for the good food. Sisters of the Road gives free meals to families without the means to pay or to those unable to work for the meal.
Next week, the café will hold its big holiday meal, with about 250 people going through the doors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., to feast on turkey and the trappings.
To offer a warm, healthy meal day-in and day-out to people experiencing homelessness, takes a lot of dedicated volunteers, staff, work, food and love. Robert Adams, a Sisters of the Road volunteer for the last three years and now a new board member, embodies the Sisters spirit.
Robert, 48, not only loves to bake special treats for people eating Sisters’ well-balanced meals, he’s also the resident bike fairy – he helps keep the bikes of staff and patrons in order, oiling chains, pumping tires, making small adjustments, and even fixing flats, if needed.
“I’m a tinkerer, and I try to help all people here with their bikes,” he said. “Over 95% of our staff ride bikes, but they don’t really have the time for bike maintenance. I want them to be safe, so I’ll do the little fixes for them.”
Robert hates to be ‘trapped in traffic’ he says, thus biking is his main form of transportation. Inside Sisters’ offices, which are next to the café, there are bike racks so employees have space to park their bikes. And Robert is ever-ready with the bike pump or necessary tools to keep the cycles in working order.
Nutcase has partnered this year with Sisters of the Road, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, and donated helmets to the yearly giving campaign, which runs in November and December. In November, Sisters gave away a Nutcase Americana helmet, and this coming Wednesday, December 17th, all donors to the campaign will be entered in a raffle to win a Hula Blue helmet.
Sisters’ goal this year is to raise $350,000, enough to cover 70% of the annual operating costs of the café as well as contribute to some of the other human rights campaigns Sisters works on.
This year two special features make giving to Sisters very effective. The first is a set of matching grants from the Collins Foundation and the Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust that means any new donors making a donation to Sisters of the Road will be 100% matched. In addition, Sisters has a group of ongoing contributors called ‘Sisters’ Champions’ that will also match incoming donations through the end of the year, $.50 to the dollar.
That means a donation of $100 by any individual between now and the end of the year will add up to $250, going in part to Sisters’ warm meals offered at the cafe and Robert’s ability to keep making cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goodies like Blueberry Spice Cake to show his love.