“My long-term connection with Friendly House, its staff and fellow volunteers has given me a deeply satisfying experience of working together to benefit others and to strengthen an indispensable community asset.”
Ellen Goldschmidt has been a part of the Friendly House community for over 30 years. Throughout this time, she has remained dedicated, motivated, and enthusiastic to an inspiring degree. If you need to get something done, you ask Ellen. In the following interview responses, Ellen discusses her journey with Friendly House, and the many different roles she has held along the way.
“I moved to Northwest Thurman Street in Portland from San Francisco in 1990, with my husband and one-and-a-half-year-old son, Sam. Knowing no one in the neighborhood, I was so pleased to find that Friendly House—right down the street from us—offered a playgroup for kids from birth to three years old. Sam and I started attending regularly. It was great to share tips and stories with other parents as the kids played. And, it’s where Sam met his first best friend and I met one of mine.
From playgroup, it was a natural step to join Friendly House’s cooperative preschool, where Sam thrived and we both made more lifelong friends. The knowledgeable teachers mentored the parents, as well as cared for and educated the children. I learned valuable parenting lessons there. What a great support system!
As a parent volunteer, I grew interested in what more Friendly House did beyond the preschool. A friend of mine was the preschool rep on the Friendly House board. I decided to follow in his footsteps and joined up.
In two terms (six years) on the board, I chaired the Program and Planning Committee, served as Vice President and conceived and organized special events, such as a panel discussion on children and computers (back in the early days of computer use). I was on the search committee to hire a new Executive Director after long-time ED Mary Brentano retired.
I think it was after my time on the board that I was asked to lead the effort to decorate the community center for the annual Spring Auction. (This is because I am an artist.) I brought together a group of neighborhood artists and creatives — we dubbed ourselves the Ambiance Committee— and we began an ambitious program of large-scale 2D and 3D art installations to enhance the auction experience, creating something different and more inventive each year.”
“This was my favorite special project. It was satisfying and fun to transform the Crawford Building into a fanciful space for supporters to mingle, celebrate and support Friendly House’s work. I like to think the creativity and care we poured into Ambiance encouraged auction bidding.
Currently, I serve on the Marketing Committee, the Development Task Force and the Auction Committee. Oh, and I created the mural, Friends of Friendly House (that graces the front stairway wall) to honor former Executive Director Vaune Albanese upon her retirement.
Volunteering at Friendly House for over 30 years has given my life focus and meaning. As an artist, I work alone much of the time. My long-term connection with Friendly House, its staff and fellow volunteers has given me a deeply satisfying experience of working together to benefit others and to strengthen an indispensable community asset.”
A huge thank you to Ellen for sharing her story and being a part of this project!
If there is someone whose story you would like to hear or if you would like to share your Friendly House story, please reach out to us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.