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About

The Sustainable Families Program

Forty percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. These families are working, but still struggling to make ends meet. Whether through jobs that don’t provide livable wages or living under a cloud of debt, these financial burdens keep hard-working families from being able to get ahead and put them at risk for short-term food insecurity and long-term stagnation. 

Birch Families

  • Give $80/month
  • Serve at least two hours/month in the warehouse
  • Meet one-on-one with the Financial Literacy Manager
  • Enroll in the 8-hour Re$tart course
  • Receive access to weekly “shopping” trips in the warehouse, taking home an average of $1,000/month in food, clothing, and household items
To remain eligible, all families must:
  • Not receive SNAP or TANF (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)
  • Have at least one household member working or actively looking for work
  • Practice our Cultural Values and Principles

The Income Gap

The gap between the poverty line and a living wage is increasing every year and working families are falling through the cracks.

Helping Other Non-Profits

In addition to aiding families who are enrolled in the Sustainable Families Program, Birch gives food, clothing, and household items to 70 other nonprofit organizations and food pantries weekly. 


Our Four Pillars

Families regain the freedom to pursue goals that move them away from the cycle of poverty to self-sufficiency, resulting in a positive legacy passed onto their children. 

How BCS is Different

  1. A theory of change based on accountability and the power of human dignity
    At its core, BCS’ unique model of service delivery is founded on a belief that true charity comes from empowering each individual to restore his or her capacity to be self-sufficient, and that the most effective way to accomplish this process is within the context of a community where participants work together to attain their goals.
  2. Efficient redistribution of market surplus
    What local producers of food and other staples consider as “excess inventory” is also the means for working, struggling families to meet their basic needs; BCS is the vital connection diverting those products that would otherwise be added to landfills to the pantries and closets of people who can use them.
  3. An operational structure that is sustainable because it is mostly internally supported
    Since many operational functions are carried out and funded by program participants, the BCS model is able to sustain itself with a much smaller proportion of external cash revenue (in the form of individual donations and grants) than most nonprofit organizations. The organization is staffed by a dedicated group of five full-time and seven part-time employees—a fraction of the number of paid personnel at other nonprofits of BCS’ size and impact.
  4. Consistent, strong, and unified leadership 
    BCS’ founders continue to serve in key executive/operative roles, and some members of the current board of directors have been serving since the board was founded over 25 years ago.

Birch's Sustainability (2019)

Participants and Volunteers Account for 65% of Labor

70% Self Sustainable Through Internal Revenue Streams

Mission

Our mission is to provide a community where people can be responsible and accountable for meeting their basic needs, and to equip them with tools to overcome financial difficulty.

Our History

Birch Community Services began in 1992 with a donated bag of squished bread on the front porch of Barry and Suzanne Birch.  They shared the bread with some single moms and other families in need in their neighborhood. Within the following weeks, other food retailers who had heard of the Birches’ spirit of giving were donating their surplus for re-distribution by the Birches to a growing number of needy families. The organization has steadily grown to become one of the largest food-distribution programs in Oregon, and has been within the top 25 organizations in the Portland Business Journal’s annual list of “Top 100 Portland Non-Profits” and has never received government funding.

 

Our Cultural Values

From 1992 to present day, we strive to be good stewards of everything that we have been entrusted. Every member of the Birch Community from our employees and participants agree to practice our seven cultural values: 

  • Relationship-Focused. We create value for others in a supportive community that fosters inclusiveness, true belonging, and acceptance.
  • Respect and Integrity. We model a culture of honesty, grace, and dependability.
  • Teachable. We promote combining self-awareness, ambition, curiosity, and guidance in the strive towards growth through success and challenges. 
  • Gratitude. We express appreciation for the opportunities provided and the benefit of our community. 
  • Safety. We empower responsibility to take a knowledgable, deliberate, and mindful approach to a holistically safe environment. 
  • Solution Oriented. We encourage a community that works humbly and collaboratively to provide creative strategies to problem solving. 
  • Celebration. We pause to reflect on successes and setbacks, and rejoice in our collective growth. 

Read Our Complete Cultural Values and Principles

Learn More About BCS History

Barry Birch, the beloved co-founder of Birch Community Services (BCS), passed away on March 31st, 2015.  Read more about Barry’s life.

Read the complete story of The House of David November, 1995.

Read the complete story of A Decade Of Gleaning September, 2002.

Are You a Good Fit for Birch?

If you’re ready for an accountability-based program, apply below!

In-Kind Donations: (503) 251-8860 // Warehouse: (503) 251-5431 // info@birchcommunityservices.org
No unscheduled walk-ins due to COVID-19