As 2016 comes to a close we are reflecting on the year with a tremendous amount of gratitude. In the past 12 months our team has celebrated new homes, an engagement, a birth, and countless personal and professional goals realized. We are so thankful to the friends and family who have supported us so we can do what we love. While the future feels a little uncertain, we have a tremendous amount of hope. We live in an amazing city and we know we will continue to thrive as long as we support each other by being good business women, friends and neighbors.

Since it can be overwhelming trying to decide how you will ring in the new year, we put together a list of a few different ways to celebrate this year. We are wishing you and yours a happy and safe New Year’s Eve!


Eat your way into the new year at Biwa with a New Year’s tradition of oysters, sashimi, wagyu short ribs, soba noodles and drink pairings. $65/person. Reservations required.


For only $15 you can play all of the vintage arcade and pinball games your little heart desires, from 5pm-close. DJs + complimentary glass of champagne + food specials + balloon drop. 21 & over.


Dancing, miniature golf, Lasertag, food, drinks and a midnight balloon drop, at the LIBRARY! Proceeds go to the Beaverton Library Foundation. $30 cover.


With the nation’s largest selection of sparkling wine, what better place to ring in the new year? The free chocolate buffet at midnight is just icing on the cake.

You can find a few other interesting ideas at Willamette Week and PDX Eater.

Photo by David L. Reamer

Theatre With a Conscience

New on the nonprofit scene, this local theatre troupe creates, rehearses and performs community-based dramatic presentations with a timely focus on issues of social justice. Each main stage production highlights another local nonprofit with all net proceeds dedicated to issues such as hunger, homelessness, racism, discrimination, and human trafficking.

An Interview with Dan Jamison, Board Chair

How did you become involved with VFV? I saw a children’s theatre performance called “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” performed before a packed house at a neighborhood church. What I soon learned was the play was produced in order to benefit  a local nonprofit. I visited with the Director, Molly Stuckey, and learned that she wanted to form a performing arts group that would operate on this type of a model. We immediately went to work, formed a 501c3, recruited a Board of Directors….and here we are one year later!
Who is your typical client or person who benefits from your services?  We specifically sponsor and produce plays that are of local interest that can be matched with successful local nonprofits that serve many clients throughout the region. For example, “Elf Junior” is the story of an orphan, so we have selected Love Inc and Safe Families to benefit from this effort. Our next main stage play which will be produced in March, 2017, is “Twelve Angry Jurors”. This effort, which is about a contentious jury trial, will benefit the Partnership for Safety and Justice.

Star of VFV’s first production, The Phantom Tollbooth, Kadence Hancock shows off her costume.

How many shows are you hoping to do each year? We currently plan to produce four per year, two youth theatre productions, and two adult main stage productions.
Who is your typical donor? We have received donations from both individuals and businesses. Our appeal to individual donors is unique: they are giving to a successful performing arts group, with the added bonus of “paying it forward” by knowing the proceeds from the play then go to a worthy organization that is doing meaningful work in our area.
How do you choose the nonprofit organizations that you support? We are relatively new at this, but opportunities continue to emerge! For example, as we were considering “Twelve Angry Jurors”, the Malheur Occupation trial was unfolding, with a keen interest both locally and nationally. This helped cement our selection of the play. Matching the play to a worthy organization is a bit of homework and being open to ideas. A respected former colleague of mine who worked in Washington DC recently moved to Portland. Iris shared about her role as a Board member for Partnership for Safety and Justice. As we learned more about the great work they are doing to strengthen and reform the criminal justice system, our Board thought this would be a perfect match.
What is your most underfunded service? Our most underfunded service and our biggest challenge as a new nonprofit is marketing our productions. Everyone we have visited with loves our unique model of producing plays about social justice issues, and then “paying it forward”. We tend to believe our greatest immediate need is simply getting the word out through social media, conventional media, and advertising, and word of mouth. Some of this effort requires resources to advertise and promote.
If someone was interested in volunteering, what services might they be able to help provide? We love volunteers! There are opportunities for set construction, costume creation, media messaging, photography, graphic design, or even if you simply love attending plays…ushering at our events. As a relatively new organization, we are still uncovering and identifying our needs. Also, space is a premium. One of our biggest challenges is having space for our actors and actresses to rehearse. Every dollar saved in free or reduced rental space is an additional dollar that goes to the selected partner nonprofit.
Is there anything else we should know about this awesome organization? Our Board had a discussion early on and shared that “New nonprofits are often held together by duct tape and love!” Looking back at the last year, we would say this is true.  Yet we also have a growing sense of momentum and success. We are amazed that others are beginning to step up and become more engaged, and we are thankful for a small but growing number of community-minded folks who are giving financially. These are exciting times for us.

Celebrate the Holidays with Elf Jr.

Join the Young Voices this December as they bring to life “Elf Jr.” a musical based on the cherished New Line Cinema hit, Elf.

This play tells the story of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and that his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Holiday fun for the whole family and a wonderful opportunity to support the community. Get your tickets here before they’re gone!

It’s Hard Not to Fall for Autumn

We’ve taken a poll and determined that fall is officially our team’s favorite time of year. Changing leaves, crisp mornings and cozy sweaters, just what the doctor ordered after a long beautiful summer. Time to button up your home, harvest the rest of your summer gardens, and get your canning jars out. Here’s what we love to do with our shorter days as we inch towards the rainy season:

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

In the Portland area, we are surrounded by farms in every direction. You won’t have to travel far to find a good looking squash to slice and dice. Might as well get lost in a corn maze while you are at it! Carmel apple anyone?

Kruger’s Farm – A 150-acre farm located on Sauvie Island just 12 miles from downtown Portland at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia. The farm hosts a large produce stand with canning supplies and local artisan food items. U-pick pumpkins, pickling cucumbers, flowers and a HAUNTED corn maze on weekends.

The Pumpkin Patch – The original pumpkin patch on Sauvie Island, you can visit this awesome family farm June-October. Certified sustainable by The Food Alliance this patch offers hayrides, u-pick pumpkins, a fresh produce market, cafe and coffee, corn maze and more.

Lee Farms – Located in Tualatin area since 1869. For seven generations this family has worked the land and today, three generations are actively involved in their farming operations. Make sure get tickets if you plan on visiting on a Saturday or Sunday. Wristbands are available for different levels of fun!

Baggenstos Farm – The Baggenstos family has been farming in the Sherwood community since 1919.  Over three generations have carried on the family farming and every October they offer hayrides, u-pick pumpkins, mazes, farm animals, food, a farm store and more.

Fir Point Farm – This family-owned farm in Aurora seeks to bring back the days of old. Pumpkin activities every weekend in October. Pick your own pumpkins or corn stalks, catch a hayride, jump in the bouncy house or sip some apple cider. Visit Charlotte’s Web corn maze or the petting zoo for some harvest time fun.

Liepold Farms – Located in Boring this farm has nothing boring about it. The fall festival hosts a HUGE corn maze, a variety of u-pick pumpkins, an apple-pult (attempt to hit a target with a huge rubber band and 3 apples), an antique tractor exhibition and lots of BBQ and beer.

Enjoy the Harvest at a Farmer’s Market

It’s the perfect time to fill your basket with the bounty of the season. Harvest is in full swing and there is nothing as good as a farm-to-table meal with friends and family. Be sure to hit up these neighborhood farmer’s markets to grab the freshest produce and flowers around. Colorful stands filled with locally grown fruits and vegetables, tasty samples and smiling faces. The Saturday market at Portland State University in the south Park Blocks offers a huge variety of fall flavors, cooking classes, live music, produce for preserving, gorgeous flower bouquets, delicious prepared foods and, of course, great people watching. Don’t miss the PDX Green Team favorite Pine State Biscuits stand at the south end of the market! From the vegans to the carnivores in your family, everyone loves the warm North Carolina flavors that PSB serves up on a cool fall day.

Make the Harvest Last

If you are like us, you want to stretch out the bounty as long as possible. With a little hard work and some preparation you can enjoy the fruits of your summer harvest all winter long. Some people (like us) get nervous around pressure cookers, so we stick to the foods that can be preserved in a hot water bath. This method is great for any of your high-acid foods, such as:

    • Fruits and Fruit Juices
    • Jams and Jellies
    • Salsas and Tomatoes
    • Pickles and Relishes
    • Chutneys
    • Vinegars
    • Condiments

Canning your harvest can feel a little overwhelming if you have never done it before. The best way to learn is to become a preserving apprentice! Connect with a friend who has experience and supplies and offer to assist them with their project. They will appreciate the help and you will learn a hands-on skill that will last a lifetime. There are many steps involved and it is much more fun with some good company, great conversation and even a glass of wine.

If you love to DIY and want to jump right in, be sure to pick up the canning bible (Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving) and start with jam. The sticky sweet satisfaction of canning your own fruit is fun for people of all ages and helps you draw out the flavors of summer all year long. The Portland Homestead Supply Co will have all that you need to get your canning projects underway. Stop in for community classes and all of your canning and preserving supplies. Yum!