TIRELESS EFFORT BY NONPROFIT HELP THOSE IN NEED
“We need more individuals in our community to lead with love,” said former Oregon City Mayor Rachel Lyles Smith, recognizing Brandi Johnson’s “tireless efforts to help our neighbors.”
Before Lyles Smith resigned as mayor, she honored Johnson as part of Oregon City’s celebration of Extra Mile Day on Nov. 1, recognizing LoveOne for “making a difference and creating positive change” in the city.
Johnson, the director of LoveOne, organizes volunteers and creates service programs across Clackamas County to advocate for low-income and homeless individuals who need assistance.
Earlier this year, the Milwaukie City Council named Brandi and Tom Johnson Volunteers of the Year for their countless hours of service and leadership.
The Johnsons run a a nonprofit, community-based organization helping neighbors in need by providing clean laundry services, showers, meals, personal care resources and community connections.
Brandi received the Rotary Club of Clackamas’ annual award to recognize extraordinary contributions to the community by citizens who are not club members.
Milwaukie officials said the Johnsons’ ability to take a step back and let those they serve advocate for themselves has set LoveOne apart from other service providers in creating lasting community connections.
Building a new shower cart came out of a conversation with the district attorney’s office in March 2020, when Johnson saw a sharp increase in serious health issues related to lack of access to hygiene-related services. Many facilities that served the homeless in the Clackamas area stopped operations or ceased providing some services, like shower facilities, due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
LoveOne now organizes two monthly events in and near Milwaukie in partnership with Milwaukie Laundry, 10515 S.E. 42nd Ave., and QED Laundry, 18020 S.E. McLoughlin Blvd. It also hosts regular events in Oregon City and Molalla. Individuals and families can come to an event to do up to three loads of laundry for free, along with free access to essential personal care items, snacks, and other resources.
LoveOne also regularly hosts events to provide perishable and nonperishable food items, along with a mobile shower cart. For a shower event, neighbors are given 15 minutes in a shower stocked with everything needed and then given a new undershirt, underwear and socks to keep.
Brandi credits their community connections and partnerships as vital to their success and ability to make such a significant impact in the community. The list of community partners Brandi and Tom have cultivated is extensive and includes businesses, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups, other nonprofits and government agencies. Brandi and Tom have also recruited dedicated volunteers who show up regularly to help, some of which were once those who previously accessed their services.
“The organization has truly been able to create a community of people supporting one another. Laundry and meals are just short-term relief in the quest for long-term outcomes,” said Tom. “That’s ultimately what LoveOne seeks for all of its neighbors.”
Brandi and Tom gave similar advice when asked if they had any insights for anyone interested in volunteering. Tom said, “If something interests you, go there, but be careful not to arrive with your own agenda.” Brandi added, “We get to know people and find out what they need as individuals, not what we think they need.”
LoveOne’s mission reads: “Offering love, respect and dignity. One load of laundry at a time. One shower at a time. One meal at a time.”
LoveOne’s mobile shower cart was donated by Rotary and put in service more than a year ago “with excellent results.” Due to her group’s efforts, more than 300 homeless people receive showers twice per month.
Brandi said LoveOne has one of the best direct connections with homeless people, especially helping them move and receive appropriate services after “sweeps” of homeless camps.
For those interested in supporting LoveOne and its mission, there are three ways to help — volunteer at one of the events, assist with their fundraising efforts or donate to them directly. To learn more about LoveOne, visit loveonecommunity.org.