Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honoring Bread Activist Mike Hiland: A Pilot Light in Portland

Mike Hiland & Matt Newell-Ching
Mike Hiland and I served together on the Bread for the World board for a couple of years back in the 1990s.  But beyond the board service, I came to know Mike as an activist extraordinaire, a kindred spirit. (We Bread grassroots kindred spirits tend to hang out!)

I was really pleased to learn that Mike was recently honored as a corecipient of the Harvest of Hope award, given annually by the Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger (OFRAH).  The award was presented at the OFRAH's Annual Harvest of Hope Breakfast (9th annual) at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland on November 8. The keynote speaker was U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader from the Fifth Congressional District in Oregon.

OFRAH also honored Farmers Ending Hunger, HomePlate Youth Services, and Portland First United Methodist Church. 

Mike received the award for his decades of advocacy work with Bread and for his role as the lead organizer for a recent Circle of Protection conference in Portland, which brought together many different groups around the issue of protecting the most vulnerable from deep budget cuts.

Matt Newell-Ching, Bread's western regional organizer, introduced Mike, comparing his work and the work of Bread activists to a pilot light, which stands steady and ready to serve, igniting a larger response, and does not flash bright then fade like a firework. The work to end hunger is something that continues over the long run. It combines the work of advocates for public policy with that of direct action, to do more than either can do alone.

And here's what the OFRAH web site says about Mike:
Over the years, Mike Hiland has dedicated thousands of volunteer hours to Bread for the World. (Frankly, we all thought he worked for Bread!) He has organized countless offerings of letters in churches throughout the region. Most recently, Mike spearheaded the event Hunger and the Budget Crisis: A Faith-based Call to Action, which was attended by nearly 100 people from a wide variety of religious groups.
Mike is in good company. Here is information about the three other recipients:
Farmers Ending Hunger: begins with Oregon farmers and ranchers who raise hundreds of acres of produce, grain and cattle. With a little extra effort, each farmer donates an acre or two to feed the hungry and suddenly their network had thousands of tons of fresh food!

HomePlate Youth Services: supports the positive development of young people experiencing homelessness or housing instability through community building, education, access to services and resources, and youth empowerment. They do this primarily through a drop-in every Monday and Thursday, which includes a free weekly meal and access to a variety of resources.

For as long as any of those involved in serving the hungry, the poor or the vulnerable can remember, Portland First United Methodist has reached out and served other faith communities and not for profits with the same compassion and dedication as it has in its direct service. If the interfaith community needs a place to celebrate, to mourn, or to learn together, they welcome us. Their welcoming community extends beyond bricks. Their pastors, their staff, and their community make space in their building and space in their hearts.

The Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger seeks to engage diverse religious communities throughout the state, including direct service agencies, in order to develop solutions to the root causes of hunger through education and public policy advocacy

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