Mar 09, 2017
Employee Spotlight— Roy Spencer
Every night of the week, a crowd of youth line up to get into our downtown Portland shelter where they get a warm bed and meal for the night. Preparing for their arrival every day takes a lot of work, including cooking their dinner. We talked to Roy Spencer, Porchlight Shelter Supervisor, about his job which includes managing and cleaning the shelter, doing light maintenance work and feeding up to 70 homeless youth daily. In addition to performing all of those tasks, according to his supervisor, Dennis Lundberg, “Roy will always step in when the shelter is short-staffed, going the extra mile for the staff and youth we serve. For example, this week he is on call 24/7 for 14 days straight.” Roy has been working for Janus for over three years. A soft-spoken person with an easy smile, he has earned respect from his peers and youth.
How do you start your day?
Every morning, after all the youth have left, I wash all the bedding, filling up six washer and dryers in the shelter. In between washing, I answer emails and then go into the kitchen to start meal planning. I try to reserve one or two days a week to cook meals that will last for a few days including the days I am not working. I also need to prepare meals that aren’t too complicated so I can produce enough food quickly using ingredients I have on hand. In the past, we received food donations from churches and community organizations, but that has diminished since Health Department regulations now require that donated meals be prepared in a licensed, commercial kitchen, not at home.
What are some favorite meals?
Although many of the youth like fried foods, I am limited to what I can cook, because we can’t fry, sauté or grill for safety reasons. So I make dishes like lasagna, taco casserole, vegetables and rice, which are always popular. We also have to offer vegetarian options too for the growing number of youth who don’t eat meat.
Where do you get food for the shelter?
I shop at United Grocers and Costco to get large quantities of food for our pantry and freezers. But we also get donations from bakeries, smaller grocery stores and Stumptown coffee. Occasionally I will drive to a donor to pick up a commercially-prepared meal like pizza or sandwiches. Sometimes we get donations from caterers who have extra food from an event.
What do you like most about your job?
There is always something different going on in the shelter with new youth passing through every day. It’s a dynamic environment. I have learned to be creative in dealing with the youth that come here, helping them as best I can.