On October 27, ESCO, a Weir Group Division, hosted the 43rd Harvest Dinner in coordination with Friendly House, a local nonprofit dedicated to creating a thriving community by connecting people of all ages and backgrounds. We sat down with Kristol Cohn, International Logistics Coordinator, and Mike Funke, Vice President, Global Supply Chain, to learn more about the event and the important role ESCO Division plays in giving back to community members in our neighborhood.
Kristol: Mike, I know you’ve been involved with Friendly House in various ways. Can you tell us about your involvement with the organization and the role they play in the community?
Mike: Friendly House is a great local organization that offers services for neighbors in Northwest Portland and other parts of the Portland Metro area. Their programming centers on their core values: personal development, integrity, compassion, equity, reliability and vitality—all values we strive to live within our own company.
I’m just one of the many ESCO Division employees who has served on the Friendly House Board of Directors over the years. I’ve been on the Board for three years now and I’m also the auctioneer for their annual charity auction.
ESCO Division has long been a partner with Friendly House, primarily because they’ve traditionally been located right in our backyard in Slabtown and we value the opportunity to give back to our local community. One way we help support those in our neighborhood is through our annual Harvest Dinner, which I know you have experience volunteering at and planning, Kristol.
Kristol: Yes, the Harvest Dinner is an important event for our team. We’ve been hosting the dinner for 43 years now!
Mike: Kristol, could you tell us a little more about the Harvest Dinner?
Kristol: I have had the honor of leading it in years past, but for those unfamiliar, former ESCO employee Nick Santangelo started this dinner 43 years ago as a way to help the elderly members of Friendly House enjoy a holiday meal and festivities, especially since so many of them are homebound or may not have family members in the area to spend the holidays with. Thanks to Nick’s hard work and dedication to the cause, our company has been involved with hosting the annual dinner for decades.
We host around 200 older adults for the dinner, which generally takes place in November. The dinner includes not only a Thanksgiving-themed meal, but also entertainment of some kind, such as a choir or band, raffle prizes and goody bags that we hand out to guests before they head home. The bags include some basic necessities and fun surprise gifts.