By Laura Bolster | Photos: Wesley Lapointe
Just shy of a century on this earth, Doris Avshalomov has spent over half her life in her charming Arlington Heights home. For over fifty years, the native Portlander has lived amongst the towering evergreens surrounding her property. Every morning on her comfortable living room sofa, she triumphs over the New York Times daily crossword puzzle and reigns queen of her SW Portland castle.
Approaching Doris’ home, by way of an upward-sloping path and steep steps, visitors pass by a 1940s wood sign engraved “Howlet Press,” which was Doris’ own printing press. The house is a treasure trove of other curios as well—each with a story to tell. Once, when a delivery person brought her little boy along, he admired Doris’ special collections. Doris’ house, a living museum, is also a child’s paradise.
In Doris’ entryway, photographs of the Portland Youth Philharmonic Orchestra line the walls; her late husband, Jacob Avshalomov, conducted the Philharmonic for forty years. Doris, the musical matriarch, played the double bass. “I played in the junior symphony,” Doris exclaims, “and loved every minute of it!” Both her sons, musicians too, play, conduct, and write music professionally – spread coast to coast in Los Angeles and New York City.
Always an excellent cook, Doris shopped carefully for the makings of their family meals. She loved picking out the best seasonal fruits and vegetables. Now, unable to hand-select her produce, she counts on Store to Door to select the perfect spring asparagus or juiciest plump summer tomato. “I trust Store to Door volunteers to pick my fruits and vegetables.”
“I first heard about Store to Door from my cousin,” Doris says of her initial connection with the program, which began in 2013, “and suddenly I was the one using the service!”
She gushes about the impact Store to Door has had in her life: “Store to Door has been very helpful. First of all, I don’t have to go to the grocery store. I don’t have to drive. I don’t have to carry things for myself. I order specifically. It’s really very helpful.”
Doris raves about her volunteers, too—”Everyone at Store to Door is friendly, sociable, and very good-natured. We always get to connect. I feel welcomed and cared about. They’re always cheerful and nice to see.”
On Wednesdays, Doris’ groceries are delivered to her by Jeannie, one of Store to Door’s outstanding delivery drivers. Jeannie helps unpack groceries, checks over Doris’ order for accuracy, and puts away items. In 2018, Store to Door staff and volunteers made nearly 11,600 such deliveries, to a total of 682 clients. This year, Store to Door continues to work towards our vision of Portland as a community in which all seniors such as Doris, and people with disabilities are nourished, connected, and able to age with dignity in the setting of their choice.