Portland Community College

Portland Community College Foundation: Campaign for Opportunity PCC Foundation: Campaign for Opportunity

Venus Barnes

Alumna / PCC staff
Venus Barnes holding a basket of food that she grew

“It wasn’t until I got to PCC and saw what true support was that I was able to see what I’m truly capable of and who I really am.”
Venus Barnes, PCC alumna and AmeriCorps Learning Garden coordinator

Venus Barnes knows what it’s like to not know where your next meal is coming from. Growing up with an unstable family situation, Venus went back to school at PCC after leaving an abusive relationship, with her two children in tow. Unable to overcome financial hardship, Venus and her children were about to become homeless, so she quit PCC in order to work more hours. At that time, Venus wasn’t aware that PCC had resources to help her.

When she was able to re-enroll at PCC, Venus applied for an AmeriCorps position managing the Learning Garden at Sylvania and found her passion for providing students access to free, healthy food. Everyday, she lets them know it’s okay to ask for help. If a student comes into her office and is overwhelmed, she will say, “Have you eaten today? I have a snack here for you.” That opens up conversation and breaks down barriers. Venus is a food justice warrior and is working hard to eliminate the stigma of students accessing free food.