About Riverfolk

The Riverfolk Story


Riverfolk was founded in 2016 by Mary Docherty. Having spent much time in 2015 volunteering for Filling Empty Bellies and the Astoria Warming Center, Mary found herself getting close to this underserved segment of our community. As she did, Mary began to identify needs beyond food and temporary shelter that were equally as important. Clatsop County has very extreme winters. So Mary mobilized to gather heavy coats, socks, rain gear, sleeping bags and tents. This grew into a full-blown vision to create a new organization, meant to supplement existing local aid organizations, and bridge the gaps between them. Mary came to her husband, a professional musician, producer and marketing guy. Scott Docherty co-produces an annual fundraising concert in Portland called Winterfolk, to benefit a wonderful 45+ year-old cafe and advocacy group for the homeless, Sisters of the Road. It’s one of the biggest folk shows of the year in Portland led by Tom May for 30 years and has hosted such legendary headliners as Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul & Mary,) Utah Phillips, and Dave Carter. Mary had attended the Winterfolk event in February of 2016 and got the idea to do a similar event in Astoria, and call it “Riverfolk.” Scott loved the idea and immediately mobilized to put a show together, which was presented in March 2016. (You can read about it here.) It was a huge success, got lots of publicity, and Riverfolk was born!



Shortly after the concert, it was suggested that Mary apply for a grant from the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, once the organization was established and became a legal 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Well, the profits from the benefit paid for a lawyer who got Riverfolk official with the IRS in merely 3 months! In the meantime, Mary identified a huge unmet need an began addressing it. Many folks on the street have a hard time holding on to important documents like birth certificates and state identification cards. Without valid ID, it’s impossible for people to get resources that would be available to them – social services, employment, or permanent residence. So Mary began gathering info, applying for birth certificates and working, in person, with people at the DMV to get them IDs. At up to over $60 a pop, Riverfolk now needed help. Mary applied for that grant, and the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation awarded a sizable amount to fund the ID Replacement Program.

Now, with Riverfolk an official non-profit, they had a their board of directors in place, who helped organize this into an efficient and effective effort. An opening came up at the Astoria Armory to serve a Sunday Brunch at their facility, at first 3 Sundays a month, then eventually every Sunday. Riverfolk, in less than a year, has obtained nearly 50 identification cards, handed out dozens of heavy rain coats and pants, helped people get jobs and permanent residences – all in less than a year! In October of 2017, we discontinued the Sunday Brunch to allot more time to replacing crucial documents.

Mary attributes Riverfolk’s success to passionate and focused volunteers, generous donors, and most importantly, an attitude of love for the people they serve. Mary considers Riverfolk’s clientele as “her tribe.” She doesn’t look down on people who are struggling, rather, she views them as family. And there is a lot of love in this tribe!

We invite you to be a part of this important work. These are our neighbors, and they need our compassion and our help. Please considering supporting Riverfolk with a generous donation, or become a volunteer and become a part of the tribe!


The Riverfolk Story


Riverfolk was founded in 2016 by Mary Docherty. Having spent much time in 2015 volunteering for Filling Empty Bellies and the Astoria Warming Center, Mary found herself getting close to this underserved segment of our community. As she did, Mary began to identify needs beyond food and temporary shelter that were equally as important. Clatsop County has very extreme winters. So Mary mobilized to gather heavy coats, socks, rain gear, sleeping bags and tents. This grew into a full-blown vision to create a new organization, meant to supplement existing local aid organizations, and and bridge the gaps between them. Mary came to her husband, a professional musician, producer and marketing guy. Scott Docherty co-produces an annual fundraising concert in Portland called Winterfolk, to benefit a wonderful 45+ year-old cafe and advocacy group for the homeless, Sisters of the Road. It’s one of the biggest folk shows of the year in Portland led by Tom May for 30 years and has hosted such legendary headliners as Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul & Mary,) Utah Phillips, and Dave Carter. Mary had attended the Winterfolk event in February of 2016 and got the idea to do a similar event in Astoria, and call it “Riverfolk.” Scott loved the idea and immediately mobilized to put a show together, which was presented in March 2016. (You can read about it here.) It was a huge success, got lots of publicity, and Riverfolk was born!

Our state senator, Betsy Johnson, suggested that Mary apply for a grant from the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, once the organization was established and became a legal 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Well, the profits from the benefit paid for a lawyer who got us official with the IRS in merely 3 months! In the meantime, Mary identified a huge unmet need an began addressing it. Many folks on the street have a hard time holding on to important documents like birth certificates and state identification cards. Without valid ID, it’s impossible for people to get resources that would be available to them – social services, employment, or permanent residence. So Mary began gathering info, applying for birth certificates and working, in person, with people at the DMV to get them IDs. At up to over $60 a pop, Riverfolk now needed help. Mary applied for that grant, and help came from the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, thanks to the help of Senator Betsy Johnson!

Now, with Riverfolk an official non-profit, they had a first-rate board of directors in place, who helped organize this into an efficient and effective effort. An opening came up at the Astoria Armory to serve a morning meal at their facility, at first 3 Sundays a moth, then eventually every Sunday. Riverfolk, in less than a year, has obtained nearly 50 identification cards, dozens of heavy rain coats and pants, helped people get jobs and permanent residences – all in less than a year!

Mary attributes Riverfolk’s success to passionate and focused volunteers, generous donors, and most importantly, an attitude of love for the people they serve. Mary considers Riverfolk’s clientele as “her tribe.” She doesn’t look down on people who are struggling, rather, she views them as family. And there is a lot of love in this tribe!

We invite you to be a part of this important work. These are our neighbors, and they need our compassion and our help. Please considering supporting Riverfolk with a generous donation, or become a volunteer and become a part of the tribe!

Our Mission


Riverfolk is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to meet the needs of Clatsop County’s underserved and homeless community members. Clatsop County is experiencing a 15.4% poverty rate, 6.4% unemployment rate, and grapples with assisting over 600 homeless community members with limited funding and service available to meet these needs.

In assessing Clatsop County’s current human service programs, we have found additional services that were not being met. Some very important services that we are committed to providing are; assisting people in obtaining state identification and birth certificates, as well as providing low barrier access to meals by serving a Sunday brunch weekly. We are also preparing to become an Oregon Food Bank food pantry site to better serve those experiencing homelessness or disenfranchising poverty.