It was the height of the depression in 1934 and the women from the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church- dubbed the Sunshine Ladies- met to sew quilts and clothing for struggling families. Food for many during that time was in short supply and the ladies gathered up scarce resources to provide to those families who had nothing to eat. Fast forwarding to 2018 Portland Adventist Community Service Center provides services to east county families. Eight churches furnish volunteers and financial support to help struggling individuals and families.
The following is an interview with Mark Fulop the new executive director of the center.
Q. What best describes what you do at PACS?
A. We provide food, healthcare, low-cost clothing, and household items to a variety of folks of different cultures, languages, income levels. On the healthcare side, for many years we have provided at no cost or low-cost health screening. We are in the process of developing a dental clinic that will be fully staffed with volunteer dentists, hygienists, and other dental professionals. Many people have medical insurance but very few have dental insurance. This is especially true of our seniors. It is our hope to close that gap and we are keenly aware of the need.
Q. Is there any cost to those receiving care?
A. We have found that charging a minimal amount of $5.00 creates a commitment to show up for the medical service. Many people are waiting to get in to see the doctor or nurse and we have found this helps eliminate the no-shows.
Q. How has the recent changes in health care insurance altered what you are doing?
A. We are now spending more time explaining and helping patients navigate the health care system. Just knowing who and how to access the services needed can be daunting to families where they are both working and have little time to research how to get medical care for their children and themselves.
Q. What kind of donations do you need?
A. We take household items, furniture, clean mattresses, clothing, canned or packaged food, and cash donations. If you have a running, car, truck, motorcycle, or boat, we put them for sale on our lot. We don’t take hazardous materials and old computers. PACS received $13,000 in metals and fabrics that we recycled. You or your organization will receive a receipt that is tax deductible.
Q. What does PACS do to supplement food to families?
A. We have a food pantry that supplies three to five days (worth) of groceries to over 5,690 people every month. In addition, we go out into the neighborhoods with our Mobile Food Pantry and serve and additional 490 folks. Of those numbers 34% are children and 21% are seniors. We go as far east as Estacada and over to Northwest Portland. Our drivers go to eight different sites that are staffed with volunteers from churches or community organizations.
Q. What’s the scoop on donations?
A. Glad you asked. It cost $4.87 to provide one person with three to five days of groceries. Every dollar donated in the food pantry is multiplied 7 times through the value of donated food and volunteer help. Oregon Food Bank and retail stores in East County donate food on a regular basis. Last year 729 tons of food were donated. You can give online, by mail and even over the phone. With the kind of purchasing power we have you can see that your gift goes a very long ways.
Q. How can our readers help?
A. Besides the aforementioned donation items we need volunteers at the center, and truck drivers picking up donations daily. We couldn’t operate without people giving of their time. Every month we have 250 people who contribute their time and skills to serve our community. I might add that there is nothing like the feeling of helping others who really need help.
Q. Where can we find out more or drop off our donations?
A. We are located at 11020 N.E. Halsey Street, Portland. Call (503) 252-8500. http://www.pacsonline.org. Portland Adventist Community Services.