Swallowing your pride and asking for help with basic needs is not easy. Yet thousands in Portland must do it every day. In the PACS food pantry, health clinic and thrift store, the goal is not simply to meet basic needs for struggling families, but to give a little bit of dignity back to each person in the process, as Christ did. It is a vital step in the process of empowerment and inspiration that these individuals need to get back on their feet.
Paying it forward: Elisa's story
Elisa helps her friend Steven choose the best items, based on his guided shopping list.
A vast mix of people come to the PACS Food Pantry. Each has
their own background and story.
Elisa is one of those people. Her fortunes crumbled when the
boss she had thrived under passed away. She quickly found herself unemployed,
struggling to get back on her feet, and running out of food.
As Elisa tries to get her life back on track, she has
avoided going hungry, thanks to the PACS Food Pantry. She says she doesn’t come
every month. There are people who need it more. But when push comes to shove,
the pantry is there for her.
We went through the pantry with
Elisa in mid-March to capture her experience. It was a crowded day, as is still
too often the case since the Great Recession. On this day, the line behind the
checkout stand extended all the way to the entrance.
Elisa had brought a friend with her. Steven was an older
gentleman on a fixed income. As Elisa chose her food, she paused often to help him
decipher his shopping list and choose the best items.
As the line of people inched forward, a few began to grow impatient. Elisa and Steven kept their
cool, stayed with their carts, and let the process take its course.
their patience paid off, as they both emerged with a healthy supply of
apples, squash, cereal, bread, dairy, protein, and other items critical to a
But what if the pantry wasn’t there? Food insecurity is a silent
destroyer, even for those who do manage to eventually get help and avoid going hungry.
The search for basic resources can be incredibly time consuming. That is time that
people in need could spend on activities that might lift them out of poverty
such as job-hunting or pursuing educational opportunities. And it’s even worse
for their children, for whom nutrition and parental availability is critical
for healthy development.
Thankfully, the PACS Food Pantry is there, removing that
barrier, meeting basic needs, and giving people a chance at a better future. It
helps people both now and in the future. A 2012 report from the National Bureau
of Economic Research finds that children of low-income families who have
access to safety net programs like food support often show higher levels of
self-sufficiency later in life.
Did you know that YOU can help make programs like this possible? They only exist because people like you donate your time and talent to make a difference. It is critical that PACS sustains these programs for people who are struggling to get back on their feet.
Help someone today by donating, or signing up to volunteer. Thank you so much, and may God bless you for the incredible impact you have.
“I don’t think I’d ever before worked in an environment
where I felt like everybody liked me,” said PACS volunteer Bill Leissner.
“It’s really quite heavenly, literally, to be able to go to
a place where you know that people appreciate you, and they’ll go out of their
way to appreciate you, and if you stick around long enough, you know it’s not a
Bill credits his time at PACS for helping him rediscover his
workplace skills and sense of self-worth, but the process of getting there
wasn’t free of challenges.
Prior to 2001, Bill had always held down a job. He had shot
3500 rolls of film as a professional photographer in Austin, Texas. He had worked
as a Network Administrator in New York. But shortly after the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001, Bill experienced a mental health crisis. While he had
relocated to Vermont a few months before that event, he had multiple friends
who were impacted, including a firefighter who lost his life after going into
one of the towers multiple…
2017 PACS DINNER & AWARD PACS just had their 13th Annual Awards Dinner
& Auction. The night raised almost $106,000 which $10,000 was through the
Silent Auction. The funds raised helps struggling families with basic needs
like food and health care. Dr. Clifford Walters of the Walters Family
Foundation gave the keynote address. The Barbara Nelson Award was presented to Dr. Rodica Malos
for her long-standing and tireless ministry as a volunteer provider for the
PACS Health Clinic. The story behind the Barbara Nelson Award is in honor and
remembrance of Mrs. Barbara Nelson. Barbara exemplified
unbounded enthusiasm, leadership and vision for a better community. She was
the executive of PACS from 1989 to 1993 where she established the PACS Health
Joyce Jordan, who is a volunteer and has worked all over
PACS but is currently volunteering in Food Pantry received the Director’s
Award. The Director’s Award is a combination of many things from length of
volunteering at PACS to putti…
The PACS Health Center project continues to move forward with facility renovations, benefiting most recently from a major grant of $75,000 from the Portland Development Commission (PDC).
The area for the building addition was excavated in February, thanks to a donation of services by John Jones Construction. The foundation was poured in April, and volunteers have nearly completed the removal of sheetrock and other interior debris from the existing facility.
The next steps involve the last bits of interior demolition, then the removal of the brick wall on the front of the existing structure, which will open it up to the addition. Once that wall is gone, framing on the addition will commence and the building will begin to take it's new form.
PACS already operates a primary care health clinic for low-income individuals in its current facility, which it shares with the Food Pantry and the Thrift Store's apparel department.
When complete, the Health Center will provides a dedicated…