Monday, October 26, 2009

Lending a Hand

Howard and I were asked by our former neighbor (and community activist), Hazel Patton, to serve on a Construction Task Force for Helping Hands Resources way back in May, 2007. A little about the organization. Helping Hands Resouces has served the Salem community for over 40 years. It provides clothing and household items for adults and children, without charge, to anyone in need. Helping Hands started out in the basement of a private home in March, 1967, moved to a room at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and eventually moved to a house on 13th Street in S.E. Salem. Helping Hands Resources has grown to the point that it now serves the needs of over 30,000 clients each year. Holy moley! That's amazing. And get this: Helping Hands Resources is completely dependent on donations and is staffed solely by volunteers! There is no paid staff. At all.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, captures the essence of their organization, their mission and their more than 40 year history: Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

So, back to my story. Hazel asked us to serve on a task force to help get a new building built for the organization. They had been operating out of a cute little house at 1755 13th Street in SE Salem (it was only 990 square feet). A group of community leaders were invited to be on the task force (I'm not sure where I fit into that picture) and two years later, the brand spanking new building is nearing completion (with a whopping 2,800 square feet)! And, the building has been designed to achieve the LEED silver level through incorporation of sustainable materials selection, energy efficient heating/cooling systems, double glazed windows, tankless water heaters and other similar components. The old house was also recycled by being moved to a new site. An impressive use of resources. Here's the new building as it nears completion.

Now this is the part where I come in. Finally, I was able to contribute something to the task force. I was asked to work with Hazel on the Grand Opening celebration. Hazel is rounding up food from the delicious restaurant Wild Pear and I agreed to take care of decorations and a little gift for the contributors and donors. For the gift, I decided a clothespin magnet would be appropriate, so I whipped together an assortment.

I was going to put them in a basket, but all the magnets were clinging to each other, making for a jumbled mess. To the rescue, a couple of metal objects from my storage shed:

For the Open House, I thought it would be fun to spell out H E L P I N G H A N D S using old kid's t-shirts. My daughter Amy contributed my grandson's t-shirts for the project.

It should be a wonderful celebration and conclusion to a long-time dream for the volunteers and a two-year commitment by the task force.

And if you're inspired to make a contribution, you can send your check to:

Helping Hands
c/o 1444 Liberty Street S.E.
Salem, OR 97302

Donation of items may be made at:

1755 13th Street S.E.
Salem, OR 97302

To volunteer, call:


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