Summerfield Women's Golf Club comes up with big bucks again
Tears and cheers were part of the Aug. 11 potluck dinner celebrating another successful Summerfield Women's Golf Club charity golf tournament and silent auction.
For the third year in a row, club members turned over a check for nearly $10,000 to Tigard's Good Neighbor Center, which offers housing and social services to homeless people.
Two former Good Neighbor Center residents were invited to the dinner to tell their personal stories of how their lives were turned around by the program and how they went from barely surviving to thriving.
Sandy Brewer, golf club president and chairwoman of the event, told the crowd, "It's been a wonderful success. It's a success because of all of you - every single one of you."
Brewer presented a check for $9,500 to Sydney Webb, executive director of the Good Neighbor Center, who said she had just learned that the federal government was providing $50,000 less to the center this year.
"You have touched a lot of lives," Webb told the crowd. "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is a lot of money."
A former resident, Michelle Bashaw-Reber, talked about the downward financial spiral that she got caught up in: She and her fiancé were both working but couldn't keep up financially.
"I was pregnant, we had borrowed from friends and neighbors, my fiancé's parents have limited resources, my parents are alcoholics, my brother is an ex-con with a record of four violent felonies - we couldn't get a financial foothold."
Bashaw-Reber had reservations about moving into the shelter but decided it sounded better than a mat on an open gym floor in a church.
"At the center, I had my own room and a place for my son," she said. "I got classes and education. They help you with domestic violence issues if you need it, housing, getting a bank account and so much else. If it wasn't for the Good Neighbor Center, I wouldn't have my family right now."
Sitting back down, the proud mom showed other people at the table a photo of her adorable son while the other speaker rose to talk.
Juan Carlos said he moved here from Mexico at the age of 12 and later got married, had a son and daughter and then split up with his American wife.
"I was homeless," he said. "I lost my daughter to state custody and was sleeping with my son in my car. I was worried about a cop coming along and seeing us and taking my son.
'When I talked to my daughter, she would say, 'Daddy, when are you coming to get me?' My son kept asking, 'What's going to happen to us?''
In 2005 Carlos moved into the Good Neighbor Center, and he also met Sonia.
"My first day at the Good Neighbor Center, I cried and said, 'This is not me,' and Sonia said, 'This is the only way to get your children.' I cried all night but the next day, I thought, Thank God I have a place to stay.
"I didn't have to worry about someone stealing my car or shooting me. Two months later, my dream came true. I got my daughter back, I was working at a restaurant and was promoted to chef, and I took first place in a competition in California. I even found a little house to buy."
And bigger rewards were still in his future: "Three months ago, I opened my own restaurant, JJ Delisioso Pastas," said Carlos, and everyone in the room burst into applause. "I want to thank the Good Neighbor Center for everything they did for me."
The golf club's charity tournaments have been held for nearly 20 years, but the silent auction was added more recently. While the golf tournament was limited to Summerfield golfers, the public was encouraged to check out the silent auction, held in the Clubhouse, and bid on items.
Brewer said that two years ago, she thought the event might raise $2,500 and was as astounded as Webb when it raised $10,000, a feat that was repeated last year.
The golf club has traditionally supported one charity for only two years in a row, but the board voted this year to make an exception and support the Good Neighbor Center one more time.
"The vote was unanimous," Brewer said. "We know it is such a great charity."
The Good Neighbor Center relies on donations from the community for its entire meal program for residents and also accepts donations of cash and household items. For more information, call 503-443-6084.
JJ Delisioso Pastas, a brightly colored Italian restaurant with a Latin flair, is located at 607 S.E. Morrison in Portland.