Brentwood-Darlington fund-raiser benefits teen parents

by: Elizabeth Ussher Groff A tea fundraiser at Mehri’s Bakery & Deli on S.E. 52nd brought friends and food lovers together. From left, Mary Nelson, Marilyn Gordon, Lorraine Hopper, and Patti Sherman – PSU college friends of Mehri for 37 years, patronize her café, and support Merhi’s many fundraisers for charities.

Friendships made during the exciting and challenging times of attending college can be enduring - especially if there is an ingredient that keeps the friendship fires burning.

Evidently, one of those ingredients is food.

On one Sunday afternoon in May, the mix of friendship and food was almost palpable at Mehri's Bakery and Deli, on S.E. 52nd at Bybee Boulevard. It was a fundraiser which the proprietor, Mehri herself, was hosting for Madonna's Center - a nonprofit organization which provides support services for teens during pregnancy, continuing until their children are three years old.

In one corner of the restaurant's north room, four women who have known Mehri for thirty-seven years ate miniature pastries and sipped tea. When asked what had kept them close friends all of these years, one answered 'Eating!' After the peals of laughter and exclamations of agreement died down, the story came out.

'We have been friends with Mehri since we were all nineteen-year-old students at Portland State University,' the four agreed. They had maintained their friendship through sharing in each other's lives, but also in regularly patronizing Mehri's restaurant. 'We love Mehri and her food, and eat here regularly.'

A dozen other women at the tea concurred. Eyes lit up when describing Mehri's homemade entrees and desserts.

While fabulous food may have been a big incentive for attending this particular tea, these women were also there to support the nonprofit Madonna's Center, which is located nearby at 13800 S.E. Webster Road in Milwaukie. Many also expressed respect for the frequent charitable fundraisers hosted by Mehri.

In addition to the $200 raised by the tea, the event brought in donations of six grocery bags of baby diapers, newborn clothes, and baby food.

Valerie Aschbacher, Board President of Madonna's Center, commented to THE BEE that the donation of baby items had come just in time.

'We had a record number of twenty-seven requests this past week, and we ran out of diaper wipes. When teen parents don't have diaper wipes or diapers, they use paper towels. When they run out of both, they finally call us.'

'Our fiscal year ends on June 30th, and we are always struggling to keep up with the growing needs for assistance at this time of year. In the month of May we give our volunteer staff a break from perpetual fundraising, and ask others in the community to host (chair) a tea, for the benefit of the teen parents we serve all year long. So, it is a real gift for someone to offer to host an event, as Mehri did - it's kind of like a community baby shower.'

Aschbacher added, 'The teen parents we serve are truly trying to make a better life for themselves and their children amidst tremendous odds. They are extremely grateful and humbly appreciative. Because of the unconditional support they receive, many of them say they are going to do the same thing for someone else someday, when they are in a position to do so.'

To chair a tea yourself, or to help with other fundraising events, contact Madonna's Center Outreach Office at 503/653-1595 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For information on the organization, go online to: .