If you need money, start running. Or walking.
That's been Ralph Brown's motto for decades, since his legs first began bringing in money for the Oregon Road Runners Club, Cornelius Kids athletic programs, the Lions Club and, last year, homeless shelters — all of which organized fundraising runs/walks to help their cause.
"People just like to go out and be active," Brown said, "to have exercise and fun."
Not surprisingly, when Brown learned the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center needed new kitchen appliances, he had an idea of how to raise money.
The result is a Summer Solstice 5K, which will feature a 5K run/walk on the new B Street Trail loop at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, with a 1K Walk for less hardy folks at 6:15 p.m. (For details, see info at end of story.)
Prizes, competition, friends and the fact that it takes only an hour or two are all part of what Brown hopes will draw people to the event.
The money will help the FGSCC buy new equipment to help rehabilitate its kitchen. The overall project is funded primarily by the federal government through a $325,000 Community Development Block Grant, which set aside $60,000 for "affixed heavy kitchen equipment," such as a walk-in freezer, range, sinks and more. But $60,000 won't cover all those appliances unless they're low quality, said FGSCC Executive Director Raean Johnston. So the center has been looking for other funding.
Johnston said some of the board of directors plan to run (or walk) next Tuesday, perhaps with spouses, and so does she. But she'd like to see the whole community come together to support a space that serves seniors and many more.
Serving the community
According to the block grant application, the 2010 U.S. Census showed Forest Grove's 60 and older population had grown by 23.5 percent (3,535 people) since 2000, which was faster than the city's overall population growth.
FGSCC records show that it served 2,017 seniors and community members during Fiscal Year 2015-16, of whom 1,680 (83 percent) had moderate to low incomes.
Nearly 400 seniors (unduplicated) get lunch each weekday through the Loaves and Fishes/Meals on Wheels program which is run out of the FGSCC, including about 200 fragile seniors who get home-delivered meals. The others gather in the morning for free coffee, snacks and companionship, and then again for a lunch that requests (not requires) a $3 donation.
But kitchen use is not limited to seniors. A group of teenagers uses it to cook a meal for homeless people once a month. Farmers Market vendors use it to cook jam, Filipino and Mexican food every week. Families who rent out the main hall for quinceañeras (15th birthday parties for girls), a Latino custom) or first baptism celebrations sometimes use the kitchen as well, all paying $25 an hour to do so.
"Kitchen use helps pay the bills," said Johnston, who notes "it's picked up this year."
Beyond kitchen use, the center rents out its dining hall to Rotary, Habitat for Humanity and other groups to use for auctions. And the last Friday of every month the Oregon Food Bank hands out food boxes to an average of 115 local homeless people.
But now it's the center that needs help.
45 years old
The current appliances were installed in 1972 when the center was built, Johnston said, and are approaching the end of their life spans. A breakdown of any major appliance could interrupt services and make it more difficult to keep seniors living independently in their homes.
Looking for more money, the FGSCC successfully applied to the city and Metro for two Community Enhancement Project awards — $7,000 in 2016 for a dishwasher and $6,598 in 2017 for a gas range.
Seniors even chipped in through the center's "Be the Change" campaign, which encouraged them to donate their "spare change" jars and has so far raised $290.88, with one jar alone holding $47.94, said Johnston.
It's still not enough.
In addition to a new oven, the kitchen still needs grills and other things like regular dishes, pots and pans, said Adam Kolb, vice president of the FGSCC Board of Directors.
Kolb, a member of Sonrise Church Forest Grove, began volunteering at the FGSCC three years ago after Sonrise "adopted" it. He delivers hot meals to homebound seniors and has gotten to know others at the center.
"Sometimes it's almost like reaching out to another culture," said the 41-year-old. "My age group — we're into computers, into electronics, texting. And seniors aren't that way ... They're a lot more engaging. They care about what's going on in your life. You don't always get that with your own age group."
Kolb said he'll be too busy helping out with logistics to run himself. But he'll encourage his fellow parishioners to participate. So far, only a few people have signed up to run.
"Our pre-registration hasn't gone as well as we hoped," said Kolb, who has no one else to count on right now except "the people that show up on the day of."
Summer Solstice 5K Fundraiser
When: Tuesday, June 20, 7 p.m. (6:15 p.m. for 1K) with hot dogs following from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Where: Course starts at the Forest Grove School District Building, 1728 Main St., and will follow the B Street Trail loop
Entrance Fee: Donation (your choice of how much)
Register: At cudatiming.com or from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at start site before the run
Sponsor: Forest Grove Senior & Community Center board of directors
For more information: Call 503-357-2021
to clean B Street
Trail loop Monday
When: 3:30 p.m. Monday,
Where: Meet at the corner
of Elm Street and Highway 47
Contact: Raean Johnston