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Volunteers provide a uniform message of goodwill

Local folks and military personnel turn out to help local family during medical crisis


Photo Credit: OUTDOOR PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Sgt. 1st Class U.S. Army Phillip Davis, right, gives direction to high school recruits as they clean up yard debris at the home of Jane Woodin, whose 12-year-old son Scott Baisden was diagnosed with bone cancer earlier this fall. Woodin, who plans to put the house up for sale, has moved to a two-bedroom apartment with her three children due to the cost of Scotts medical care.

It’s a sure bet when a call goes out to help a neighbor, folks around here turn out in spades.

But in one such recent effort, the army of volunteers also included the U.S. Army.

Two days before Christmas, Gresham recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Davis mustered a dozen newly and soon-to-be-enlisted local high school seniors to provide muscle for a home improvement project.

“The family we are assisting has a child with a serious form of cancer,” Davis said. “They are having to sell their house and downgrade to a smaller place to be able to afford their growing medical debt. I want these young men to see that there’s more to being a soldier than just being a soldier. It’s also going out in the community and making a difference.”

Clad in shorts, hoodies and tennis shoes on a cold winter’s day, the future soldiers shoveled dirt, pressure washed landscaping stones and dug out overgrown vegetation.

The idea was to spruce up curb appeal for single mom and homeowner Jane Woodin, whose 12-year-old son, Scott Baisden, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) earlier this fall.

Woodin is leaving the house in southwest Gresham after 30 years in favor of a two-bedroom apartment with her three teenagers in order to curtail expenses.

While Davis’ charges dug into the dirty work, an equally impressive number of volunteers marked six consecutive days of cleaning, maintenance and repair on the home in preparation for a "for sale" sign shortly after New Year’s. Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Jordan Brown, 18, a senior at Centennial High School, helps with cleanup efforts Tuesday, Dec. 23, in Gresham. Brown is a new recruit who will join the Army after graduation this spring.

The effort is led by Angie and R.J. Turner, whose son played football with Scott through the Gresham Youth Football Association (GYFA).

Via email, the Turners alerted coaches and players’ families through GYFA and Gresham Little League to the Baisden family’s plight and were surprised when labor for much of the heavy repair was donated by players’ parents.

“I didn’t know so many of the people we knew had those skills,” Angie said. “It’s been a little overwhelming, but our goal is to make sure (Jane) can sell the house for top dollar and get as much money as she can to help with medical expenses.”

Army Recruiter Davis, who lives in Gresham, was appreciative of the opportunity to aid a neighbor, especially during the holiday season.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Sgt. 1st Class U.S. Army Phillip Davis, right, smiles as he talks about new recruits taking part in a community service project to help out a family in southwest Gresham Tuesday, Dec. 23. “Being that it’s during Christmas, I felt an obligation not only because of the time of year, but also because of what we do, to assist this family any way we could,” Davis said. “Being a soldier is also serving your community, and that’s what these young men are getting an opportunity to do here.”

The message wasn’t lost on Jordan Brown, a senior at Centennial High School, who will ship out for Army boot camp after graduation.

“I like helping people, and I’m not doing anything right now,” Brown said. “It feels good to give back. This has inspired me to do more.”

Hear what Sgt. 1st Class Davis and his new recruits had to say about their community service project in a short video produced by Outlook photographer Troy Wayrynen.

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