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Thanksgiving eve dinner helps teen center

Join the spaghetti feed on Nov. 21


by: SUBMITTED - Volunteers helped serve the Night Before Thanksgiving dinner last year. Back row: Brian Pearce, Dave Johnson, Doug Berggren, Kirk Becker, Steve Pene. Third Row: Misty Pene, Heather Berggren, Shannon Johnson, Pam Pearce, Claire Becker and Brenda Maxwell. Second row: Graham Pearce, Mitch Johnson, Brayden Pene, Connor Berggren, Zeb Becker and Gus Becker. First row: Clint Berggren, Andrew Johnson, Ellie Pearce, Holly Pearce, Brooke Pene, Cooper Berggren and Mackenna Koppler. Each year, West Linn resident Pam Pearce and her mother, Judy Chown, from Lake Oswego, invite the entire community to their dinner table.

The mother-daughter duo hosts the annual Night Before Thanksgiving feast in an effort to bring families, neighbors and friends together for the holidays while raising funds for charity.

“I like to pull people together, and I enjoy helping and serving,” Pearce said, noting she is trying to create a community tradition with the event. “And I like to give other people avenues to help. It feels good.”

Pearce is no stranger to charitable work. By day, she is a volunteer coordinator for the Brian Grant Foundation, which raises awareness and supports people with Parkinson’s disease. She is also a part-time employee at the Portland Leadership Foundation.

This year marks the fourth annual Night Before Thanksgiving feast, which will take place Nov. 21 at the West Linn Adult Community Center. The event will feature a spaghetti dinner with garlic bread, salad, dessert and drinks in a benefit for The Summit teen center, which opened to the West Linn Community on Oct. 8.

The Summit is funded by Willamette Christian Church and is operated by the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette. The church also uses the space for its middle school program on Sundays, but the teen center is nonreligious. The Summit is open every school day from 4 to 6 p.m. and is a drop-in center for middle school kids to hang out and socialize.

“The Summit is brand new and it’s the first time our community has had a youth center,” Pearce said, mentioning her eighth-grade son and sixth-grade daughter at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.

“A lot of the middle-schoolers like to hang out in that (Cascade Summit) shopping center. The teen center gives them a place to hang out. I want it to be successful and I want the community to use it and think about it as a healthy, safe option for teens,” Pearce said.

Last year, about 200 people sat around the Night Before Thanksgiving dinner table together and raised approximately $2,000 for the Brian Grant Foundation. In previous years, the event benefited a local youth program and the West Linn Food Pantry.

Pearce said the event volunteers — a team of about eight local families — bus tables, serve and cook in the kitchen each year. Now in its fourth year, the charitable team is “getting a rhythm in the kitchen,” she said.

“It’s just a bunch of families donating time and resources and the charity gets all the money,” Pearce said. “Everyone feels great about volunteering and it’s fun. The families are excited to come together and host the event each year.

“I love bringing people together.”

The fourth annual Night Before Thanksgiving fundraiser will take place Nov. 21 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the West Linn Adult Community Center, 1180 Rosemont Road, West Linn. Suggested donation is $12 per adult, $5 per child. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit The Summit teen center.