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Longtime Estacada resident Teri Gant, who founded the Father's Heart Street Ministry in Oregon City, died in the hospital on Jan. 1 from complications of pneumonia and the flu virus. She was 68.


Longtime Estacada resident Teri Gant, who founded the Father's Heart Street Ministry in Oregon City, died in the hospital on Jan. 1 from complications of pneumonia and the flu virus. She was 68.

PHOTO COURTESY: GINA WITHROW - Teri Gant started the Father's Heart Street Ministry out of the back of her car at the Blanchet House in downtown Portland.Gant is remembered as a staunch advocate for the less fortunate who have increasingly been gentrified out of Portland to suburbs like Oregon City in Clackamas County. A celebration of her Teri Gantlife will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at New Hope Community Church, 11731 S.E. Stevens Road, Happy Valley.

"She had an impact on getting hundreds of people out of homelessness," said Gant's husband, Marty. "She was a very strong woman of God."

"Teri touched a lot of lives, and it will be reflected in her service, I guarantee," said Michael Oliver, operations manager at Father's Heart.

In late 1999-early 2000, Gant founded the Father's Heart Street Ministry after searching for her late brother, who at the time was suffering from an addiction and was homeless. The ministry was started out of her garage, and she would drive meals and supplies for surviving outdoors to the Blanchet House in downtown Portland.

Father's Heart's name comes from Gant's biblical inspiration and one of her favorite passages from the Book of Matthew: "When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me drink. When I was naked, you clothed me."

"It is the mission of this ministry to help anyone who is in need," Gant wrote in a Father's Heart brochure. "Regardless of age, race, gender or religious preference, we want to be a helping hand, as well as a guiding hand for all those we serve."

Starting around 2003, for about three years, she got a warehouse on Clackamas' Highway 212-224 to hold all of the donations of food, clothing and sleeping bags that the Father's Heart Street Ministry was receiving.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Yolanda 'Yo!' Adamson and Timothy Watson remember how Tari Gant helped them through the Father's Heart Street Ministry. In the background are mattresses for the temporary shelter in Oregon City.Between approximately 2006 and 2011, Father's Heart Street Ministry relocated on Southeast 82nd Avenue near the Mattress Warehouse, where they started to facilitate meal service for the homeless.

PHOTO COURTESY: GINA WITHROW - Marty and Tari Gant are pictured in the late 1970s or early 1980s.When the ministry lost its lease on the 82nd Avenue property, it relocated to its current location in Oregon City at 603 12th St. It serves as a soup kitchen, clothing exchange, showering facility and public internet access point on most weekdays. Dr. Bob Sayson and his "Good News" medical staff offer heath screenings and prescriptions weekly. As an occasional 24-hour emergency warming shelter, Father's Heart houses up to 49 people overnight when the temperatures drop below freezing.

Wherever the ministry went, Gant battled a perception that the homeless population followed.

"Teri helped educate people that this is a chronic problem throughout the metro area," Marty Gant said. "This isn't a Father's Heart problem; it's a human problem."

Yolanda "Yo!" Adamson and Timothy Watson are among the many people whom Gant has helped.

"When we sit down for lunch, Teri always makes it a point to walk around to everyone and tell us why she was doing this."

After being longtime clients, Watson and Adamson now volunteer to help connect other clients with services that help people find housing and employment.

"We have to carry on what she started here," Adamson said.

Longtime volunteers agree that Gant and Father's Heart provide an amazing testament to what one person can achieve.

"Teri's death is a shock to all of us, but what a legacy she's left," said Patti Clar, Father's Heart volunteer.

"Teri was the heart of Father's Heart," said Patty Deich, a volunteer at the street-ministry offices in Oregon City.

What is the future of Father's Heart without its founder?

"I can't answer that question without being on my knees for a long time," Marty Gant said. "We have no plans to do anything different than what we're doing, and we have staff in place."

Marty and Tari Gant both got sick on the Wednesday before Christmas; while Marti was recovering, Tari resisted the idea of going to see a doctor during the holidays, which was in character for her, he said.

"Finally, when she was feeling short of breath early on Christmas morning, I took her to urgent care," Marty Gant said. "She was on life support by Monday morning, the 26th. She had pneumonia and the flu virus, and the flu was what really did it. Through all of this she had a couple of bad strokes."

Gant was born on Dec. 1, 1948, as Theresa Marie Ortiz to Manuel and Katherine (Perea) Ortiz. She was a small child when the family moved to the Portland area.

Right after graduating from Sunset High School, Gant married Jimmy Shoop, who became a Clackamas County deputy and was killed in the line of duty by a drunken driver in 1981. They had three children before divorcing.

On Jan. 5, 1980, Gant married Marty Gant in Oregon City. They made their home in Estacada where they raised their seven children. Besides a passion for getting people off the streets, Gant enjoyed garage sales, antiquing and spending time with her husband.

In addition to her husband, survivors include: her son, Troy Shoop of Estacada; daughter, Gina (Max) Withrow of Anchorage, Alaska; son, Aaron (Charlotte) Gant of Estacada; son, Ryan (Amanda) Shoop of Gladstone; daughter, Katie (Gabe) Lee-Huston of Woodland, Washington; daughter, Miranda Gant of Portland; daughter, Breanne Gant of Portland; 19 grandchildren; brother, Billy Benson of Cornelius; sister, Pat Rodriguez of Forest Grove; sister, Tina Treanor of Portland; and sister Sylvia D'Elena of Coos Bay.

Although Gant was on Medicare, Gant's children set up a crowd-funding page to cover the additional expenses of her illness: gofundme.com/teri-gant-recovery-fund. Any leftover donations to the fund will go to the Father's Heart Street Ministry.

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