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Action Center will get major boost

Ford Foundation workers promise to renovate, re-equip the center


The Sandy Community Action Center, even though it doesn’t have its longtime director Rita Ezard, will move ahead and continue to serve the community’s needs, said board chairwoman Kate Holleran.

A competent and qualified volunteer has been put in charge as an interim director. Shirley Dueber has been keeping the center’s programs active since she was asked to temporarily step into the director’s shoes.

But that’s not all that brings a smile to the faces of center volunteers.

At a recent board meeting, area volunteers with the Ford Foundation announced that they were taking on the Action Center as their community service project. Two of the volunteers, Dawn Loomis and David Snider, made a presentation to the board describing their plan.

The group of about two dozen, who are calling their leadership group the “Highway to Hood,” are planning to remodel and repaint the aging facility, adding more shelves to store food and seasonal items as well as shelves to display items in the store and new clothing racks.

“Most of our clothing racks are held together with duct tape or packing tape,” Dueber said.

They’ll also do everything possible to make the kitchen certifiable and equip a laundry room, but that will require more money for the equipment.

The laundry equipment is to help make items more saleable, especially items that are displayed inside the relatively new “Shop of Hidden Treasures,” a separate room inside the Action Center.

“(The Ford Foundation) has a fantastic plan for the Action Center,” Dueber said. “And we love it.”

Holleran also was elated with the plan as presented by the Highway to Hood group of local volunteers. She’s hoping that the renovation will help the center meet the needs of more local families.

“We are committed to delivering food services to our community,” Holleran said. “And that’s what I want the community to know. We’re hoping to do it as well or better in the future.”

Programs that will continue out of the Action Center include monthly food boxes for senior citizens on limited income along with vouchers to spend on clothing in the center’s store.

The third Thursday of each month is an important day at the center because that’s when the large community baskets and extra fresh food are distributed for the unheard of price of $1.25 to qualifying families.

The second Thursday is another banner day at the center because that’s when senior citizens receive their supplemental boxes of food.

Other programs include the connection with Oregon Heat, which is a grant that gives qualifying families a break on their power bills at PGE.

For homeless families and individuals, the center has sleeping bags, blankets, clothing and food. And the St. Vincent de Paul bus comes by every Wednesday to serve large hot lunches.

Center volunteers say they are understaffed and are asking for additional volunteer help from the community.

Dueber was overjoyed to announce that working conditions at the center and the rewards of that work must be good because not even one volunteer resigned when Ezard was relieved of her duties.

“All of our volunteers are so dedicated that there never was a question,” Dueber said “They all stayed here to keep the center open. It’s too important to the people we serve.”

But volunteers are still needed at the center. Dueber can use the assistance of volunteers at any time any day the center is open. She’ll take that assistance whenever people are available.

Dueber said she has retired three times from previous careers, but she is willing to work in this job temporarily — even though it has many responsibilities.

After a new director is hired, in approximately four months, she will retire again — this time from the staff of the center. But she’ll retire to her previous vocation as a volunteer for SCAC.

To volunteer one hour a week or more on any day the center is open, call Dueber at 503-668-4746.