Breakfast banquet raises both awareness and funds for senior cente

Although it’s an annual event, see why this, the first Pancake Breakfast held by the Thelma Skelton “Loaves and Fishes” Center at their new location, was important to their continued success ‚Ķ

Joie Xiali, Lisa and Hank Barnett enjoy a great, hot breakfast on a rainy, wintery day – and, at the same time, support the agency that helps their parents by giving them hot meals.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The hundreds of individuals, couples, and entire families who braved the cold, driven rain along SE Milwaukie Avenue were rewarded with a hot, toothsome breakfast a not long ago.

Guests kept the volunteers at the Thelma Skelton Loaves and Fishes Center busy as they served up Pancake Breakfast at the senior center in Brooklyn. On the menu were pancakes, biscuits with sausage gravy, ham, and eggs. Second helpings were offered to extra hungry diners.

Volunteers William Benseler, Colette Livermore, and Mike James work the grill and serving line, cooking up fresh hot breakfasts.

We talked with the Barnett family as they enjoyed a Saturday morning family breakfast. Their daughter, Joie Xiali, seemed delighted by her pancakes and syrup. Her parents, Lisa and Hank ordered the full breakfast.

“It’s a good breakfast, and a great cause,” said Lisa. “My parents are served by this ‘Meals on Wheels’ center. We’re happy to support them, because they do so much good in the community.”

Drivers deliver food, and compassion
Hank explained that Lisa’s parents can’t easily go shopping anymore. “And, it’s difficult for them to cook. More than that, they really appreciate the human contact. They’ve gotten to know the volunteers who deliver the meals. It’s often the highlight of their day.”

Meals on Wheels coordinator Merna Rabetoy shows off a craft item she’s selling to raise additional funds for the Brooklyn senior center.

First event in new location
Linda James, center manager, smiled broadly as she watched the center’s volunteers scurry about, serving the steady stream of breakfast patrons.

It was midmorning when we visited. James commented, “We’ve already served a couple of hundred people. The response has been awesome; we’re thrilled with the community support we’ve received.”

This center opened in February, James told us. “This Pancake Breakfast is our annual fund raising event. We did it when we were housed at the Moreland church. It is always scheduled for the first Saturday in November.”

There are two reasons behind their annual fundraising effort services, Janes said: “One is to raise funds to provide seniors with meals, the other is to raise community awareness about the work we do.”

Helps senior citizens stay at home
Loaves and Fishes centers serve seniors who need food service at home, because they find it difficult to shop for groceries and cook for themselves. Thus, James commented, it allows them to stay in their homes with a better quality of life.

The Thelma Skelton Center serves about 175 meals, Monday through Friday. Drivers deliver more of the prepared, hot meals to seniors’ homes.

Volunteers needed
“There are only three staff members at the center. “All the other workers here are volunteers. We love and appreciate our volunteers,” James related. “We are always looking for volunteers.”

If you’d like to help, the Brooklyn-based center needs more volunteer drivers who are willing to deliver the meals, and spend a few moments brightening a senior’s day. “We have 13 routes every day, for each day of the work week. Plus, we need about six volunteers here every day to dish up and package the meals to go out. Volunteers also serve lunch to those seniors who can come into our center for lunch.”

To volunteer, or find out more, call James at (503) 988-6334 or e-mail her at

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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