One man’s dream results in a Mt. Scott Thanksgiving feast

Find out what he, and a score of volunteers, accomplished that brought the community together on Thanksgiving Day …

Karen, their son Will, and Greg MacKnight help check in guests at the Mt. Scott Thanksgiving Day dinner reception table.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Well-to-do neighbors dined with others down on their luck, at a Thanksgiving Day dinner held at the Mt. Scott Community Center on November 25.

Mary Lou Hittner’s family and relatives manned the serving line, serving up a complete dinner – including turkey, ham, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, and greens. “We’re all helping out the dinner’s organizer, because our family has been so blessed.”

Hittner pointed to a handsome couple, Carol and Roberto Selva, who scurried about, making sure the celebration went smoothly.

Event organizers Carol and Roberto Selva say they’re already planning next year’s community Thanksgiving dinner.

Maureen, Hannah,and Rachel Hittner serve up the meal with their aunt, Julie Young.

“I’ve been dreaming about doing something like this for the last seven years,” Roberto Selva confided. “I brought the idea up to a group of friends and at Lifehouse Church, to which we belong. The dream turned into an idea, and that idea has snowballed into this huge, fabulous event.

“The idea was to bring in people from different cultures, and different backgrounds,” Selva continued. “I’m proud to live here in Mt. Scott/Arleta. The idea is, I guess, taking care of our immediate community.”

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, a group of volunteers trekked to the Oregon Culinary Institute. “Under the supervision of our friend, Chef Jeff Hobson, we spent a good five hours preparing the food, using the finest ingredients and the greatest care. Thanks to his help, I’ll tell you, the food tastes delicious,” the organizer smiled.

The mother and the grandmother of many of the event’s volunteers, Mary Lou Hittner, serves dinner to Tom Vice, pastor of Woodstock’s Lifehouse Church, the main sponsoring organization.

Selva’s list of “thank you’s” filled a wall-sized banner hung on the community center’s main room wall. “The support of the Lifehouse Church faith community – we meet here on Sundays – including Pastor Tom Vice, really helped make this work.” Financial support was received from Southeast Portland business and neighborhood associations.

Gary Russell returned to his family at one of the decorated tables, with desserts in hand from an ever-replenished selection. “I’m a neighbor; I live close by. We got a flyer and came; this is tremendous. Learning about the young man who put this all together, I think it is great to see someone’s vision coming to pass.

“It’s a real blessing to the neighborhood. It brings a lot of folks that don’t necessarily know each other. This gets people out of their houses, coming together – and that truly creates a greater sense of community.”

Thanksgiving Day diners, from all walks of life, come together for a meal, and for community, in the Mt. Scott Community Center hall.

We asked Selva, now that he’s accomplished his vision, about Thanksgiving Days to come. He replied, “I started off thinking about this as a one-time thing. But, looking around, I’m feeling the good vibe, and I just love it. So we’re planning to do it again next year.”

Carol, his wife, added, “We’ve already written a Neighborhood Small Grant program application for Southeast Uplift, to do this again next year. We have our fingers crossed!”

To learn more about the primary sponsor, Lifehouse Church, visit their website: CLICK HERE:

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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