PACS Award banquet raises awareness – and funds – to help needy families

Discover why this year’s keynote speaker, a former Oregon legislator, enthusiastically supports this cause …

The silent auction room sees lots of bidding action, moments before this part of the PACS Awards Banquet concludes.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The ninth annual Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS) Awards Banquet attracted its largest number of attendees when it convened on October 6 at the Portland Airport Embassy Suites Hotel.

While walking around the silent auction before the dinner, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz was keeping an eye on bid sheets of items she was interested in.

Another guest pointed out the City politician to his friend and quietly asked, “She says she’s not running for re-election, I wonder why she’s here?”

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz checks on her bids in the silent auction.

So, East Portland News put the question to Commissioner Fritz. “You’re so right. I’m not running for any office, ever again!

“I’m here because this is a wonderful community organization, and I’m proud to support it!” Fritz said with a big smile. “This is not my first year here; I think I’ve been here every year since I first found out about all the good that PACS does here in outer East Portland – back before I first ran for office.”

Offering a food for the hungry, clothing to those in need, and medical care for those without insurance, are only parts of what PACS offers, Fritz observed. “The most importing thing they offer is respect. They provide respect and hope, for those who need it most.”

Welcoming guests to the annual event is PACS Executive Director Paul Cole.

PACS Executive Director Paul Cole invited guests to be seated for dinner, and welcomed the group. “Thank you for being part of our ninth event. This is the largest dinner we’ve had thus far. Last year we had about 335 people, and we have 390 reserved to be here tonight.”

Manager of PACS store operations Tim Zollbrecht offered the prayer of blessing for the meal; then servers began delivering a gourmet vegetarian meal for attendees.

This “sold out” PACS Awards Banquet participants begin dinner.

As attendees tucked into their dinners, PACS Development Associate Brian Vistaunet gave the context for the dinner.

“This is our major fund-raising event of the year,” Vistaunet said. “Last year’s dinner raised about $88,000; we hope to better that amount this year. The funds raised are crucial to our ability to continue to serve families with health care and the food pantry every year.”

The String Quartet from Portland Adventist String Orchestra serenades the diners.

More than just the money, Vistaunet added, “It helps to raise awareness about PA CS, and informs participants how they can get involved and help struggling families in the community, through our organization.

“And, each year, we recognize a couple of people who have made an exceptional difference to the organization; this year it’s John Korb. He’s been on the Board for years, and was the Board Chair, and helped guide the process of growth, for several years.”

The dinner’s keynote speaker, former Speaker Oregon House of Representatives Lynn Snodgrass, chats with friends.

Following dinner, before former Speaker Oregon House of Representatives Lynn Snodgrass presented the keynote address, she confided to East Portland News why she’d agreed to address the gathering.

“My husband [Drake Snodgrass, of Drake’s 7 Dees Nursery] and I are here to support their mission. After seeing the work they do, I was incredibly impressed with the organization itself.

“Additionally, I was impressed with the culture of the organization, and how they can help people in so many different ‘stages of need’.  What they are able to do, with what they have, is remarkable. It’s a blessing; it is a golden nugget in our community.”

Longtime PACS Board member, and Executive Director of the Adventist Health Foundation, John Korb accepts the organization’s highest award from PACS Executive Director Paul Cole.

John Korb  is a member of the Board for Portland and for community services, and  after receiving his award, Korb told East Portland News, “It is a real honor for me to receive the PACS Barbara Nelson Award.

“Through the generous donations received, and the efforts of volunteers, PACS has grown into an organization which is an indispensable part of the social service framework of outer East Portland,” Korb said. “We’re just really grateful for how we can serve the community.”

To learn more about the PACS Food Pantry, Medical Clinic, and Thrift Store – and how you can support their mission to serve the mid-County community – see their website: CLICK HERE. Or, visit their thrift store in the Gateway District at 11020 NE Halsey Street.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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