Church group spruces up Lents area public school

From digging an educational garden, to painting and setting up a free “school supplies store” – see what a difference this large group of volunteers made one Saturday morning at Kelly Elementary School …

Christine Rhoney, SUN site manager for Kelly Elementary School, shows the school supplies they’ve put out at their “free store” to help needy kids.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the school year gets underway, we are pleased to see the community pitching in to help the students and teachers get off to a good start.

In the Lents Neighborhood, Kelly Elementary School got a boost on September 8 from about 75 volunteers from Imago Dei Community, a Christian church of 1,400 members that meets at Franklin High School.

“All I can say is ‘whoopee’!” exclaims Kelly’s principal, Sharon Allen. She apologizes for her exuberance; we ask why she’s excited. “From painting, to cleaning and trimming, these volunteers are doing our school a world of good today.”

Trimming bushes around the school are Imago Dei Community members Patrick Wilson, Amber Pierce, and Diane Galvez.

Inside the school, we are introduced to JJ Bjordahl, an organizer of the event. He tells us their group selected Kelly school as part of their “Love Portland” project. “Helping the community is part of the mission of our Community.”

In Kelly’s gym, Christine Rhoney, SUN site manager for Kelly Elementary School, tells us more about the project.

“We partnered with Imago Dei Community last year,” she explains. They helped us put on an end-of-school picnic at Blue Lake Park. They wanted Kelly to be one of the schools they helped this year.”

The front of the gym has been turned into a “store” of kids clothing and school supplies – to outfit at least 200 kids.

“This is awesome! Look at all these school supplies they’ve donated,” points out Rhoney. “This ‘free store’ is so necessary in our community; we’re in a high poverty area. It is very difficult for families to buy supplies for students. This clothing and these supplies will really help our students get off to a good start.”

Lisa Armour applies needed paint at the school’s doorway.

SUN Schools, Rhoney tells us, provide resources and referrals for families in their service area. “We’re like the community social worker. We connect families with organizations and agencies throughout the community, to enhance the programs we have here at the school.”

Many Imago Dei Community volunteers labor long and hard to build and fence an educational garden at Kelly School.

As if the cleaning, digging, pruning, and school supply donation wasn’t enough, the group also hosted a barbecue for families, as they came in to visit the free store.

“Today is a very good day at Kelly School,” summarizes Principal Allen.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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