‘Harvest Dinner’ supports café in former drug house

Look here – and see what’s happening at the once illegal-drug-pushing “Drive-thru Wake-Up Deli”, on SE Division Street …

Guests fill the Tabor Commons’ back and side patios for its first “Harvest Sunday Supper and Silent Auction”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A lot has happened at the onetime gas station turned illegal drug distribution center, which was then called “Drive-thru Wake-Up Deli”. It was shuttered in 2006 – mostly due to the diligence of dedicated volunteers.

> See 2010 our story, with links to East Portland News’ ongoing coverage: “Journey completed: From crime to “Café au Play” at Tabor Commons”: CLICK HERE.

Café au Play Executive Director Kristen Heying talks with the nonprofit’s President Josh Lighthipe, and Chef Cory Schreiber with Art Institute of Portland.

In 2010, the property at 5633 S.E. Division Street – right across from Atkinson Elementary School, and near Franklin High – opened as the Tabor Commons’ Community Center.

“‘Tabor Commons’ is the space, and ‘Café au Play’ is the tenant,” explained Josh Lighthipe, President of the Board of nonprofit Café au Play.

“Our board members and scores of volunteers have been doing the site improvements; we’ve got a lot ‘sweat equity’ in this place,” added Lighthipe.

Guests Vanessa Hammer and Louie Herr look browse the Silent Auction.

He said the mission of the café has been to develop it into what he calls a “third place” to be. “It’s not home, not work or school – but a family-friendly place you can go and feel at home outside of your home. We host many meetings, whether or not the groups buy food or beverages from the café.”

To support their ongoing work, Lighthipe recounted how they created their first annual “Harvest Sunday Supper and Silent Auction” at the site, held on the beautiful evening of September 16. “The funds we raised here will help us be able to keep improving the space, and providing service to the community.”

The event sold out, with 140 folks coming to enjoy a dinner – seated at elegantly appointed tables, provided by Chef Cory Schreiber of Wildwood Restaurant, and his culinary students from Art Institute of Portland.

Diners and silent-auction browsers were entertained with live original folk music by Bird Flying South, and traditional Irish music by Erik Killops & Felim Egan.

Volunteers Joyce Welsh and Abigail Cermak serve diners at the event.

“We thank all of the volunteers who helped make this evening possible,” said Lighthipe, “and, all the food, services, and auction donors who invested their time, energy. and resources in our organization.”

For more information about Cafe au Play, CLICK HERE to visit their website.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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