PACS raise funds to help those in need and give awards to those who lend a hand

If all that you know about PACS is their thrift store, you really should take a look at this story …

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz is one of the 380 participants at this year’s PACS Awards Banquet.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many folks in outer East Portland know about, or have shopped at, the PACS Thrift Store at NE 111th Avenue and NE Halsey Street.

But unless you’re out of work, down on your luck, and need food for your family – or unless  you have critical health needs and no insurance – you may not know that Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS) runs a pantry and healthcare clinic at that location.

“The PACS Food Pantry takes aim at hunger by providing a short-term food supply to struggling families,” Brian Vistaunet, PACS Development Associate reminded us, when we visited their fifth annual Awards Dinner and Auction on October 18 at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the Portland Airport.

Tom Nemmert and Allan Warman are checking on their bids at the PACS silent auction.

“Last year 73,369 low-income people received food assistance from our Food Pantry,” Vistaunet stated. “And, the PACS Family Health Clinic provides primary care to uninsured patients. It is especially important to individuals who need a regular doctor to monitor problems like diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease.”

Their Thrift Store is just one of several fundraising activities in which PACS engages. “But, it’s an important one,” said Vistaunet. “Every dollar raised from our neighbors’ donations of clean, gently used clothing and merchandise goes to help those in need – right here in outer East Portland.”

We asked how the PACS Family Health Clinic can afford to help – as the costs of healthcare skyrocket.

“That question goes to the heart of our ‘Barbara Nelson Award’ which we give each year to an organization that, as the award says, ‘exemplifies unbounded enthusiasm, leadership and vision for a better community’,” replied Vistaunet. “Barbara Nelson pioneered medical assistance to needy individuals in the Portland area as one of the founders of the PACS Family Health Clinic. This year’s award goes to Adventist Medical Center (AMC).”

John Korb, the board chair of PACS looks on, as Tom Russell, the president of Portland Adventist Medical Center, receives the ‘Barbara Nelson Award’ from PACS’ executive director Paul Cole.

Accepting the award for the hospital was AMC’s president, Tom Russell.

“There’s a lot of talk about trying to fill the underserved needs of healthcare in our community,” Russell told us at the event. “But, PACS – for a couple of decades – has been really doing something about it. They put together a model of how their organization, our hospital, and our physicians can work together. It is a forerunner for the ‘Project Access Now organization that’s now in the community.”

Russell said many AMC-practicing physicians volunteer their time and expertise.  “They’ve done a great job of supporting them with specialty services that are otherwise not available to the indigent. AMC also provides imaging services and diagnostic services for the clinic. A lot of patients would not have these diagnostic services available otherwise.”

The duo of Gerald Tetz, on classical guitar, and keyboard artist and harpist Candy Ringering provided elegant audio ambiance for the event.

As Ervin Gruia, PACS’ Clinic Taskforce Chair, and a Key Customer Manager with Portland General Electric, said in part, when presenting the award to Adventist Community Services,

“Adventist Medical Center goes beyond the call of duty to serve needy families. It is not directly affiliated with Portland Adventist Community Services, but is a critical partner in providing health care to those with no insurance. Because of this partnership, the PACS Family Health Clinic is able to provide a higher level of service to needy patients, and refer to these partnering agencies for some of the medical procedures that cannot be handled within the clinic itself.”

Russell later responded to the accolades, saying, “We’re pleased to be able to partner with PACS as they provide healthcare to the community to meet the unmet needs in the outer east Portland area. We’re glad to be able to partner with them and help make it happen.”

PACS also honored with Appreciation Awards other AMC partners that are part of the PACS clinic support team – including Willamette Emergency Physicians, Diagnostic Radiologists, P.C., and Cherry Park Pathology Associates, P.C.

Even if you weren’t able to attend this event, you can support PACS by donating your good and shopping at their Thrift Store.

About 380 people attended the event that more than $100,000 for PACS programs, Vistaunet told us after the event. “We want to acknowledge our major event sponsors, Generations Retirement Communities and Great Western Real Estate.”

After the event, one of the attendees, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz commented on the organization. “PACS is a wonderful organization,” commended Fritz. “It’s not just what they do, which is provide practical help when people most need it, whether it’s clothes, food, or medical care. It is, additionally, the way the staff and volunteers ‘shine’ in the way they give the help, in a very respectful as well as compassionate style. I truly appreciate the service of PACS in our community.”

Portland Adventist Community Services is located at 11020 NE Halsey Street. Learn more by visiting their website by CLICKING HERE or calling them at (503) 252-8500.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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