Reaching out to those most in need is the goal of many parish volunteers and organizations such as Oregon Food Bank. Groups such as these are doing just that as they focus their efforts on Washington County migrant farm worker camps.
“We've donated $14,453 in food this year,” said Bev Boyd, who has worked at the Food Bank since 1983. “This comes from federal and state money as well as private donations — it buys things like tomato sauce, salt, oil, tortillas, and rice.”
Boyd says her office works closely with Martha and Nick Dauenhauer of Scholls to make sure that what is most useful arrives at its destination.
“I don't think Martha ever tires,” Boyd said. “She's out there seven days a week feeding people.”
Joining her in providing food are volunteers from St. Francis Parish in Sherwood. Parishioners sort food and bring boxes of food labeled for individual families in the camps. One parishioner gives five cases of bananas each week; others bring in clothing and shoes, some even donate hand-crafted quilts. Arlene Voelker coordinates the efforts of the approximately three dozen parish volunteers who visit the camps weekly from early May to the end of June.
“We've been doing this for about eight years, and if we weren't here, I don't think there'd be anyone here,” said Ernie Garcia, a 63-year-old parishioner.
“It's important to give back a little to the people — they're in need and we have more than we need.”
Another parishioner, Cecilia Sibelian, 43, agrees.
“The workers just follow the seasonal work,” Sibelian says. “They're like butterflies, monarch butterflies. They're able to make a few bucks doing this, which is more than what they'd make at home.”
— Hazel Whitman