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Caring in Our Community
Volunteers Make a Difference
by Barbara Roland

A wife of a Mercy Corp. Volunteer, whom had meningitis a few years ago, has a member from the First United Methodist Church do shopping for her. A First United Methodist volunteer drove a Jewish man to seek senior housing.

A volunteer of the Unity Health Center helped an elderly woman of the Lake Grove Presbyterian Church when she returned to her home after post surgery.

PLOW, a Portland Mennonite organization had five of their youths help a member of the Church of Scientology finish modification to their family's new home to make it wheelchair accessible.

A volunteer from the Church of Scientology just sits and has interesting conversations with a woman in her 90's just so she can have someone to talk to.

Someone from the Milwaukie Baha'i Assembly delivered an emergency food supply to an ill woman in Forest Grove.

All of these volunteers of different faiths are part of the Urban Portland Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Coalition. This is only a small part of all of UPIVC volunteers and what they are doing in and around Portland every week. Besides many of the volunteers coming from different faith communities, some do not belong to a church but still help those in need of care. Furthermore, some of those in need of care do not belong to a congregation of a particular faith. The coalition services all those in need no matter their religious background or economic bracket.

The coalition began about two years ago with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to serve the needs of elderly and disabled who were unable to do some of those everyday things without help ... things like reading mail, writing letters, shopping, getting to the doctor, minor home repair, yard work or just needing some companionship.

The director for the coalition, Maureen Breckenridge, said she has many people calling in for assistance and expects that the number of people who will need help will keep growing every year. Not all social service agencies have funds to cover a home visit where help is most needed.

So with a collection of volunteers in and around our community willing to help, UPIVC plans to continue its mission to help all who call for assistance. But with the growing numbers of people needing assistance, UPIVC needs more volunteers. UPIVC also needs people from the community with skills as volunteer coordinators, office and bookkeeping skills, and fund raising and public relations experience who can serve on an advisory committee. If you or your congregation of faith is interested in volunteering or you know someone who may be, contact the Urban Portland Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers office for assistance or more information. Call 503-216-6435.