Ted Seeber writes: I'm preparing a flyer to advertise Our Peaceful Place statewide at the Knights of Columbus mid-year meeting for District Deputies in the State of Oregon. Since I'm only Roundtable Chairman, and my presentation time will be eaten up by my duties as such, at most I'll only be able to mention it at the end of my speech, and the flyer will have to speak for me. It occurred to me that the first draft was good enough that I should put it out on the blog. For the reverse side, please see our main website at: How You Can Help
I was named Knight of the Year for 2011 for Our Lady of the Valley Council 3591, in Tigard, OR. I do a lot for my council, including our website, running the St. Clare’s/St. John Fisher Roundtable (soon to be a council of our own), editing the newsletter. But I also give back to the secular community. I’m on the Board of Directors of Our Peaceful Place.
In April of 1998, our founder, Sr. Maria Francis Waugh, sfcc, had been ministering to the poor on the streets of Portland for nearly twenty years. For many years she had a yearning to offer a place of peace and rest to the homeless in Portland. She desired to furnish a sanctuary where all people could find belonging and family. Her dream was to provide a safe haven for the weary in an environment rich in welcome and acceptance. A comfort zone where people would gather and where healthy relationships would be established and flourish in an atmosphere of tolerance and inclusiveness.
Tragedy struck Our Peaceful Place during the summer of 2003 when Sr. Maria was killed in a car accident. As Maria’s friends and supporters pulled together for comfort; her Board of Directors sought help from them to keep the ministry going. They were able to continue her work and though her loss is still felt, her footprint is on the heart of this mission and her vision is its soul.
Our Peaceful Place continued to operate a drop-in center until October 2006 when the church building it was leasing was no longer available. This did not stop the work of Our Peaceful Place - it has since adapted to working on the streets - where volunteers walk the streets of downtown Portland carrying backpacks filled with items like over-the-counter remedies, socks, hats, etc that are distributed free of cost to the homeless. The organization also provides referrals for access to housing and other social services, assistance in filling out forms - in a nutshell - providing all the help it can with the resources it has.
Our Directoress, Barb Lescher, goes out every morning and evening, rain or shine, pulling behind her a rolling suitcase full of items often needed on the streets of Portland. We do this very cheaply- our overhead is quite low- 99 cents out of every dollar given to Our Peaceful Place, goes to our ministry.
Sr. Maria used to run the whole thing on 88 donors giving just $25/month. As the recession set in, the number of monthly donors we could count on went down, severely. We’re now down to less than 10 donors a month we can count on. We need desperately to rebuild our sustaining circle- and the dream is still there to eventually find an empty storefront and once again open and operate a day shelter.
Every fall, in October, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Beaverton and the Indian Church put on a dinner for Our Peaceful Place. Knights of Columbus has been involved heavily in this event- in 2011, 4 councils from District 3 sponsored tables, donating between $250-$500 each. In addition, Tigard Council organized a breakfast at St. Clare’s Parish in Portland giving $1088 to Our Peaceful Place. Sherwood Council organized a sock drive at St. Francis School for Our Peaceful Place. And several Knights are already on our donor list.
I urge you all to go back to your districts and councils and mention the good work that Barb Lescher does. On the back of this flyer is a list of ways your councils can get involved with Our Peaceful Place- including taking walks with Barb. It would be wonderful if a few more Knights could become part of our Sustaining Circle- or if more councils could sponsor tables for the Fall East Indian Dinner fundraiser. But even if you have no money- and can just organize a sock drive, it would be a big help to the work Barb Lescher does on the streets every day.
Please visit our website to give. The only real difference I'm planning for the final version at this time is that I expect I will soon know when the October dinner is scheduled for, and I'll be editing the document to include that date.