Friday, March 1, 2013

In Loving Memory, Barbara Lescher

Barbara Lescher was born in 1953 and grew up in Bellevue Washington. She was raised with five siblings by her father. She was nine years old when her mother died. Throughout her high school years she worked as a hospital volunteer in an emergency room where she recognized that the smallest act of kindness could make a difference.
After graduating from High School she went to school in Seattle for medical assisting. She moved to Portland where she received training in restorative therapy. She worked in the health care field for many years in both Portland and in Denver.
In 1980, at the age of 27 she had a spiritual awakening. During a conversation with two friends she asked the question, “What exactly is a Christian?” One friend replied, “It is living under Grace instead of living under the Law.” The other said, “It is having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Barb felt compelled to go to the cross. She recognized at that moment that she was one of the “all men” Jesus had died for. Her life changed from that point on.
Something clicked when Barb volunteered to help with the youth group at her church. She was effective. When she met Sr. Maria Francis, who asked her to begin a youth group for homeless kids, Barb was ready to sign on. Little did she realize that it was God that had planted the idea of a youth group in Maria’s heart and that God would use that season to prepare Barb to begin 30 years of her life’s work and passion… coming alongside Portland’s homeless.
Sr Maria started a drop-in shelter called Our Peaceful Place in downtown Portland for the homeless population in the area where anyone could stop by for a warm place to rest, get fed and feel welcome. When Sr. Maria passed away in a car accident in 2003, her friends banded together to keep the shelter going. It was at this time that Barb felt God calling her to carry on the work of Our Peaceful Place and made herself available to serve as the Director.
In 2006, the lease for the building expired and Our Peaceful Place did not have a space to continue its work. Not to be deterred, Barb took to the streets just as Sr. Maria did many years ago, to serve the poor wherever they could be found in downtown Portland. She handed out items of basic needs—such as over the counter medications, small items of clothing such as hats and socks, sandwiches and much more. She also frequently counseled people on other social service organizations where help could be had or when funds permitted, helped individuals with pressing needs directly. She would answer calls at all hours of the day or night for people in dire need of some assistance.
She worked tirelessly, often alone, in rain or shine. Portland was fortunate to be blessed with a person of such compassion and calling to lend help to the downtrodden. Even on the last day of her life, she had just made turkey sandwiches to take downtown. She will be missed by all who knew her but we take heart in knowing that she was welcomed into her Lord and Savior’s arms having served her Master faithfully to the end.
Barb is survived by her daughter Anna, son-in-law Nate and a grandchild.

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