Baha'i News -- Interfaith Volunteers extends hands

Metro South News
Interfaith Volunteers extends hands

09/26/02

OREGON CITY -- From Roman Catholicism to the Baha'is, more than 290 denominations make up the Interfaith Volunteers of Clackamas County.

And although each is different, one thing all members believe in is compassion.

Coupled with a phone and e-mail network, members are putting their beliefs to work by helping low-income families, the elderly and the mentally ill find shelter, food and clothing.

Efforts to further help their cause will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, during the second annual Harvest of Services at the Willamette Falls Education Center, 519 15th St. Admission is free.

The event is geared toward reaching out. More than 70 booths will provide information to the public about social service programs in Clackamas County. Panel presentations will highlight issues among senior citizens, children and families, and volunteer opportunities will abound.

The organization boasts an e-mail subscriber list of nearly 300. More than 150 volunteers are actively registered.

Jean Fairbairn drummed up the idea for the organization more than five years ago.

"I felt in my heart that there was a need for this type of thing," she said. "I felt that churches needed to be involved in communities, not just with the people within their own four walls. I wrote up a grant proposal to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and we got it."

Interfaith Volunteers has grown in the past two years, establishing relationships with service providers such as the Social Services of Clackamas County

"We're really proud of our relationship with the IVCC," said Liz Bartell, a human services manager with Social Services of Clackamas County.

The two organizations work together, each making contributions to provide the most complete assistance to those in need. An example of the joint effort is when county services provide an apartment for an individual or family. The Interfaith Volunteers of Clackamas County uses additional resources to furnish the home.

This year the organization has recycled nearly $18,000 worth of furniture and furnished at least 40 homes.

Interfaith Volunteers provides other services during the year as well. The Giving Tree event provides gifts for foster children and other people in need at the Christmas season.

The Startright Program provides new backpacks, loaded with school supplies, to children from low-income families. This year, 1,000 schoolchildren began their year with new backpacks, sharpened pencils and other supplies, thanks to the organization.

"We do a little bit of a lot of things," Fairbairn said.


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