Sue Stephens has been selected as the 2017 Tigard Shining Stars “From the Heart” Volunteer of the Year, named in honor of Jim Hartman. Jim Hartman set the standard for this award by his example of giving from the heart to his community, and the “From the Heart” award honors a person who has dedicated their time and energy to a specific cause in the Tigard community. This person gives willingly, energetically and consistently; they might be well known or might be a “quiet” volunteer, unrecognized until now, but always gives “from the heart”! This person may have worked on the same project for many years.
Sue is the volunteer manager of the Just Compassion Day Center for Homeless Adults that is currently housed in the Tigard Foursquare Church on Pacific Highway in Tigard. She does this in addition to working a part time job with Love INC of Tigard. Every Thursday morning since January 7, 2016, Sue Stephens heads out to storage at 8:45 a.m. and begins loading heavy duty brown plastic bins with yellow lids, giant-sized black garbage bags and black sleeping mats. Sometimes she has help and an extra car, but many times she goes it alone, cramming everything she can into her SUV.
Once Sue arrives at the center, she is met by other volunteers who help her unload and begin set up of the day center. With Sue's oversight, the church social/meeting space is transformed into an oasis for the cold, hungry guests who will soon arrive. Kitchen supplies are unloaded, coffee made and breakfast items set out. Mats complete with sheets and blankets await the tired and weary folks who struggle to sleep safely at night. The bags of donated clothing are opened, organized and ready to become useful once again. The entertainment box is opened and available for card players, artists, movie enthusiasts or news readers. Job openings and recruiters are posted along with resource information for health care, counseling and upcoming events. The front desk is organized for check-in of the incoming guests who will sign in, fill out forms if they are new or need assistance.
As guests arrive they are welcomed by the volunteer check-in person and greeted warmly by Sue as they settle in. Sue either knows or quickly gets to know every homeless guest who enters. The guests trust her and share their problems and hopes and needs with her as they work toward making little changes. As the day progresses, Sue coordinates the lunch providers, visitors meeting with individual clients/guests and a myriad of other activities. At the end of the day, a small crew dismantles the day center. All the boxes, plastic bags, etc. are loaded back into Sue's brown SUV and off she goes to store everything in her garage until the next Thursday morning.
Although the center is only open one day a week, Sue spends numerous hours throughout the week organizing volunteers, surveying supplies and making shopping lists, collecting supplies, logging information about guests and their needs, identifying who can meet those needs, and contacting other agencies or organizations that may be able to provide assistance and resources.
Without Sue's positive powers of persuasion, tireless efforts, and energy to jump in and "just do it", the Day Center would not yet be a reality and we would all be scratching our heads to find solutions to a community dilemma.
In addition to her volunteer time with Just Compassion's Day Center, Sue helps serve the homeless through volunteering:
- At Unity Laundromat the first Sunday of each month to assist with Showers and Laundry
- Several Sunday evenings throughout the year, coordinating her team of Community Cafe volunteers at St. Anthony's Catholic Church to provide a free meal to members of the community.
- On the St. Anthony's Overnight Severe Weather Shelter Steering Committee and participating in overnight shelter activities.
Even in her part-time job, Sue works to improve the lives of others. She is employed parttime by Love INC of Tigard and strives to help meet the basic needs of the many people in the area who are living in poverty.
Please join us in congratulating Sue and thanking her for her service to our Tigard community. Her award will be formally presented with other Tigard volunteer and business awards at Tigard’s 2017 Shining Stars Community Awards Celebration, sponsored by Title Sponsors HomeStreet Bank (King City/Tigard Branch) and Center Street Gold & Silver. The event will be held on Friday, April 28th from 5:30-9 p.m. at Embassy Suites – Washington Square, our event location host. With a theme of “Roaring 20’s”, this elegant themed dinner event includes dinner, silent auction, dessert dash, awards, and more. Tickets are $55/person. Dress your best and join us to celebrate Tigard!
About Just Compassion
Just Compassion is a coalition of religious, service, civic and business organizations that have joined together to network and share resources for creating a safe and hospitable environment and a community centered response to the needs of those without homes and those living in poverty in Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood.