Hundreds of Neighbors Experience Compassion

on Tuesday, 07 July 2009. Posted in Words

I walked through the crowded cafeteria of Woodmere Elementary School pushing down the lump in my throat. Nearly 300 hundred people milled about collecting information from social service organizations, getting free hair cuts, rifling through second hand clothes, selecting baby formula, and ultimately waiting for their medical, dental, chiropractic or vision appointment times to be called. I stepped outside to check on the line of pet owners waiting to be seen by veterinarians and groomers. They were hoping to receive micro-chip implants, licensing, medical exams, vaccinations and grooming. A hundred people stood in this line.

All of these services were being offered free of charge to low income, under-insured SE Portland residents and I was humbled to be associated with this effort. Second Stories teamed up with Compassion Connect and 10 local churches to host our second annual Compassion SE free health clinic on June 20, 2009. We did this to display the love of Jesus to our neighbors in a tangible way.

Let me give a run down of the numbers because they give the big picture. We had 94 dental, 109 medical, 77 chiropractic, and 59 vision appointments. Cut 40+ heads of hair. Served 1,000 free BBQ lunches. Provided services for 160 pets. Assembled a group of 25 social service agencies. 330 volunteers from several churches did all this.

One man, we’ll call him Fred, came to us in particularly urgent need. He had many medical issues that complicated his life and compromised him financially. He was enduring life without a home since loosing his job because of his illness. He had a colostomy bag and staff infection. His infection disqualified him from staying at homeless shelters. His lack of residence disqualified him from the Oregon Health Plan (an attempt to provide state assisted medical insurance). He was literally falling through the cracks of our society, putting his life in peril.

There was nothing we could really do for Fred at our clinic. We were not set up for that type of care. But he was escorted to our Follow Up room. Through a series of interviews, this check out process offers additional resources to guests who desire it. When Fred explained his situation the loving volunteers sprang into action. One woman, a medical professional, began calling for supplies that would help him. Then she went and picked them up. Fred was given advice and eventually crossed into Washington State where after securing a post office box was issued state administered health insurance. Elated, Fred found Milan, the Executive Director of Compassion Connect at his church office to tell his story!

As a result of visiting Compassion SE and wonderful volunteers going the extra mile Fred’s life has been literally extended. His understanding of Jesus’ love is more fully appreciated too. I think this is true for hundreds of people who came out to Compassion SE.

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