Grants Pass Community Service 'Dorcas' Is a Shining Light

As people enter the Dorcas building, a feeling of friendliness, comfort and joy greets them. Each department is well-marked with attractive signs and flowers. The children's department is decorated with a mural of animals, blocks and hearts.

In another part of the building women busily put together beautiful quilts, which are donated to people in need or are sold at the store. Other items are also sold in the store, located a few feet away. The money from sales is used to buy food. The store is open on Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and nearly $100 worth of "treasures" are sold each week.

Pat VanDusseldorp, head of Grants Pass Church Adventist Community Services (still known as Dorcas), says, "We give out 70 to 90 boxes of food every week." Most of the food—about two tons a week is purchased from the Josephine County Food Bank, and some is purchased from local merchants.

Although the Dorcas is open only one day a week it keeps the 40 or so volunteers very busy. In 2006 they helped 11,656 people, gave away more than 55,000 pieces of clothing, and handed out an estimated 3,520 boxes of food.

Dorcas is increasing its effectiveness to help the community by starting a project called "It's My Very Own Bag of Love." Barbara Neher started the program in Kentucky in 2006 when she realized there were 180,000 children taken from their homes when their parents were arrested for cooking meth. They can take nothing with them except the clothes they're wearing. With help from the community she made duffel bags filled with new toys, a nice handmade quilt and things like a toothbrush and comb. Her appearance on 3ABN and KBLN in Oregon inspired the Grants Pass community to start making bags of love. The Child Protection Agency will give them to children in the area.

VanDusseldorp says working with Dorcas gives her and the volunteers a sense of satisfaction that they are making a difference by helping others. "We're not here to judge or to preach. We just want to get across that there is some love and hope out there. We want people to know there is a place to go."

September 01, 2007 / Oregon Conference