Clark County ACS Celebrates Volunteers

August 24, 2016 | Ellsworth Hettke

The Clark County Adventist Community Services (ACS) volunteers serving the needs of the less fortunate people residing in Clark County, Wash., were recognized on Sunday, May 15, during a special dinner held at the Namaste Restaurant in Portland, Ore. In previous years these recognition meals were held potluck-style, but in 2015 the director, Eleanor Hetke, wanted to make the occasion a special catered event for the 45 volunteers and their spouses to enjoy.

The Old Spaghetti Factory catered the 2015 event. Volunteers who themselves serve the homeless and needy on Mondays and Tuesdays each week were served a meal and given awards for the hundreds, and in some cases the thousands, of hours they volunteered.

The 2016 event began by inviting volunteers to donate a dollar or two per month for the cost of another catered event. The staff generously “filled the pot.”

The Old Spaghetti Factory was not available this year, so Hetke, a former missionary to India, asked the volunteers if they would like to try Indian food. The volunteers voted 2 to 1 for Indian food.

Hetke negotiated with Harjender Chand Singh for the cost of renting his banquet room and the food. In the discussion, Chand asked, “Is this a nonprofit organization?”

Hetke assured him that it was and that the Vancouver Adventist Community Church in Vancouver, Wash., sponsored it. He replied, “In that case, there is no charge, and you can return next year and following years.”

Hetke shared this joyful news with the volunteers, and they discussed ways of using the $1,000 they had collected for the event. Again with her 23 years spent in India in mind, Hetke suggested they sponsor a child to a boarding school through the Adventist Child Care, an India organization. The cost per child for tuition, room and board is $420 for one year. The rest of the money was to be sent to Asian Aid, an organization that rescues children from slave labor and prostitution and takes care of orphans.

During the awards ceremony, Chand was invited to return to the banquet room so he could be thanked for his generous offer of food and venue for this special occasion. Hetke told him of the decision of the volunteers to use the money collected for India projects.

The restaurant owner left and went downstairs. A few minutes later, V.J. Puccinelli, a pastor who often visits the ACS center and conducts morning devotions to start the working day, went downstairs to order some samosas to take on a trip to Arizona the following day. When he returned, he handed Hetke a piece of paper.

That piece of paper was a check for $501 to be added to the amount that was going to India.

Hetke’s husband, Elsworth, invited Chand to visit the ACS Community Center, and he came at 9 a.m. on Monday. He was pleasantly surprised at what he saw and made a request: “I have two teenage daughters who need to learn what it means to serve others; could they come and volunteer here too?”  He was assured that they could come in the summer months when they were not attending school classes.

Roger Walter, Vancouver Adventist Community Church pastor, closed this happy event with words of encouragement. His comment that this was a "Yeah, God" moment was very appropriate and summarized the feelings of the volunteers.