Sunnyside Church Offers a Taste of Home

November 05, 2016 | Warren Rushold

Being away from home at college presents its challenges; a big one for many students is where to get a real home-cooked meal. Maybe the cafeteria? Well, they do their best, but really?! Then there are the Walla Walla University nursing students who have to deal with life, and meals, on two campuses. Challenges times two!

The Portland nursing campus, where the students do their clinical learning, is adjacent to Adventist Medical Center and the Sunnyside Church. For Sunnyside, this presented an opportunity in hospitality, relationships and friendship.

Karen and Dale Davies had been traveling around the U.S. in their motor coach for seven years before they settled down in the Portland area in 2008 and joined Sunnyside as regular members. They had been involved in youth and young adult ministries most of their life and wondered at the relative few numbers of attendees from those age groups, especially given that the nurses dorm was right next door.

They inquired at the nurse’s dorm whether a ministry sponsored by Sunnyside would be welcome and got a resounding yes. As they thought about how to begin, and did some nternet research, they decided to start with two things: move-in assistance and a “Soup and Bread Nite” every Monday provided by Sunnyside volunteers.

It started simply with PB&J, cheese, lettuce and mayo, and of course bread. The menu soon expanded, as planned, to include homemade soup. That basic menu carried forward for several years.

After three years, Dale and Karen needed to step back due to health concerns, and their leadership role was filled by Bill and Ruby Hohensee, who are assisted by Lorrie Wescott and many others mentioned below.

At 5 p.m. the students “set the table” in preparation; by 5:15 p.m. the student lounge area of the dorm is filled with up to 65 hungry young people. The volunteers arrive with the food, and dinner begins. The students are grateful, as recent comments suggest:

  • "I feel the love through the food." — Kathryn D.
  • "It's inspiring to know there is such a generous community behind us and their generosity is such a blessing. It inspires me to be generous." — John B.
  • "It means so much to have the community do this and not ask anything in return. It's an inspiring example of what it means to give." — River D.

Sometime after the Hohnensees assumed their leadership role, the menu was expanded. They now offer a variety of food over the course of the school year.

On any given Monday during the collegiate year, you may encounter sandwiches, salad and dessert or traditional haystacks. Other nights, students enjoy casseroles, spaghetti, "Hawaiian haystyacks" (fruit), or baked potatoes with fixings like homemade chili. Other favorites include breakfast-for-dinner, including eggs and pancakes, and occasional ethnic dinners like Indian, Japanese and Romanian cuisine, provided by church members from those areas of the world.

At the end of the 2011–2012 school year, a surprise awaited Sunnyside. The nursing students had dedicated their yearbook to the Sunnyside volunteers who had so generously given food, time, conversation and love to a group of young people who were away from home. Also, at the end of each school year the students — with the help of their dean — prepare a meal for the volunteers as another token of their appreciation.

This year's Soup and Bread Nite began Sept. 26 at the beginning of the school year. Current volunteers include:

  • Bill and Ruby Hohensee
  • Lorrie Wescott
  • Russell and Camie Vickroy
  • Sylvia Bokich (soup)
  • Margie Allen (desserts)
  • Tom and Pauline Davis
  • Wellington and Darlene (Japanese dinners)
  • T.W. and Rajama Philip (Indian dinner)

These Sunnyside members are putting into action the words of Rom. 12:13 (NLT): “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”