Marcus Larson/News-Register##Before the start of dinner, the Prestige volunteers and soup kitchen staff hold
hands in prayer, lead by Father Howard Curtis.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Before the start of dinner, the Prestige volunteers and soup kitchen staff hold hands in prayer, lead by Father Howard Curtis.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Prestige volunteers Bruce Brown gives salsa and
chips to customer Lily Siefken.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Prestige volunteers Bruce Brown gives salsa and chips to customer Lily Siefken.
By Emily Hoard • Staff Writer • 

Taking their turn to serve

“Just because they’re in a nursing home doesn’t mean they can’t serve the community,” said Matthew Lysobey, the administrator of Prestige Post-Acute and Rehabilitation Center - Oakwood. He was referring to the facility’s residents who volunteered to prepare and serve a meal at The Soup Kitchen at St. Barnabas on Tuesday. 

“A lot of times they’re thanking people for the care they receive, but they don’t necessarily feel needed,” Lysobey said. “This is an opportunity for them to serve community members in McMinnville that really need help.”

Some of the residents are in wheelchairs, some have had strokes or deal with cognitive issues. But that doesn’t prevent them from serving, Lysobey said.

Ten residents prepared the chicken fajitas and salad. Later that afternoon, six residents served 102 people who are homeless or can’t afford food.

It began with the residents’ commitment to serve the first Tuesday of every month.

Gina Constantino, 30, helped prepare food at the facility. She said it’s all about giving back to the community.

“I’m super young and I can’t walk, but I love doing this,” she said. “You see a lot of people who are homeless and don’t have food. I see it first hand.”

She mentioned one homeless man who visits a resident at Prestige. The facility provides him with a meal when he does. “I wish there were more places like this that give out meals to people who need them,” Constantino said. 

Robert Beveridge, 52, said he plans to volunteer each month as long as he’s at the center. Beveridge was cutting bell peppers and onions in the morning and served salad at the church.

“I thought it’d be fun to do this,” Beveridge said. “It’s something to do besides sitting around in the nursing home, recuperating.”

Howard Curtis, a 90-year-old Catholic priest and member of the Trappist Abbey in Lafayette, said preparing the food takes him back to his roots.

“I’ve done many things in my life and cooking is one of them,” said Curtis, who was raised on a ranch and did quite a bit of cooking.

“We had sheep and grazed them on federal lands in Northwestern Colorado, and I learned to cook out there,” he said.

Later that evening, the residents held hands while Curtis led them in a prayer before serving dinner. 

The Hope on the Hill program and other community members volunteer at the church’s soup kitchen, too. Dylian Simkins, a 19-year-old from Newberg, has been volunteering as a server for the past six months.

“I came here to eat every once in a while and thought it’s kind of cool, so I thought I’d help,” Simkins said.

Daniel Murphy, 22, said he’s had meals at the soup kitchen several times.

“I just came here because I can’t afford to eat this week,” he said. “I’m glad something like this is around. I’ve gone to other cities where soup kitchens are harder to find.” 

After the dinner, Lysobey reported that one resident, Debra Ahls, said preparing and serving the meal was the most important thing she’s done in years. 

“The people receiving the food at the soup kitchen were so kind,” Lysobey said. “Several mentioned to our residents how blessed they were to receive the food. Our residents were beaming. They really worked hard and are truly making a difference in their community.”

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS