Youths from Resurrection Parish in Tualatin adorn bags with their artwork and prepare to fill them with fruit, chips, napkins, granola bars, condiments and water bottles. The lunches were destined for those at a shelter in Oregon City and are part of broad effort at the parish to aid the vulnerable. (Courtesy Resurrection Parish)
Youths from Resurrection Parish in Tualatin adorn bags with their artwork and prepare to fill them with fruit, chips, napkins, granola bars, condiments and water bottles. The lunches were destined for those at a shelter in Oregon City and are part of broad effort at the parish to aid the vulnerable. (Courtesy Resurrection Parish)

TUALATIN — It started small with a few volunteers making sack lunches and has grown into a parishwide offering of service and gifts for those in need.

About three years ago, a Resurrection Parish bulletin asked for someone to lead sandwich making and sack lunch preparation for those who visit The Father’s Heart Street Ministry, an Oregon City day shelter.

“We organized the sack lunch making between Sunday Masses so families could participate in an assembly line effort to fill the bags with nonperishables while a small crew made the sandwiches,” said Holly Tichenor, a Resurrection parishioner and day shelter supporter. “What really drew a crowd to support the efforts was that we made it a family event, and all ages could participate after Mass.”

Tichenor said one of the special elements of the project was that preschool and religious education students decorated the white bags “to brighten the day of those getting lunch.”

Today, Resurrection’s support for The Father’s Heart Street Ministry has expanded to include hot meals, baked treats, Saturday breakfast on the streets of Oregon City, food drives, clothes and other donations, in-facility volunteering, and area food drop-off to those in temporary shelters. Hundreds of parishioners have participated in various ways to serve those in need through the ministry.

“Every week we are getting new volunteers in our parish who step up to make burritos for breakfast meals, help with deliveries of food or want to make baked goods,” said Laura Ruelas, a lead coordinator of street ministry activities at the parish.

The Father’s Heart Street Ministry offers meals, showers, clothing, job-finding help, recovery support and other services. The ministry’s staff are guided by Christian values and strive to see and support an individual’s need by showing empathy, love, compassion and guiding people to resources often not accessible without help.

In 2019-2020, The Father’s Heart Street Ministry activities were selected by Resurrection Parish’s “Dream Big” committee for financial support. The financial contributions allowed the day facility to replace an aging and battered carpet with new vinyl floors and make other improvements to the day center.

One of the most significant contributions came in 2021 when Resurrection began financially supporting the street ministry’s efforts to house men, women and some families. The rehousing program has been a success, with more than 40 individuals obtaining temporary or permanent housing.

Resurrection’s contributions also have supported the financial needs of many seeking shelter. A recent food drive led by the parish resulted in hundreds of pounds of food donations that are boxed and shared weekly with people living temporarily in area motels.

The parish also assists the organization financially by eliminating the entry fees associated with rehousing, said Robin Keating, director of human services for The Father's Heart Street Ministry. “This has been a godsend to eliminate the financial barriers to those who are able sustain their housing expenses — once they are able to secure a home,” he said.