First Baptist Church among local organizations dedicated to supporting the homeless

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Teri Helser shows off the spaghetti dinner being served Monday night, March 19. Ten years ago, Teri Helser and her husband came up with a plan for how to use the extra space in the basement of the church they attended, First Baptist Church of Gresham.

The couple had been attending community meetings that examined potential solutions for supporting the homeless and spent afternoons helping the campers who were living nearby. OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - At the First Baptist Church of Gresham, there are donated boots and clothes available to the homeless. They decided they could do more for the most vulnerable in the community, so they opened a homeless shelter.

"It was an easy decision, because we always had the heart for this kind of work," Helser said.

Now the shelter has grown from serving eight individuals to almost 70 each week. Open every Monday from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., the shelter, at 224 West Powell Blvd., offers a space to seek warmth, snacks and drinks, dinner, showers, Bingo with giveaways, clothing and much more.

"I see a lot of kids who went to school with mine come through here," Helser said. "If we weren't here, where would they go?"

About 15 volunteers assist at the shelter. They also get help cleaning the space from homeless people who want to give back. The shelter is winding down for the season, closing on March 26. It will reopen again in November as the weather turns.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Bridge City Corvette Club provided a dinner for the homeless Monday, March 19, at the First Baptist Church shelter.On Monday, March 19, the Bridge City Corvette Club provided a spaghetti dinner with garlic bread, salads and dessert. The church is always looking for more support from local groups and organizations, as well as donations. Those interested in providing a dinner, or volunteering, can email Helser at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"Any organization that can do something to help is appreciated," Helser noted.

The organizers of the First Baptist shelter are the first to point out they are not the only group in the community working to support the homeless. They work together with many other churches in the city, and receive donations and support from the city.

"We are not just one church. We couldn't have opened this without other people," Helser said. "All of this is a big community push that I think is unique to Gresham."

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