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Sellwood's Sundae in the Park: A cool fundraiser

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - U.S Senator Ron Wyden and his family enjoy the antics of Henrik Bothe - part of the live entertainment this year at Sundae in the Park.A summertime highlight for many each year is “Sundae in the Park”, created and underwritten by the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood association SMILE. Now in its 34th year, it was conceived as a celebration of the neighborhood – and as a fundraiser benefiting the Thelma Skelton Meals on Wheels People” Center on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue at Center Street.

It happens every year on the first Sunday afternoon in August, planned by the volunteer members of a SMILE ad-hoc committee, led currently by Nancy Walsh.

Neighbors and guests who walked, biked, and drove to upper Sellwood Park on August 4 for a casual day of entertainment and outdoor dining were not disappointed.

Some brought picnic lunches or snacks. But, most folks made their way to the Meals on Wheels People outdoor kitchen for hot dog lunches or grilled chicken dinners.

And then on to the ice cream tables nearby, where the signature item of the day – ice cream sundaes – were scooped up and sold to visitors. This service has been provided in recent years by the members, family members, and guests of the Southeast Portland Rotary Club.

“Being here is important to our mission,” said Meals on Wheels People Thelma Skelton Center Manager Colette Livermore.

When visitors buy a meal from them at an event such as this, Livermore said, helps them raise part of the $7,000 to $12.000 that is necessary to keep their doors open. “But, this also provides a good outreach to the community, to let them know we're doing. We serve lunch to seniors at our Center – and for people who can’t get out, we bring them both food and human contact.”

This year, Sundae in the Park got underway about 9 am, when members of HYPERLINK "communityofadsideo.com/" The Community of Adsideo church came by the park, said SMILE organizer Nancy Walsh. “They helped us set up all the tables, chairs, signage, and booths. They got done by 9:45, and were ready to head back for their church service!”

Throughout the day, Walsh pointed out, about 80 volunteers put on the summer ice cream social for their neighbors, including three other area churches who provided help for kids’ arts and crafts projects.

“It’s worth the effort, because it provides an opportunity to get together and socialize, learn some new skills, meet some new people, and get educated about things going on in the neighborhood,” Walsh remarked to THE BEE.

Attendees noticed something new this year: Recycling stations. “Some of our Sellwood-Westmoreland Natural Amenities Committee and Master Recycling people are at the recycling stations, helping people sort the recyclable materials from the garbage,” Walsh pointed out.

About the volunteers from Southeast Portland Rotary who scooped a total of 1,780 cups and cones of ice cream through the day – raising $898 for the Meals on Wheels People Center – Walsh said, “They do a great job, year after year.” The last sundae was scooped and served this year at 6:18 pm.

As she left the in mid-afternoon to fetch more of the ice cream that was being stored for SMILE as a courtesy by the nearby QFC Market, Walsh summed it up: “This event is all about neighbors putting on an event for their neighbors.”