Church fundraiser will feature comedian
Until they hired two homeless people to work at Newberg Ace Hardware about a year ago, Mark and Betty Vergets weren't aware of Helping Hands, which operates an emergency homeless shelter and transitional program in Newberg.
One of those employees had been helped by the nonprofit organization and after learning more, the couple was pretty impressed.
The Vergets are active in the community and at Northside Community Church, which has made homelessness an area of focus for its outreach, but figured if they didn't know about it, most people in Newberg probably didn't either.
So they decided to do something about it.
Rather than simply write a check, the couple wanted to increase exposure of the organization and boost its bottom line, which is why they organized the "Helping the Homeless" benefit comedy show from 5:30 to 9 p.m. May 18 at the Chehalem Cultural Center.
The show will feature Michael Jr., a standup comedian who often performs for Christian audiences and also has a heart for helping the less fortunate.
"So these shows are right up his alley," Betty Vergets said. "He's a clean comedian. He's funny. He's thought provoking. You're laughing, but you're thinking. He's just very unique, so we just thought it was a great opportunity to be able to share that with Newberg as well."
The Vergets had twice seen Michael Jr. perform at Ace Hardware Corporate events and after some effort they found a date that worked with his schedule. They began planning the event in August and originally shot for a date in February.
"Someone donated to cover his fee, so the majority of the money from tickets sold is all going to Helping Hands," Betty Vergets said. "Anything we can do above and beyond is a bonus."
The couple has partnered with Northside to handle the logistics and financial side of the event, which will be catered by Bon Appétit, with several other groups supporting the event.
That includes the Newberg High School horticulture program, which will craft centerpieces for the event; the centerpieces will be sold afterward and the proceeds split between their program and Helping Hands.
A few Helping Hands clients will also receive banquet catering training and assist Bon Appétit at the event.
"That was one of those pieces that just fell together because we were working through Northside," Betty Vergets said. "It's just been cool to see so many things come together."
Helping Hands founder Alan Evans, who was homeless for more than 25 years himself, will also share his personal story and talk about the programs and services his organization offers.