Sen. Merkley presents flag flown over U.S. Capitol

TRIBUNE PHOTO: PETER WONG - During a presentation on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Milwaukie High School, Anna Jones, co-founder of the Clackamas Service Center, gets a flag flown over U.S. Capitol from U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, as Executive Director Debra Mason looks on at left.Clackamas Service Center began 45 years ago with $1,000 that Anna Jones and two other women won from playing bingo.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley recognized the center Saturday (Feb. 27) when he presented Jones with a U.S. flag that has flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

“She is the founding force and is still at it twice a week,” Merkley said as he handed the flag to Jones and executive director Debra Mason.

Jones, who is 91, said the center started with the help of $1,000 from bingo winnings.

“The money we made from bingo, we put into buying food,” Jones said in a brief interview beforehand. “We thought you could go to the food bank and get food for nothing — but there is no such thing. That is how the center started.

“This neighborhood has been poor ever since I can remember.”

Since the end of 1975, Clackamas Service Center has been at 8800 SE 80th Ave. The phone number is (503) 771-7914.

In addition to distributing 5,000 food boxes annually, the center offers hot meals six days a week.

It is the base for medical and dental care provided through partnerships, and for a variety of other social services.

Jones runs the clothing room, which offers used clothing to people in need.

“We are a small but mighty grassroots organization, committed to building trust with clients and providing a hand-up on the path to self-sufficiency,” Mason said.

Merkley usually starts a town hall meeting — this one was at Milwaukie High School — with recognition for a community organization.

Among his positions before Merkley was elected to public office back in 1998 were director of Portland Habitat for Humanity and director of housing development at Human Solutions.

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