A Season of Service

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Churches in Portland, Ore., launched their second “Season of Service” last week by giving the city a check for $100,000.

Evangelist Luis Palau, often described as the Billy Graham of Latin America, presented the gift on Thursday during a kick-off event organized by his evangelistic organization.

The donation is part of a broad, cooperative effort among the City of Portland, local congregations and nonprofit groups to address some of the area’s most pressing needs.

“The money will absolutely go to very good use,” Portland Mayor Sam Adams said, noting that the city had cut $20 million from its budget. “This $100,000 means more than you will possibly know.”

In a state where unemployment inches close to 10 percent, the $100,000 gift will benefit the Home Again Mentoring Project, which assists homeless families transition into stable housing, and the Portland Schools Transition Center, which encourages youth who have dropped out of school to continue their educations.

More than 350 pastors attended the kick-off event held at the Hinson Memorial Baptist Church in Portland. There, Adams officially declared May 1 through Oct. 31 the “Season of Service” and called for all residents to participate.

The Season of Service was launched last year in conjunction with Portland CityFest, an evangelistic event Palau hosted. “In 2008 we were ‘practicing,’ not knowing the worst economic downturn was headed our way,” said Kevin Palau, executive vice president of the Luis Palau Association.

The 2008 campaign brought together more than 600 churches, civic leaders, businesses, and service organizations, and nearly 30,000 volunteers to help meet social needs in the greater Portland-Vancouver, Wash., area.

This year, the service projects will target homelessness, schools, health and wellness, environmental issues, and hunger and poverty.

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