It was 1934—depression days for the nation. The Sunshine
Ladies of Sunnyside Seventh day Adventist church and the Women’s
auxiliary of the Adventist Sanitarium were moved by the plight
of so many desperate families in their community. They decided
to sew clothes for people to keep their neighbors warm and comfortable.
It soon became apparent that these people also needed food,
and so these ladies began to offer food as well.
The Sunshine Ladies were very busy and through the years other
people began to help. In 1963 eight Seventh-day Adventist churches
decided to pool their resources and serve the community through
one agency, rather than in each individual church. And so Portland
Adventist Community Services was born.
It was located on Hawthorne Street in a small house and had
just a handful of volunteers. Through the years it became affectionately
known as “PACS.” It grew little by little and after
awhile needed more space. It was decided to move.
In 1973 an old furniture store was located, money was borrowed
and PACS moved to 6611 SE Powell. The building was very large—10,000
square feet—and provided plenty of space to serve those
As the years passed, PACS continued to quietly grow. In 1987
approximately 18,000 people were served. In 1993 a health clinic
was added. In 1994 nearly 24,000 people came for help, and in
1995 a thrift shop was opened. The people in the churches hardly
recognized the work they began so long ago. Under the leadership
of various capable and always part-time directors and volunteers,
the Lord blessed His work.
The work continued to grow until the once huge building was
bursting at the seams. Again it was time to move.
In 1998 a piece of land was purchased with two buildings and
a large parking lot. The agency moved.
At that time the food distribution was changed from handing
out boxes of food to grocery style distribution. People were
able to choose their own food from shelves and refrigerators.
Now PACS is recognized by the Oregon Food Bank as the busiest
emergency food site in the state. PACS and its staff and volunteers
have received numerous awards from the community through the
years. More and more people come to PACS each year and none are
turned away. This is accomplished by a mighty force of over 215
volunteers providing more than 37,000 hours of service each year.
It has been necessary to hire a full-time director to coordinate
the agency. PACS is known by the people it serves as the agency
that serves them cheerfully, that preserves their dignity—the
agency that really cares.