Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Wednesday, February 10, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Holy Redeemer Open House 2016

Home : News : Local
12/26/2012 12:36:00 PM
Organized and kind, volunteer prefers to stay under radar
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Don Gainer prepares to stow cans to be given to needy families.  
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Don Gainer prepares to stow cans to be given to needy families.
 

Jack Fisher and Don Gainer lug a heavy box at the Ascension Parish food pantry.
Jack Fisher and Don Gainer lug a heavy box at the Ascension Parish food pantry.
Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel

On this morning, Don Gainer has a problem.

A freezer at Ascension Parish has sputtered to a halt and he must find a place for hundreds of pounds of frozen chicken. If he fails, Christmas dinner for hundreds of Southeast Portland families will be spoiled.

Gainer — slim, spry and 82 — calmly but firmly marshals a team of fellow retirees who shuffle boxes, rearrange piles and wedge every piece of poultry into other freezers.

On top of that, an extra large shipment has come in from the Oregon Food Bank and the parish's St. Vincent de Paul volunteers feverishly stow it temporarily. Hungry families will be coming later that day. The pantry helps about 135 households per month. And a few days before Christmas, Ascension volunteers assembled 800 boxes of food to provide Christmas dinners to 250 families.

Gainer, one of the oldest of the 42 St. Vincent de Paul volunteers, looks like one of the youngest. He works like a man half his age, lugging loads while answering questions and making dozens of decisions a minute.

"He's so dedicated to this," says St. Vincent de Paul volunteer Stan Somich. "And he's like that little Energizer bunny rabbit."

"He works just as hard as I do," says Keith Bailey, who is decades younger than Gainer.

Gainer, who ran a family auto parts store for decades, is in charge of procuring supplies for the food pantry. He devises mathematical formulas to try to match supplies to the number of those in need. But he realizes that he can rarely predict what kind of food will be available and how many people will present themselves.

That's especially true at Christmas.

"This time of year, you grab what you can," he says.

Ascension St. Vincent de Paul is a tightly run ship. Only about 15 percent of the budget gets spent on food. The rest is offered as assistance for rent, utilities and medications.

Every week, parishioners donate food. At Christmas, they up their contributions, filling empty boxes provided by St. Vincent de Paul. Often, they give money, which Gainer can put to use at the Oregon Food Bank, buying mounds of healthy goods to bring back to Ascension.  

Ascension has some longtime volunteers who have embrace their niches. The fellow who likes to organize the frozen poultry for Christmas boxes is know as "The Chicken Man." Down with the spuds is the "Potato Lady." Gainer says the volunteers love what they do.

The whole process has fortified Gainer's faith. Time and again, he sees divine influence: just enough food, always more space in the refrigerator, a donor coming through at the last minute, a volunteer knowing just the thing to do.  

"If you turn it over to the Lord, it never fails," he says. "For me, it's a three for one deal: I put in one, God gives three."

And just when Gainer gets discouraged, feeling taken advantage of perhaps, God does something definitive. For example, Gainer delivered food to a couple and saw that they were driving a new, expensive car, quite a show next to his old, simple auto. But then the woman thanked the neighbor who had loaned her the vehicle, because the family had no car at all.

"Every time you think you catch someone, God hits you with a two-by-four," Gainer says.

Gainer was trained to be a teacher and believed in giving students what they earned. Early in his career, he flunked seven seniors who needed the credit to graduate. The principal overturned the grades. Gainer turned in his resignation and came to work in the family business. When his father fell ill, he took over.

Eventually, Gainer returned to education, coordinating a mechanic training program between Portland Community College and auto dealers. When he retired, he got more and more involved at his beloved parish.  

Gainer was not thrilled to be the subject of a news story. "I'm below the radar," he says. "The less I'm out there the better." But his peers honored him as St. Vincent de Paul volunteer of the year.

Gainer does more than work at St. Vincent de Paul. He's a sacristan and greeter. He takes part in Bible study and helps with the annual parish spaghetti dinner.

Gainer volunteers at the Francis Center on Southeast 82nd Avenue, which provides food and clothes to needy people in the district.

"He's been very loyal in his duties," says Franciscan Father Patrick Evard, longtime director of the center. Father Evard sees Gainer as a strong liaison between the center and the parish who is skilled at public relations.  

"I hope I'm that good at his age," says Franciscan Father Ben Innes, pastor of Ascension. "He's a good soul; he's energetic. He's the kindest man and he brings out the best in people."





Advanced Search






Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved