In the past two years, the Eastern Oregon Presbytery – a union of Presbyterian churches in Eastern Oregon – has invested $21,000 for a community center project in Lostine and earmarked another $21,000 for that same project in 2013.
During those two years, what once was a large parsonage for the Lostine Presbyterian Church has been converted into a community center open to the public.
That community center includes a commercial kitchen, a group and sewing room, and a respite room where people can stay without charge to weather challenging times.
As well, a community garden has been designed, planted, and fenced; efforts have been made to keep the only grocery store within a seven-mile radius – M. Crow and Co. – open and thriving; and June’s Local Market, catty-corner across Highway 82 from that grocery outlet, has become a site where more than 80 vendors sell their products.
June Colony, owner of June’s Market and listed as hunger action enabler for the Presbytery project, says vendors keep 90 percent of what’s sold at her market and that those vendors range in age from 3 to 89.
What formerly was the living room in the parsonage has been remodeled into a commercial kitchen where, around an island, several cooks easily can utilize three ovens at the same time, says Vickie Crane, center coordinator. That kitchen now is classified as a certified baking kitchen.
In addition to Crane’s part-time paid position, work also has been generated for a rotating staff of individuals who perform the role of clerk at June’s Market.
One professional baker, Noma McDaniel, regularly uses the kitchen to bake bread she sells commercially. In addition, many volunteers pool efforts to make soups, breads, and desserts to sell on Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the “Soup Nook” located above the Crow store.
Money raised at the Soup Nook goes, in part, to support the mercantile.
Colony says the practically new double oven for the center was purchased at a yard sale for $10.
The use of three new sewing machines and fabric now are available at that civic focal point as well as quilting classes, child daycare on Fridays, and art programs for children.
Upgrade work at the new community center before it became operational included extensive electrical improvements and painting.
Projected plans to utilize the $21,000 the Eastern Oregon Presbytery has approved for the project in 2013 include expanding the garden, and hiring an instructor to give gardening classes next year.
Colony says one goal for next year is to secure a food-processing license for the commercial kitchen. With such a designation, people will be able to prepare food in the kitchen and then sell it.