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Remembering Long-Time Volunteer Darlene Brunson

Neighborhood House Senior Center invites members to remember the life of Darlene Brunson

On Wednesday, July 12, at 11 a.m., the Neighborhood House Senior Center will celebrate the life of Darlene Mae Brunson.

Known for her caring nature, Darlene volunteered at the senior center for over 20 years, helping keep the Center clean and members fed. She first attended the center with her husband but quickly became a regular volunteer.

“Well, it happened this way. My husband and I, we came to visit. Just to sit down. And I started pushing the carpet sweeper and fiddling around, and one day one of the case workers said, ‘Darlene, would you have time to cut up some pastry for the kitchen?'” Darlene said during an interview with KATU2 in 2018. “And from then on, it’s just … I’m here.”

In 2018, KATU2 Everyday Heroes honored and recognized Darlene for her years of volunteer work at the the Neighborhood House Senior Center.

During her volunteer time at the Senior Center, Darlene was the consummate hostess, making sure everything was organized, clean and cared for. Darlene would wake up every morning at 5:30 a.m. so that she could be at the center by 7:30 a.m. to start the coffee. Throughout the day she organized donations, delivered pastries to community police officers that shared the building, constantly swept, washed the dishes, and made sure all senior center members were well taken care of.

“I help others, but in turn it’s helping me.”

Darlene brunson

“Even when she was having a bad day she would flash a small smile,” said Tracy, another Senior Center members and volunteer.

After the senior center closed for the day, Darlene would cross the street to Meals on Wheels to get boxes of their empty plastic vegetable bags and cut out the QR codes on them, which Meals on Wheels was then able to turn into donations – more than $4000 over the years, thanks to Darlene’s snipping skills.

“It’s good to keep busy and help people,” Darlene said. “And that’s why I do it.” Helping people was what she did for most of her life. After graduating from Multnomah School in 1938, Darlene worked at Fulton Park Dairy, awake by 3:00 a.m. to feed about 50 people. She went on to work at Stidd’s alongside her father for over 40 years, making tamales, chicken broth and Portland Punch, among many other tasks.

Darlene will be remembered for her friendly smile and tireless service to the Senior Center. Darlene’s favorite saying was “work is play I enjoy” and a quote she loved was “I help others, but in turn it’s helping me.” Darlene helped others her whole life and she leaves behind a beautiful history of giving.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.finleysunsethills.com for the Brunson family.

For more information on events held by the Senior Center, visit nhpdx.org/senior-services-2/.