Eager to serve: Brad Brenden receives Distinguished Service Award

February 2016 Posted in People
2015 Distinguished Service award recipient Brad Brenden

2015 Distinguished Service award recipient Brad Brenden

By Melissa Wagoner

A popular place to be on Wednesday nights is at the First Christian Church’s Community Dinner, a gathering spot for those living in and around Silverton. It is paid for through donations, but free to those in need.

Founded by Pastor Steve Knox and a group of “founding ladies,” nearly 150,000 dinners have been served at the church to date. That is the equivalent of nearly 15 dinners for every Silverton resident.

Serving food on this scale can be a challenge for restaurants boasting paid staff, but when the staff is based on volunteers it becomes even more difficult. Many people volunteer occasionally, but luckily, at least one man has volunteered nearly every week for the last six years.

For his work at the church, Brad Brenden has received Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service award.

“Most every Wednesday Brad starts around 9 a.m. and his duties usually continue past 7:30 p.m. For several years Brad has washed the dishes for the Community Dinner after spending his morning helping to prepare the food for the event. Washing dishes is a task that most everyone has done, a little menial and boring, but not overly taxing, until you do it for 400 plus people,” Todd Ferrell said.

Brenden’s work is not just relegated to the kitchen. He also pends time working with other volunteers and gathering supplies for upcoming meals.

“We order our meat from Bruce Pac and someone has to pick it up from the plant. Brad not only offers to do it every time but he hauls the 400 to 600 pounds of meat by himself and stocks it in the freezer,” Julie Bersen, a co-founder of the Wednesday night dinner, said.

When Brenden is not at the church he is often helping his fellow residents in other ways.

“We moved my folks to Silverton from Bend. Dad had a horse so we had to build a barn quickly before winter and rain set in. A few of the guys from our church were going to help him put it up. Brad heard about it. He not only showed up to help but I still remember watching him throw a truss on a shoulder and climb the ladder while it took four guys to hold the other end. We built that barn in one day thanks to Brad’s help,” Bersen recalled.

Brenden volunteers with several other community organizations including; Marion-Polk Food Share, Silverton Health’s CareVan and the Patriot Guard Riders, a non-profit organization that honors fallen soldiers, honorably discharged veterans and first responders.

“Whenever he hears of a fallen soldier he hops on his Harley and joins the other riders as they follow the hearse with flags flying,” Bersen said.

More than 45 community members signed the petition nominating Brenden for the Distinguished Service Award and voicing their agreement with Bersen and Ferrell.

Ferrell summed up the overall feeling with these words at the closing of his nomination letter, “I am certain there are other worthy nominees for the Distinguished Service Award but I cannot imagine there is anyone more worthy than Brad Brenden.”

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