Founder of Helping Hands Passes

  Pastor Lester Bailey    December 5, 1942 — October 25, 2018   After a long battle of kidney failure due to diabetes, “Pastor” Lester Bailey, 75, made the glorious transition from this earth to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, October 25, 2018.  He passed away peacefully with his family surrounding him and his precious pocket Bible echoing God’s Word throughout the room. His devotion to his family and strong belief in God supported him in his struggle with his sickness, but also gave him and his loved ones peace.  He was born to the late Lester E Bailey Sr. and the late Una Butcher in Richwood, West Virginia. He grew up very poor and didn’t get to complete high school because he needed to help support the family. He was always a hard worker.  Over the years has worked for the Hillbilly Press in West Virginia, as a Democrat-Herald photographer, worked for Albany Fire Department, Bailey Janitorial & Carpet Cleaning, Safeway, as a school bus driver, manager at Hillhouse/Santiam Terrace and Walnut Court Apartments, and assistant pastor at First Church of God. He also has served as interim pastor at many locations around the state, and as pastor at Oak Hill Community Church. He was Church of God Summer White Branch Youth Camp Director and Children’s Church Director at State Camp meeting, Hospice and Hospital Chaplain and Founder/Director of Albany Helping Hands Homeless Shelter.  His family moved to Oregon in 1960 where he became a member of the first Church of God in Albany. At that time, he also began work at the Albany Fire Department, where he soon developed his lifelong friendship with Lyle Vogt.  In 1963, he returned to West Virginia for a short visit where he met his first wife, Billie Joyce Colvin. They were married after a short three-week courtship and then moved back to Oregon where he continued to work for the Albany Fire Department until 1969. He developed many friendships through the fire department and was very proud to be included in the firehouse museum and the retired fireman’s breakfast club.  After working at the fire department, he went to work for the family janitorial business and also became an ordained minister. As a young boy in West Virginia, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and he has been a server of God ever since. In 1984, Lester got the opportunity to start Oakhill Community Church. They had many groups evolve out of that church, including the Oakhill Gospel Singers, led by his sister Jean, in which Lester was part of the band playing his “Jaw Harp.”  Additionally, without realizing it at the time, the beginning of the church also marked the beginning of his “Homeless Ministry.” Growing up poor, Lester’s heart was always to help the poor and needy so he wanted to find a way to help those that needed it the most. In a joint effort with other local churches, they would make sack lunches at the church and then Lester and Arlene Casey, the church bus driver at the time, would distribute those to the people in need.  Over the years, things evolved and they began using the church as the homeless shelter. He had a great ability to generate support from many local churches and organizations who saw the vision while just trying to help the poor.  Little did he know that 14 years later in 1998 that Albany Helping Hands would become a reality. Lester not only ensured that a homeless shelter would exist in Albany but he led the shelter with the utmost love and respect for the shelter guests and personnel for 10 years.  His love for all those who came in contact with him was evident. Never would you walk away from Lester without having smiled, for he always left people better than he found them. His Legacy will be forever remembered by the community for this great organization he founded.  In 2009, after the death of his first wife, he married Arlene (Jones) Casey, where they continued the ministries of the church and Albany Helping Hands.  Some of his hobbies included gold panning, metal detecting and writing. In fact, in 1975 he was hit by a car and during that time off of work he put his mind to writing and during that time he wrote three books of poems. Additionally, Lester was a collector of many things including coins, Bibles and most importantly, friends. His most cherished moments were spent praying and studying in his Bible, as well as spending time with his family at Saturday breakfast and he especially enjoyed camping in Quartzville. He always said that when he was camping he always felt closer to God.  Surviving members of his family include his wife, Arlene; sister, Jean Nelson; brother, Randy Bailey; children, James Bailey and girlfriend, Beverly Gold, Deborah Bailey and partner, Eartha Helton, Melodi Cadwell and husband, Jason Cadwell, Kristin Casey, Ryan Casey, Jason Casey and Barb and Jared Thayer, who he loved as his own kids; granddaughters, Jordan Bailey, Rhianna Cadwell and Melissa Cadwell; close friends, Roger Hicks and Jim Sapp; as well as many other nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his father, Lester E Bailey Sr.; mother, Una (Butcher) Bailey; brothers, Charles Bailey and Bill Bailey; as well as Lyle Vogt, who he loved like a brother and Grace Gantt, who he loved like a sister.  The family would like to thank the team of doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Corvallis, the North Albany dialysis center and Call A Ride for all of their hard work and care for Lester.  There will be a memorial service held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, at Hope Church (formerly Assembly of God) 2817 Santiam Hwy. SE, Albany, OR 97322. Fisher Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.  We ask that in lieu of flowers please make a contribution to one of Lester’s three favorite groups: Albany Helping Hands, Feed the Children or Gideon’s in care of Fisher Funeral Home, 306 SW Washington St., Albany, OR 97321.  Lester had a passion and zeal for preaching God’s word. He loved to share God’s love not only in word but also in deed. His servant’s heart and love for Jesus compelled him to connect with people in a meaningful way. He led countless people to know Jesus as their Savior and left a legacy of authentic love. Lester will be sorely missed by the community, his family and friends.  Online condolences for the family may be posted at www.fisherfuneralhome.com.  The full Obituary from the Albany Democrat-Herald web site is available by   clicking here.     (c) 2018 Albany Democrat-Herald

Pastor Lester Bailey

December 5, 1942 — October 25, 2018

After a long battle of kidney failure due to diabetes, “Pastor” Lester Bailey, 75, made the glorious transition from this earth to be with his Lord and Savior on Thursday, October 25, 2018.

He passed away peacefully with his family surrounding him and his precious pocket Bible echoing God’s Word throughout the room. His devotion to his family and strong belief in God supported him in his struggle with his sickness, but also gave him and his loved ones peace.

He was born to the late Lester E Bailey Sr. and the late Una Butcher in Richwood, West Virginia. He grew up very poor and didn’t get to complete high school because he needed to help support the family. He was always a hard worker.

Over the years has worked for the Hillbilly Press in West Virginia, as a Democrat-Herald photographer, worked for Albany Fire Department, Bailey Janitorial & Carpet Cleaning, Safeway, as a school bus driver, manager at Hillhouse/Santiam Terrace and Walnut Court Apartments, and assistant pastor at First Church of God. He also has served as interim pastor at many locations around the state, and as pastor at Oak Hill Community Church. He was Church of God Summer White Branch Youth Camp Director and Children’s Church Director at State Camp meeting, Hospice and Hospital Chaplain and Founder/Director of Albany Helping Hands Homeless Shelter.

His family moved to Oregon in 1960 where he became a member of the first Church of God in Albany. At that time, he also began work at the Albany Fire Department, where he soon developed his lifelong friendship with Lyle Vogt.

In 1963, he returned to West Virginia for a short visit where he met his first wife, Billie Joyce Colvin. They were married after a short three-week courtship and then moved back to Oregon where he continued to work for the Albany Fire Department until 1969. He developed many friendships through the fire department and was very proud to be included in the firehouse museum and the retired fireman’s breakfast club.

After working at the fire department, he went to work for the family janitorial business and also became an ordained minister. As a young boy in West Virginia, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and he has been a server of God ever since. In 1984, Lester got the opportunity to start Oakhill Community Church. They had many groups evolve out of that church, including the Oakhill Gospel Singers, led by his sister Jean, in which Lester was part of the band playing his “Jaw Harp.”

Additionally, without realizing it at the time, the beginning of the church also marked the beginning of his “Homeless Ministry.” Growing up poor, Lester’s heart was always to help the poor and needy so he wanted to find a way to help those that needed it the most. In a joint effort with other local churches, they would make sack lunches at the church and then Lester and Arlene Casey, the church bus driver at the time, would distribute those to the people in need.

Over the years, things evolved and they began using the church as the homeless shelter. He had a great ability to generate support from many local churches and organizations who saw the vision while just trying to help the poor.

Little did he know that 14 years later in 1998 that Albany Helping Hands would become a reality. Lester not only ensured that a homeless shelter would exist in Albany but he led the shelter with the utmost love and respect for the shelter guests and personnel for 10 years.

His love for all those who came in contact with him was evident. Never would you walk away from Lester without having smiled, for he always left people better than he found them. His Legacy will be forever remembered by the community for this great organization he founded.

In 2009, after the death of his first wife, he married Arlene (Jones) Casey, where they continued the ministries of the church and Albany Helping Hands.

Some of his hobbies included gold panning, metal detecting and writing. In fact, in 1975 he was hit by a car and during that time off of work he put his mind to writing and during that time he wrote three books of poems. Additionally, Lester was a collector of many things including coins, Bibles and most importantly, friends. His most cherished moments were spent praying and studying in his Bible, as well as spending time with his family at Saturday breakfast and he especially enjoyed camping in Quartzville. He always said that when he was camping he always felt closer to God.

Surviving members of his family include his wife, Arlene; sister, Jean Nelson; brother, Randy Bailey; children, James Bailey and girlfriend, Beverly Gold, Deborah Bailey and partner, Eartha Helton, Melodi Cadwell and husband, Jason Cadwell, Kristin Casey, Ryan Casey, Jason Casey and Barb and Jared Thayer, who he loved as his own kids; granddaughters, Jordan Bailey, Rhianna Cadwell and Melissa Cadwell; close friends, Roger Hicks and Jim Sapp; as well as many other nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, Lester E Bailey Sr.; mother, Una (Butcher) Bailey; brothers, Charles Bailey and Bill Bailey; as well as Lyle Vogt, who he loved like a brother and Grace Gantt, who he loved like a sister.

The family would like to thank the team of doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Corvallis, the North Albany dialysis center and Call A Ride for all of their hard work and care for Lester.

There will be a memorial service held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, at Hope Church (formerly Assembly of God) 2817 Santiam Hwy. SE, Albany, OR 97322. Fisher Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

We ask that in lieu of flowers please make a contribution to one of Lester’s three favorite groups: Albany Helping Hands, Feed the Children or Gideon’s in care of Fisher Funeral Home, 306 SW Washington St., Albany, OR 97321.

Lester had a passion and zeal for preaching God’s word. He loved to share God’s love not only in word but also in deed. His servant’s heart and love for Jesus compelled him to connect with people in a meaningful way. He led countless people to know Jesus as their Savior and left a legacy of authentic love. Lester will be sorely missed by the community, his family and friends.

Online condolences for the family may be posted at www.fisherfuneralhome.com.

The full Obituary from the Albany Democrat-Herald web site is available by clicking here.

(c) 2018 Albany Democrat-Herald

Jennifer Moody Albany Democrat-Herald Nov 1, 2018

Jesus told his followers to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger.

So Les Bailey did. Every day.

The founder, chaplain and retired executive director of Albany's Helping Hands homeless shelter, whom most people just called "Pastor," died Oct. 25 at 75, leaving a lifetime's legacy of helping those in need.

A memorial service is scheduled at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Hope Church, 2817 Santiam

Highway SE. Instead of flowers, family members are asking for memorial contributions to some of Bailey's favorite charities: Feed the Children, Gideons International or the Helping Hands shelter he created.

"Les Bailey had one of the biggest hearts our community has ever seen. He devoted his life to serving the less fortunate," Mayor Sharon Konopa said. "Helping Hands Homeless Shelter lived up to its name from Les Bailey's helping and caring hands."

John Donovan, who volunteered with Bailey at the shelter for years and is currently development director, summed it up this way: "In my church, he's a saint."

Bailey grew up in West Virginia and knew what it was like to be poor, his family said. He worked to support his family and wasn't able to finish high school.

He moved with his family to Oregon in 1960 and worked at a variety of jobs, including janitorial work, driving a school bus, managing an apartment complex and working for the Albany Fire Department, before starting Oak Hill Community Church in 1984.

In a 1993 document kept by his family, Bailey himself wrote he didn't actually start the church. God did that, he said. "It was already going when I jumped on board. I was between Pastorates and waiting upon the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do, and where He wanted me to go."

Still, Bailey's name was the one that came to be associated with the church and with its efforts to help the homeless, which eventually developed into a shelter that today houses more than 100 people each night.

The nondenominational, faith-based nonprofit is now a 501(c)(3) organization that operates a kitchen, a thrift store, a chicken farm, a wood lot, a U-Haul dealership, and seasonal efforts such as warming and cooling centers and Christmas tree lots in addition to the shelter.

It began with food. Oak Hill joined other churches in making sack lunches each week. Bailey — usually accompanied by Arlene Casey, then the church's bus driver — would hand them out to anyone he could find.

Don Albright remembers those days. "We called him the Sandwich Man back then," he said. "He'd go Sunday morning with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

Some of the people Bailey spoke with would tell him they didn't have anywhere to stay.

"He’d say, 'Well, we'll make room,'" Albright recalled. "I've never seen him turn anyone down."

And that was how Helping Hands began. At first, Bailey simply let people in need sleep in the church building itself, at 103 Main St. S.E., or in a teepee on the church's property.

"God laid on my heart Luke 4:18-19," Bailey wrote, "which reads: 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

The shelter effort became a formal nonprofit in 1998. It operated for a few years at 1989 Santiam Highway SE, then began a campaign in late 2002 to buy its current property at 619 Ninth Ave.

Bailey, as founder and executive director, made the shelter his second home. Jim Sapp, chaplain and current president of the board of directors for Helping Hands, got to know him there.

"We both loved the Lord, and it was a wonderful experience knowing the man," he said. "How many people do you know that run out of gas on the way home because they gave their last dollar to a homeless guy?"

Bailey's faith was steadfast and unchanging, no matter the circumstances, Sapp recalled. Once, he remembered, the shelter's cook came to Bailey in a panic, half an hour or so before lunch was to be served, to say the kitchen had no bread.

"What are we going to do?" Sapp remembered the cook telling Bailey. "He says, 'Did you try praying? No? Well, let's pray.'"

The two did, and when they said, "Amen," Sapp remembered, "There came the bread truck, driving in the driveway. "Is that fast enough for you?" he remembers Bailey quipping.

"You know, he never knew how to drive a nail. He never knew how to build anything," Sapp said. "But he knew how to pray, and he built a shelter. The Lord sent him people to help him."

In return, he said, Bailey did everything he could to help others. Once, he brought 100 $5 bills to the shelter and handed one to each person — a fortune to someone without a cent to his name.

Another time, Bailey talked down a man who was lingering at the railing of the bridge over the Willamette River, determined to jump. The man came down and, as Sapp remembers it, agreed to come work in the shelter's garden.

That was, Sapp said, just one example of Bailey's efforts that literally saved a life.

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"The people that he was feeding every day, that he was housing every day — if that isn’t like Christ, I don’t know what is, you know?" Sapp said. "I never met anybody like him. He was the person the most like Christ that I ever met."

It wasn't always easy. Sapp knows of a day a man came at Bailey with a set of nunchucks; two short sticks connected by a chain and used as a martial arts weapon.

The way Sapp remembers the story, Bailey said he closed his eyes and moved forward, toward the man and his weapon.

"He put up his arm, and about that time he heard a bonk, and the guy hit himself in the head. And he went down to the floor," Sapp said. "Pastor said, 'I helped him up and I got the heck out of there.'"

Another time, Sapp said, someone stole the shelter's cleaning equipment, shampooers and all. Bailey didn't call police. Instead, he put out the word at the shelter that he would give $700 cash for the return of the items, no questions asked.

"Lo and behold, in a day or two, here it came," Sapp said. "He never told me who it was. I'm sure he didn't tell anybody. He just loved and he was kind and he believed."

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The ability to love, and to practice that love even under the toughest of circumstances, was Bailey's special ability, said Dan Kress, who served as the shelter's interim director on multiple occasions and now works there part time in support services.

"Things that would normally work me up, get me upset, he'd just kind of chuckle and say, 'Well, that's just human nature, Dan. That's just human nature.'"

Bailey worked with one man for a long time, Kress remembered, trying to get him clean and sober. The man simply kept going back to drugs, and Bailey would patiently start again.

"'It’s a weakness. God will forgive him and it’s our job, too,'" Kress remembered him saying. "I would get frustrated, but he never did."

Sometimes, Kress said, a shelter resident would go to Bailey's office and beg him for $10 for cigarettes, but then go buy alcohol instead. "I'd be mad that they lied, and he'd just give a little chuckle and say, 'Maybe next time they'll learn.'"

That was Bailey, Kress said: "Glass always half full. People are good. God made them and created them and they have worth and they have value, no matter what they did in life. I never saw a more forgiving person in my life. Never.

"I think his big message was God has love for each and every person," Kress went on. "I think that's his legacy, is to remember that everyone has that value and they're all equal. They may make mistakes, but that's OK."

 Pastor Les Bailey, Albany Helping Hands Founder and Former Executive Director (1942-2018)

Pastor Les Bailey, Albany Helping Hands Founder and Former Executive Director (1942-2018)

Tags: • Pastor Les Bailey

• Helping Hands Homeless Shelter

• Oak Hill Community Church

• John Donovan

• Jim Sapp

• Dan Kress

• Don Albright

• Sharon Konopa

by Jennifer Moody, 11/1/2018, (c) 2018 Albany Democrat-Herald