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EUGENE, Ore. - Terry McDonald starting working for St. Vincent de Paul in 1971. He took over as director in 1984.
"It was a much smaller operation," he recalled. "It had about 27 staff, a couple of stores. We didn't have any housing. We had no social service office."
The organization served an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people per year.
What has happened over the last three decades led the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce to award McDonald this year's First Citizen recognition. The award will be presented at the annual Celebrate Business event set for Wednesday, January 29, at the Hilton Eugene and Conference Center.
"I was a bit overwhelmed, and I still am," he said. McDonald thought that, as the head of a non-profit, he wouldn't qualify for the business organization's award.
“In our community there are people who make things better for others who are in need,” according to Former Mayor and Past-First Citizen Jim Torrey. “Terry McDonald stands out as a person who not only sees the need, but never hesitates to roll up his sleeves and builds innovative solutions to meet those needs.”
For nearly 30 years, McDonald has remained at the helm as St. Vincent de Paul's impact grew.
The charity now offers 1,100 units of affordable housing. There are 420 people on staff of the organization with a $25 million annual budget.
They serve an estimated 84,000 people per year.
McDonald said his job provides him satisfaction.
"I get up in the morning and know that I'm going to work with people that I like, doing a job that I feel I'm personally capable of doing in a way that creates community benefit," he said. He calls that his "triple-bottom line."
The Churchill High School graduate earned his bachelor degrees in Political Science and History as well as a Masters of Education from the University of Oregon.