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  • Jim Townsend

Wagon Wheel Owners Show Dedication to Supporting Local Non-Profits

If you have lived in Portland for any amount of time, you have probably heard about one non-profit group or another having a fundraiser at the Wagon Wheel. From wine tasting events, to comedy nights, to 20% back events, Terry “Chopper” and Jonda Schrauben have been using their establishment to give back to local non-profits for years.

As for the wine tasting events, Chopper say they, “started about 12 years ago. We loved wine tasting and wondered how we could get people who typically don’t drink wine to start enjoying something that was only available at wineries. We decided to give back to non-profits as a way to have fun and give back. We charge $20 per person for beer and wine tasting. It usually costs us about $11-12 to facilitate. We also give back $10 to the non-profit for each person that participates. We do this once a month and have a great time.”

The Portland High School softball program was the beneficiary of a wine tasting event in 2016. When asked about his experience, PHS varsity softball head coach Jack Anderson said, “Jonda and Chopper were very easy to work with. Without a great deal of work on our part, we had a very successful fundraiser.”

The comedy nights started about three years ago according to Chopper. He said, “We always strive to be/or do different events that other people aren’t doing. With the size of our facility we thought comedy would be a great idea and give non-profits a way to raise money without much effort. After we pay the bills the typical non-profit gets a donation of anywhere between $1,200-$1,700.”

The 20% back events were added to the calendar just last fall. For these events, 20% of all sales during a particular time frame goes back to an organization, as long as the customer presents a customized coupon from that non-profit to their server. The organizations are allowed to distribute the coupons to their audience in advance of the event.

The Portland Tackle Football Association, also known as Jr. Raider youth football and cheer, just had their second 20% back event, where they raised $1,496.93. This total includes the 20% back, as well as proceeds from three 50/50 raffles during the event.

PTFA Board President Pete Hoffmeyer said, “The Wagon Wheel has always been a great partner for fundraising. Chopper and Jonda Schrauben are always very cooperative and accommodating as well as the staff. As a President of a non-profit organization, it’s great to work with owners as vested in the local community as Chopper and Jonda are.”

The support that Chopper and Jonda show local non-profits is not limited to the events alone. It is also worth pointing out that for almost six years now, they have allowed the Portland Youth Baseball League to operate two baseball diamonds on the property behind the Wagon Wheel. This includes both regular season practices and games, as well as multiple weekend tournaments. When asked for the background of this arrangement, Chopper said, “We had been purchasing land around us whenever it came available due to the fact that we needed more parking. About six years ago we were approached by Portland Youth Baseball because they were in need of fields. We decided to put the fields in. We were typically slower in the summer then and thought it could be a win win situation for all parties involved.”

As a former coach for PYBL, I can attest to the fact that on many occasions, my family has had dinner at the Wagon Wheel after a ball game, and that there are usually several other baseball families in there. The convenience, in conjunction with hungry kids, is a match made in heaven for a busy parent.

As for the history of the business itself, Chopper says, “Meadow Bowl Lanes was built in 1962 as Evergreen Lanes. The Wagon Wheel was located across the road. Evergreen went bankrupt and Ron and Dorothy Lennemen moved the Wagon Wheel to its current location in the Meadow Bowl. My Dad and my uncle Ken bought the facility in 1972. We purchased in 1997.”

When I asked Chopper why hosting these events at the Wagon Wheel was important to them, he said, “All we can say is that our philosophy is that everyone in life has a STORY. Every person that works for you or that you encounter in your day to day life. Everyone’s story is different and we never know what it is like to walk in their shoes. God has blessed us in our lives and we love to give back and have fun at the same time.”

He added, “We very rarely turn down people for a donation. We always feel that we would rather help other people out instead of it being the other way around. We live in a great community and will always support it and give people the opportunity to bring people together and help out anyway we can. Last year alone we were able to return over $20,000 back to our organizations.”

Pictured above from left to right is Jonda Schrauben, PTFA Fundraising Coordinator Angie Edlund, and Terry "Chopper" Schrauben.

Disclosure: The Portland Beacon publisher Jim Townsend serves on the PTFA executive board. PTFA President Pete Hoffmeyer is also a volunteer contributor to The Portland Beacon, currently covering PHS football.

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