Ashland community group takes on hunger one meal at a time

russel

WE (Wellness for Everyone) began with a post on Facebook where Amy Reer asked if it would be possible to feed some homeless people, or would the city shut down such an action. Many people responded and it quickly grew into an action where Pioneer Hall was rented for several hours on an afternoon in late November 2015. Dozens of volunteers worked together to prepare food, donate warm clothing and about 60 people were served a hot, nutritious meal.

In December, the group came together again and just a few days before Christmas, a giant feast was served in Pioneer Hall. About 100 people ate, received needed articles of clothing and basked in the warmth of community.

Plans were made to keep WE going and in February the scene continued in Railroad Park on a sunny afternoon. From my notes from that day:

I was hoping that the homeless woman I met yesterday would show up at the meal. She said she would, but I know that sometimes people have trouble keeping track of time. There’s a sleeping bag in our trunk and I will keep my eyes peeled and hope I can find her soon.

We fed about 50 people (Russell Weiler made a delicious tomato based sauce with spices,grilled onions and zucchini and penne pasta), salad, bread and butter, brownie cupcakes, chocolate pecan cupcakes, and banana bread. We had about 10 volunteers. It was a great day.

Here’s the best part. A couple weeks ago a woman contacted me and said her friend had a really nice coat she wanted to go to a homeless woman and could she send it to me? I said yes, of course, but then I got terribly sick with that flu and so when it came I was not able to get right out and find who it was supposed to go to. I felt so bad about that, but recognized that I needed to get healthy again first and so I just set it aside for this community meal. I didn’t put a call out for clothing as I knew it would be too much for me to juggle. The coat came with some really great hiking boots.

Towards the end of the meal, Jason and I walked around and checked in with many of the homeless people who were around for the meal. We found a woman who said she’s often cold and she tried on the coat. It fit perfectly. It was a North Face coat and will provide a layer of warmth that will help keep her alive. Then she told me about her feet. Sometimes she and her partner walk up to 20 miles a day. Recently she twisted her ankle and her ankle and foot was painfully swollen. I see that happening a lot with homeless people. They rely on their feet to get everywhere and as a result they are often in terrible pain and susceptible to injury. She sat down near me and carefully took her old shoes off. I watched as pain crossed her face. She gently tried on the boots and the look on her face softened. I’m certain her feet still hurt to some extent, but it was much better.

She hugged me before she walked off. “You made my day,” she told me. “No,” I said, “You just made mine.”

I love my community.

Would you like to get involved with the March meal? Contact Jason at 541.290.2807 or Vanessa at sunriver@gmail.com