With Food from the Sunshine Division
Since March, my daughter Tess and I have knocked on over one thousand different front doors
Front doors in sprawling apartment complexes. In mobile home parks and secure, mid-rise buildings. Front doors of worn-down bungalows and simple suburban ranch homes. And, at doorways in Dignity Village near 33rd and Marine Drive, and the Kenton Women’s Village, a collection of small shed-like tiny homes, fenced in an industrial area near Columbia Blvd.
We deliver emergency food boxes deep in NoPo or around the outer east side of the City weekly.
That people live in much simpler conditions than we enjoy is not a revelation. It’s more a sad confirmation of how many people in our city are struggling. And so many on the east side. But, that’s another story.
Since the start of the pandemic, calls to the Portland Police Sunshine Division have greatly increased from people seeking emergency food boxes. Sunshine responded immediately, expanding their regular assistance program by securing a vacant Safeway store in northeast Portland to become the hub for an even larger, ongoing response.
Tess and I joined their delivery staff in March for what we thought would be a few weeks of service. Now, nine months later, we are still at it making about 20 stops each Monday and Wednesday morning. For Tess, this effort replaces her regular volunteering at Providence Hospital which was curtailed with the arrival of the virus. People who know Tess can vouch for her generous spirit. For me, this experience allows me to serve and to spend meaningful time with my daughter.
Those to whom we deliver are diverse. They are families, big and small, and singles. They are young, old, physically-challenged, and sometimes recent immigrants. Those we see are always grateful, waving to us and calling “thank you” as we drive away.
It’s a humbling reminder that not everyone in our neighborhoods lives with the same conveniences we know.
Each day, I think about how challenging some tasks must be. Grocery shopping cannot be easy if you don’t have a dependable car, let alone enough money in your food budget. I’m reminded how difficult it must be to do laundry for your family after first rustling up quarters then hauling clothes and towels down the hall or down the street.
Many times, a glance inside these homes reveals barely furnished rooms. I think about moms at home with kids, stuck inside during the pandemic and I wonder how they are handling online learning.
With schools and libraries closed, and household budgets stretched, do these kids have any books of their own in which to retreat?
With Books from Big Yard
With schools and libraries closed and household budgets stretched, do the kids we see have any books of their own in which to retreat? We couldn’t stop thinking about kids stuck at home. Dropping off food is important, but Tess and I want ed to do more. So I reached out to Big Yard Foundation. Founded by Brennan Scarlett, a Central Catholic graduate now playing for the Houston Texans, his foundation is committed to improving children’s literacy. Immediately, Big Yard provided us with various age-appropriate books and book bags that we deliver on our changing weekly route. They are always enthusiastically received. It’s great for the kids and extra enjoyable for us.
Cory Company is grateful for the blessings it knows and the ability to serve.