On Saturday, June 25, I attended an event held from noon to 3:00 p.m. under the Washington-Jefferson Bridge, an outreach to those experiencing homelessness in Eugene. Hosted in partnership by the University Fellowship (UFC) and Free People who serves Eugene’s homeless community, everything at this event was free: music, food, beverages, haircuts, clothing, photo sessions and crafts for kids… all provided by volunteers.
Jennifer Brown and her partner Alonzo Cole, along with their children Jorden Cole 5, Zoie Garcia 3 and their friend Celeste Lee 7 attended the event. What brought them is best shared in Jennifer’s own words:
“What brought me to the event was my friend Starrla who is also my daughter’s (Zoie) aunt and Jeff, who is like my dad – we call him Papa. Papa is currently homeless and during the summer he enjoys it most. I myself have lived through the homeless times during my childhood living in cars 5th wheels and tents, in my teen years, up in the mountains off the side of the road. Having parents with drug addictions led to our homelessness. Although I am currently unemployed and life has thus had its struggles, I am doing okay and have a mobile home to call my own. I am very fortunate for the resources the community has to offer and am currently a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul and getting work experience.”
I took photos of Jennifer and her family as they were waiting for the volunteer photographer to do a photo session with them. I told the kids that they could practice their poses with me… “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.
People lined up for the opportunity to pose for a free portrait session with friends and loved ones, like Jennifer’s family and these two buddies here:
I ran into my homeless friend Bobie and hung out with her as she had her hair cut by a volunteer. Although Bobie has had an extremely difficult year, when we talk she not only shares some of her heartbreaks and problems with me, but she shares her amazing, optimistic perspective on what her life could be like in the future, IF…. I think her new look reflects that vibrant glimmer of hope that resonates in her voice and eyes when she talks about her dreams.
Bobie before her haircut.
People lined up and patiently waited their turn for a free haircut.
The new Bobie!
I too am thankful for the resources our community has to offer those experiencing homelessness, and the messages of love in action, faith and hope in Christ shared by UFC and the mission of Free People to serve the homeless, as they say “without requirements or expectations, offering practical assistance for those in need.”
Click here for a list of other resources and social services available to the homeless community in Eugene/Springfield (Lane County, Oregon).
More photos from the event:
Gathering at Washington-Jefferson Park.
Free music. Free clothing.
Food prepared and served by volunteers.
Free medical advice.
Face-painting and crafts for kids of all ages.
by L.E. Erickson