Ashland Food Angel Stories
The impact of the Ashland Food Angels project is counted
in terms greater than just redistributing food to organizations
that feed the hungry. Success of the project is also displayed
in the positive impact on the lives of individuals and organizations
through the interactions of Pamala Joy and her volunteers.
Here are some of their success stories.
From Pamala Joy, Founder, Director and Lead Angel
Often I have had yard sales to raise money for the Food
Angel project, selling things of my own or things I have
gathered from others.
One year a friend and housemate, named Otter, donated
his collection of golf items - clubs, bags, balls, etc
- hundreds of items he had squirreled away in a storage
locker somewhere. Of course many of these golf items did
not sell and I needed to think of the best place for them
to go, as it is my goal to donate items to the most appropriate
place I can find. I got clear that the best solution would
be to take them to the sports department of the Ashland
High School. As I knew the head coach there, this was
an easy contact. Though John told me the boy's team had
enough golf equipment, he directed me to Ms. Sanchez,
then the women's coach, who was delighted with the donation.
I later learned that because of this gift, she was able
to start the Girl's Golf Team at Ashland High! That was
a lovely connection.
While at the High School, I left my phone number, in
case there were students in need of food. Within a few
weeks I had a call from Caroline Spear, who runs the Catalyst
program, which is an alternative program for students
who do not want to be in the mainstream school program.
Apparently there were many students going to school with
no food and no money to buy food, so teachers were using
their own money to help them. After receiving the call,
I delivered food the very next day and started a twice
weekly delivery the following week, not only to Catalyst,
but also to the other alternative program, SAEJ, and for
the special needs classes.
Not very much later I received a letter from Caroline
explaining the difference our food had made in the lives
of these young people. She said that many of them had
felt negative about themselves and life, believing that
no one cared about them, that life was about lack and
failure, and there was not much to hope about. Many of
them resisted coming to school altogether. After the food
boxes started arriving, students became excited to attend
classes to see what would come in the boxes. They were
amazed that "some lady who didn't even know them"
would care enough to bring them food. They felt cared
about, and began to feel more positive about themselves
and more hopeful. They started believing that the world
was abundant rather than a place of lack. Caroline said
that it made an amazing change in the atmosphere of the
A short while later, I began the program of speaking
in each of the four main classes, to share with the students
not only about the program but about my unusual life,
encouraging them to have belief in their dreams and follow
their goals. I let them know that success comes in many
forms and that people don't have to have a lot of money
to achieve their dreams. Students began coming to my home
to put in work hours which went towards their graduation
requirements. One student achieved all of her required
100 hours with the Food Angels, working in the program
for two years. I continue to speak to the classes at least
once and usually twice a year.
From Tim Fadden, Computer Wizard
Just a few years into this new millennium, I became disabled
and unable to work. Our government disagreed and denied
me any benefits. My wife took a second job; yet within
several years, our savings were gone, our future uncertain,
and I was massively depressed and lacking purpose. My
dear friend Jeff had been working with the Food Angels
and helped me to get involved. To my delight, my diminished
computer skills still had value. I helped to update the
Food Angel's computer data, created and maintain this
website and perform occasional pickups and deliveries.
I felt revitalized. I had a purpose again, a sense of
belonging and new friends. But most importantly, I was
also able to feed my family, once again.
To my surprise, I discovered that my inability to continue
to provide for my family, this lack as my families patriarch,
was the primary cause of my depression. One box of food
each week not only provided necessary sustenance, but
made me feel more adequate as a father and husband.
More from Pamala Joy
- At one point I learned that the Ashland Emergency Food
Bank was spending over $100 a week on buying bread to
give away. I asked them to stop that immediately and the
Food Angels began to take bread to the Food Bank five
days a week. We donate most of the bread they give away,
hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. One year alone
we donated 20,000 pounds! Needless to say, they don't
have to spend money on bread any longer. We also donate
vegetables to the Food Bank on a regular basis.
- In the early years of the Food Angels, I began to donate
to the HeadStart program, which is half a block from my
house. The family advocate there at the time, Sue Lopez,
used the opportunity to teach the families about healthier
ways of eating, using the vegetables we provided. Often
there were foods that were unfamiliar and she could teach
the parents how to use these new 'real' foods instead
of processed foods.
- Also, in the early days, I connected to the Peace House
community meal program, Uncle Food's Diner, which was
offered once a week to anyone in the community who wanted
to go to eat there. They rarely had fresh foods and I
began delivering many boxes of produce each Tuesday. We
have continued with that tradition for many years and
currently provide a great deal of the food which is used
for that meal. We also have given food to some of the
smaller community meals which are offered at the Gazebo
in Lithia Park.
- Before the Market of Choice was open to the public,
I had contacted the managers about donating to the Food
Angels, so they have been a major contributor since the
opening of the store. At one point I became aware that
their recycling program was not in place, and with the
help of one of the employees, who felt as impassioned
as I did about recycling, we were able to get the store
to recycle not only cardboard and glass, but also metal,
paper and plastics. To ensure that it was going to be
successful, I went into the store on a daily basis for
half a year to move the recycling from the indoor bins
to the big bins on the outside. Then my drivers took over
that responsibility and now the store has taken it on.
- Each year the Red Earth Descendants (Native Americans)
offer a camp to young people of Native American descent.
The first year I knew about it was when a station wagon
appeared in my driveway and two women were asking for
food for the camp. We filled their car to capacity, which
enabled them to feed the kids for a week, and each year
since then we give several carloads of food to help the
camp. We also donate whenever the Red Earth people are
doing another event, like winter storytelling week-ends.
- Once a family of seven showed up at my house. I don't
know how they knew about me, but they had just driven
from North Carolina, had no food and little money and
five young children. I gave them several boxes of food
and the addresses of the food banks and other organizations
where they could gather food on a regular basis, as the
Food Angels are not allowed to be a walk-up food bank.