ANGELS IN ASHLAND
As I have written in an earlier article, there are between 20 and 25 volunteers in the Ashland Food Angels at any one time. Generally there is a fairly equal division between males and females, and people work in a variety of capacities: drivers who pick up or deliver the food; food sorters; gardeners; cleaners; and those who help with the gathering and distribution of clothing and household things.
Most volunteers give from four to five hours per week, generally at set times. Some people have been with the program for many years, and each year there are several new volunteers, as previous helpers move on. Rick, Ed and Scott are all part of the Core Group, which meets once or twice a month to guide the program and trouble-shoot.
Rick Schmitt, 67, has been with the Food Angels for over six years, and works primarily as a driver, picking up food and delivering it to the Food Bank and to Head Start. Drawing inspiration from many spiritual paths, Rick is a vegan and part of a local spiritual group which considers service as a part of their practice. His work as a handyman allows him the flexibility to travel, which he loves. Originally from New York State, but an Oregon resident since 1988, Rick explained that he stays with this project because of his strong desire that food not be wasted, because of the sense of community, and because it allows him the flexibility to travel. “I enjoy the whole process and the like-minded people I work with. I do what I can to spread the values of the Food Angels.”
Ed Hirsch, 67, also from New York state, has lived in Ashland about nine years and for a great part of that time he has been one of the Food Angels, where he works as a food sorter. Elsewhere in town he teaches chess and meditation and his other interests include writing, ping-pong, and organic foods. Ed stays with the Angels primarily because he enjoys the sense of community he experiences. “This group allows me to meet interesting people – it is a community of people interested in the organic life style.”
Scott Reeder, 47, and a newer volunteer, having been an Angel only for about a year, was born and raised in Ashland. His family’s name is found in many places, including on the Reeder reservoir. An avid cyclist who likes to read and enjoys the outdoors, he also works with the winter homeless shelters and has a strong focus on community service. “I was called to do this work,” he says. “Pamala needed my help and I was very drawn to be part of this community oriented service work.” Scott also helps sort the food and deliver it to the Food Bank, as well as determining which foods are best directed to the community meals.
Founder, Food Angels