Ashland Food Angels

A Rogue Valley Grassroots Volunteer Organization

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 class.

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.