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The Bridge That Brings Us Together 0

Rushing from work, Julie Moore heads home during her lunch to put a pot of goulash on the stove. Normally she serves the beverages, but today…today she’s putting in a little extra effort and is creating a quick one-pot meal to take to the bridge this evening.

Whipping ingredients together in her kitchen and hastily watching the water start to boil – she dumps pasta into frothy water and continues to open cans of tomatoes and beans while pouring them into her crockpot. She works at a quick pace and checks the clock one last time as she heads out the door and zooms back to her desk at the bank for the afternoon.

You see, Julie along with her two girls Sidney and Jayna, will load this “pot of love” into their SUV and drive from Woodburn, 15 miles away, to take part in feeding the homeless under the bridge.

Bridge Menu for August 3rd, 5pm. Marion Street Bridge Salem, OR.

Jen’s Smoked Chicken (The Traeger will be working overtime!)
Hot Dogs
Macaroni & Cheese
Potato Salad
Season Corn
Buttery Peas
Bread Pudding
Chocolate Cake

About 15 miles up the road in Canby, Jolie Pollman finishes teaching a pilates class and eyeballs the time. If traffic works in her favor — she just might make it to the bridge before 5pm! As she quickly says her goodbyes to those who attended her class, she grabs her purse and heads for the door.

Serving under the bridge

Jolie serving under the bridge

Bee-lining it for her car, she pops up a quick facebook comment that lets everyone know “she’s headed to the bridge”!

Carole, Abby, and Sora serving under the bridge

Down I-5, about 25 miles south, Carol Moe wraps up her busy day and loads her car with jugs of lemonade and Sprite. She had thought of making baked potatoes for the folks standing in line, maybe a little something they could take with them – but it was such a hot day, she switches gears on the fly. “Lemonade is always a hit on a hot day” she thinks to herself, as she loads the back of her car with drinks. Grabbing Sora (one of her students) and Abby (her daughter), they hop in the car and they all make their way to the bridge.

Carole, Abby, and Sora serving under the bridge

Carole, Abby, and Sora serving under the bridge

Up the road a few miles, Brent Brimhall…aka “Mr. Hot Dawg”, has finished taking his mom to her doctors appointment. He puts a large commercial size roll of tin foil in his car to donate to WipGirl. The thought of this tin foil covering up Jen’s amazing food…puts a huge smile on his face. He knows this is a much needed donation that will be treasured. He chuckles as he gets in his car – if his math is correct…he has served over 3000 hot dogs since he started helping under the bridge. Smiling he turns into traffic and thinks about a big pot he has up in his cabinet that would be another perfect donation for next month.

Brent Brimhall serving under the bridge

Gracie Rueda sat in front of her new boss. The traffic outside the window on Lancaster Drive reflected the hustle of the lunch shift that was in full swing.
“You see”, she said…”I do this thing, where I go help cook enough food to feed 150 people, and then we all convoy with our cars loaded full of food to the Marion Street Bridge. There we serve the homeless people who wait in line. I do this the first two Wednesdays of the month, so may I have those afternoons off?”

Her new boss, sat back, and looked at this 18-year old girl. Based on her resume, she had only just graduated.

Gracie Rueda Serving under the bridge

“Yes,” he says smiling. Of course she can have Wednesday afternoons off. He smiles and nods his head in approval. He’s going to keep his eye on this new hire.

Gracie is thrilled, but looking at the clock there is no time to waste, it’s Wednesday and she was already running behind. Standing up, she firmly shakes the hand of her new boss, and heads for her car.

At 3:30pm on the nose Jim Montgomery heads for the parking lot. He works at Intel on a huge construction site in Portland and it’s quite a trek (a half a mile at least) just to walk to his parked car. It’s imperative he hits traffic perfectly. Five minutes too late and he could be stuck behind mountains of commuters trying to make their way out of the city. He’s gotta get home on time, his wife, Jennifer, has been cooking all day.

Jim and Jennifer Montgomery serving under the bridge

She’s been making meatballs, pasta, casseroles, vegetables, cobblers and cakes. She will have everything loaded up in their SUV and will be ready to go by 4:30pm. He looks at the time on his phone and pushes the throttle down on his little commuter car. This whole “bridge thing” he does has really changed his life – it pumps him full of some seriously positive vibes for the rest of the week. There is a purity in the work being done under the bridge, and he can’t help but want to be a part of it. He may not be able to participate in the cooking, but he will spend the rest of his night along with Jennifer’s son Kyle, helping to clean the kitchen and wash the huge pots and pans.

–Often it can be surprising, what life looks like behind the scenes of someone who volunteers under the bridge. Many think we sit around with tons of time to give to this cause. The truth is…most of us find ways to create little pockets of time to give to the bridge.

Jennifer Montgomery & Dan Sheets serving under the bridge

A master of this is Dan Sheets – who has taken charge (over a decade ago) of Mon-Tues-Weds nights under the bridge. He coordinates with churches, setting up tables, lights, providing drinks, going to the Marion & Polk Food Share for boxes of food that can be given away. He is the master at finding pockets of time to give to his priorities.

We all have crazy busy lives – full of the challenges that everyone else deals with on a regular basis. It’s as simple as making a decision. Saying to yourself…”I want to be a part of that”…and then taking action to make it happen.

I see a girl like Gracie…who has made this a major priority in her life. I see her setting her life up around the things that are important to her…and my heart overflows with love.

I watch Jolie come flying in from teaching a pilates class – whether she’s teaching at her studio in Salem, or is coming from a crazy location like Canby. She arrives with smiles and hugs – rolls her sleeves up and gets to work dishing out food. Every now and then, she will catch me at the end of the night – she hooks an arm in mine – her eyes glowing from the experience of handing out berry cobbler to a young family.

We walk to the car as the last of the tables get loaded up. She gets this twinkle in her eye and firmly places a folded bill in my hand to help with next week’s meal. (I cry every time she does this…I just can’t help it. My heart overflows with love.)

To everyone who donated to our cause last month – it is such a thrill to say that every dollar went to purchase dinner for tomorrow night. I’m excited about the menu!! I have potatoes simmering on the stove as I write this – and I am about to create some fantastic BBQ over the next 24 hours.

Thank you to all my volunteers last month – “Everyone Eats On Wednesdays!” – is really starting to make an impact. And as usual my gratitude is high and my heart is overflowing with love.

If you would like to donate to our efforts, I’ve tried to make it super easy! Click the link –>www.paypal.me/wipgirl

**The WipGirl kitchen will open at noon tomorrow for anyone who would like to come help.

If you would rather provide “items” instead of donating $$ – We are needing the following items for next week:

**Plastic utensils
**Cases of water
**We need protein for next week! Beef or Chicken

Remember, it’s not what you do next week that matters as much as what you do in the next hour.

Peace and love,

Jennifer Montgomery

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