Richard loves cooking community meals. It was true growing up in Alaska and just as true after he moved to Ballard in the construction boom of the late 80’s. His business was good, word of mouth was strong, and occasionally on his way to a job he would stop and lend a hand at Ballard Food Bank. He’d help unload a truck or two because, living in the neighborhood, he was friendly with the folks there and knew they were doing good for this community he newly called home. “They were all just the best people” says Richard.
About 8 years ago a long-time customer noticed him wheezing and urged him to get checked out. A severe health diagnosis later combined with a lagging construction economy, and Richard found himself homeless. “I never thought it would come to the point where I would need to visit the Food Bank myself” remembers Richard. “But all of a sudden when I needed it I was so glad these folks were here.”
Through Ballard Food Bank, Richard had access to healthy, nutritious food and despite all of life’s challenges it gave him hope. “You’ve got to see the quality of food to believe it. It’s just remarkable.” And even when he was living in a van he still made it a point to cook community meals for those who, like him, craved community. “Just because you don’t have a kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t cook. I cooked meals on 2 hot plates, would set up down at the park and everyone would come and bring something. And it brings joy to people to share a meal and to be together.”
Over the past few years, Richard has journeyed from living in his van to now living in an apartment. He has a dedicated kitchen, those community meals he still cooks are getting more elaborate again. “I love cooking with turmeric when it’s in stock – it gives an incredible flavor!” His hopeful and hearty laugh is just a piece of what makes Ballard Food Bank a special place in this community for those who need help. “It doesn’t take much” reminds Richard, “if everyone helps out a little bit it’s amazing what you can do for people.”