Wednesday Aug 10 2011
What Would Jesus Do? lends a hand
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
Breakfast is served weekly to homeless
The homeless and those in need in the Colfax area can look forward to receiving food and a bit of comfort every week from a Christian organization that goes by the name What Would Jesus Do? Jerry and Junia Babylon are Colfax residents who, with other volunteers, serve breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Mondays in the parking lot behind the bus depot on Canyon Way near Interstate 80. “We serve oatmeal, and coffee and pastries donated by Starbucks … hot soup, donated by Mimi’s Restaurant, hot chocolate, coffee tea and ramen they can add to hot water, which we provide,” Jerry Babylon said. “We give them enough food for that day, too.” Ramen, chili, pork and beans, canned fruit, pudding, tuna or Vienna sausages, energy snack bars, crackers, hot chocolate, oatmeal, water and juice all go into each bag handed out. Clothing is also provided, including socks and underwear, as well as outer clothing, shoes and boots donated by the Colfax Thrift Shop. Toiletries such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and sunscreen are also given out. Glen Low is one of six-to-eight regular What Would Jesus Do? volunteers. “We like doing this because it’s like one big family and a great atmosphere,” Low said. Fellowship is an important part of the weekly visits. “We have a number of people who come down from the senior village … to talk and visit,” who are also provided with food if they want it, Babylon said. Ed Molloy is one of the senior apartment residents who takes advantage of the opportunity to pick up food, meet people and say hello to old friends. Since What Would Jesus Do is a Christian outreach organization, there is also a prayer time. “Anybody who wants to join in can, but it’s not mandatory,” Babylon said. “We pray for people’s needs.” Babylon said volunteers try to meet whatever needs they can. Bus passes and rides are provided for those who have to get to Auburn and beyond for appointments and services. And since many of the homeless live outdoors, they need tents, tarps, groundcovers, sleeping bags, tent heaters, stoves, cooking utensils and propane. Many of the homeless camp at the Bear River and try to make a living mining for gold. LeRay Williams makes and sells jewelry. “I want to make an honest living, so I sell my jewelry instead of begging or panhandling,” Williams said at Monday’s breakfast. Babylon estimates there are 50 to 60 homeless individuals living in camps in the area, between Colfax and Meadow Vista. “We would like to be able to expand the ministry to more days during the week,” said Babylon, who estimates it costs about $500 a month to feed the roughly 40 people who are currently being served. Several churches donate money for items that must be purchased. Babylon, who can be reached at 346-9147, said he welcomes donations, which are tax deductible. Babylon also invites visitors to visit the breakfast gathering. “Come interact with the homeless and volunteers. See what we do … People need to know we’re here and (should) not be afraid of us,” he said. “Just getting to know these people, helping them to feel that they have value, are worthwhile, enhances their self images.” Sgt. Andrew Scott, commander of the Placer Sheriff’s station in Colfax, said his department normally comes into contact with the homeless only when the law is broken. “There can be a lot of substance abuse within the homeless community,” Scott said. Violations usually involve trespassing on private or public property (camping without paying), use of drugs, and violence, he said.