STORIES FROM THE STREET
PROFILES FROM THE SHAR-ON COLLABORATIVE
We have all seen the homeless, but few of us have really taken the time to talk to them
to gain a deeper understanding of their lives. The following stories give a peek into the lives of
a few of the people who are part of the Shar-On collaborative.
One thing that we at Shar-On see all the time and is represented by all these incredible people
is that at one point there comes over you a desire to help out and to give.
Everyday Shar-On serves a homecooked, delicious meal. The delicious part is Pink’s contribution. She is the head chef at Shar-On and “The Queen of Glean.” Pink transforms what we receive from our gleaning and contributions into hearty, tasty meals.
A native of Taft, Pink is the name she goes by. She has lived a few other places in the past but Taft is home. She knows everyone and everyone seems to know Pink. She says she often sees friends around town that she has known for over 35 years. For Pink, Taft is convenient where everything she needs is within walking distance.
She is a wife, a mother of four, and a grandmother.
She is also homeless. She currently stays with friends “couch surfing.” It’s not a lifestyle she recommends. There is no place that she can call her own and there is never any privacy. Pink admits that she spent some time in prison for narcotics. But she left that part of her life a long time ago. She has been clean from drugs for over 15 years.
Her willingness to give began with her grandfather, who told her never to let anyone go hungry—so she committed to cooking the most delicious meals possible for the people who show up at Shar-On each night. Pink also happily helps out in many other ways. She moves boxes of food, stacks crates, and handles whatever needs to be handled better than anyone you’ve ever seen. When Pink is around things get done.
Pink says that the reward at the end of the night is knowing no one is hungry. She likes being part of an organization that helps anyone who needs it. She says, “Come and share the love. You won't be judged."
We certainly taste the love you put into every dish you make.
Ron and his wife of nearly 40 years are long-time residents of Taft. Ron is the father of four lovely daughters who currently live out of state. Unlike many of the people we serve at Shar-On, Ron and his wife live in a home.
Ron was always a hard worker. He worked in the local oilfields and in security, and often held down two jobs at once. A couple of unfortunate injuries took Ron out or the workplace. Although he tried to make a comeback, his body just did not cooperate. That final exit from the workforce put Ron in a position he never dreamed possible — for the first time in his life, he didn’t have enough food to eat.
Ron started coming to Shar-On for warm meals every night. After a while, he decided he wanted to start giving back. These days, you can find Ron helping out at Shar-On virtually every day. He is constantly doing things to help the organization and the neighbors he is serving. He says giving back provides him with a sense of accomplishment. “At the end of the day, I know that I’ve done something good.”
He says that Shar-On is a good place to go if you need help, and adds, “It’s a good place to help out. The people here are friendly.” He likes that the people who help out and are being served here also have a say in the guidelines. He likes that the Shar-On leadership is open to ideas and suggestions from the people receiving services, and are always open to improving. Ron says he has made his best friends at Shar-On, as well as constantly running into old friends he hasn’t seen in 20 years. He says, “It’s a nice place. I really love it here."
Well, we love you too, Ron.
Rob is a long-time resident of Taft. We mean long time. He was born and raised here, so we're talking more than 50 years. He’s a father of two boys that live in Taft. Rob says he is ready to turn his life around; he wants to spend time with his grandchildren.
For the last few years, Rob has been homeless after working for the majority of his life. One thing led to another and Rob found himself unemployed and homeless. He said it was, and still is, hard to be homeless. He remembers feeling unsettled when he was first on the streets. He had to learn to be self-sufficient so he could survive. Rob wouldn’t wish homelessness on anyone.
Once on the streets, Rob looked for ways to be useful. He started sweeping the sidewalk in front of St. Andrews Church. Soon thereafter, Shar-On started serving meals from St. Andrews. That's when Rob met Shari, and began helping out at Shar-On.
Since then, Ron has seen a lot of people get help from Shar-On. “It’s a good place to start” says Rob. He talks about the freedom to be one’s self at Shar-On. He says, “It’s a judgment-free environment where so many people give and help out that it makes me want to help out even more.” Rob assures us, “When you are receiving so much love, it makes you want to give love.”