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S.T.E.V.E. Feeds Salem Needy Sixth Year in a RowBonnie King Salem-News.com
S.T.E.V.E. is More than a Man, it’s a Movement.
(SALEM, Ore.) - As the weather gets wetter, stormier, and colder, the need for warmth and sustenance is priority for all of us. For Salem’s homeless population, it becomes a fine line between life and death.
Today is a day many have been anxiously waiting for. Today, they can count on a delicious, hot meal, a warm gathering of people, and some cold weather gear to leave with.
All of this is happening completely due to the generosity of Salem’s community members, led by the passion and foresight of John and Marci Olivera.
John Olivera owns Steele’s Karate in Salem, and for the sixth year in a row, they will open the dojo at 860 High St NE to those most in need, serving a warm meal and offering cold-weather essentials. Doors open at 4 p.m.
The annual event began as “Helping the Homeless” in 2010, a successful outreach attempt which proved “it could be done”.
The first year, volunteers went to West Salem and helped 75 people. After that, they moved to the dojo and invited the community inside for the event. Now, hundreds stand in line to be a part of this community gathering every year.
In 2013 the name was changed to S.T.E.V.E. (Share Time Encourage and Value Each other), in memory of three men named Steve who died within seven months of each other.
John knew them all: Steve Spier, who died in July 2013, was his classmate at Detroit High School, Steve Hansen, who died in December 2012, was a former co-worker, and Steve Bennett, who lived next to the karate school, died a month later.
They all lived, and died, in isolation.
John said, "I wanted to attach some significance to these guys, their lives were important, and so is everyone else."
“We will feed those who need a hot meal,” said Marci Olivera, who coordinated the food donations and menu for the event, no small undertaking. Preparation for this annual holiday gathering takes months.
After enjoying the meal, volunteers will make sure people leave with what they need to stay warm, and as dry as possible, including toiletries.
They have collected thousands of dollars’ worth of items to help Salem stay warm including new and gently used coats, thermals, gloves, boots, hats, socks, underwear, hoodys, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, hygiene items and flashlights.
“S.T.E.V.E. 6 is for any one you know who is in need,” John said.
“We can each make a difference, starting right here in Salem. All of us have volunteered because we want to help, and for six years we’ve given people companionship and good food, and they leave warmer and more prepared for the elements.
“We also hope they feel the sincerity from everyone that works on this event. We care.”
It is the heart in this movement that makes the biggest difference. The energy and positivity shared with each and every participant is empowering, and inspiring.
This is what one couple (and scores of volunteers) did when they put their minds to it. To join the 2016 efforts, contact Steele's Karate.
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