By Cole Merkel, Staff Writer
Every Thursday, Street Roots vendor William Adams helps make bologna and cheese sandwiches for Operation Nightwatch, a hospitality center he has been a community member of for more than three years. He began making the sandwiches five months ago. “I walked into it,” William says. One afternoon there was a need for someone to help make sandwiches; William was in the church and he stepped up to the plate, so to speak, to help.
William has since become a regular volunteer with Clay Street Table, the meals program housed in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church — the same church that houses Operation Nightwatch. On top of making sandwiches every Thursday, William helps clean up after Saturday morning breakfast, and one Thursday every month he helps coordinate the delivery and distribution of food from Oregon Food Bank.
“I come in here really early those mornings, take all the food from the storage room and into the little chapel, then redistribute it on the tables in the fellowship halls,” Bill says.
On those Thursdays, William is typically at the church from 9:30 in the morning, working all day, and stays until Operation Nightwatch closes around 11 p.m.
“The pantry is chaos,” says Bill, whose usually serious face turns into a smile. It is apparent that he relishes that chaos, and, perhaps more importantly, loves that fact that he has become such an integral part of a program he has called his community for several years.
“I like to keep myself busy,” he says quietly, continuing to liberally apply mayonnaise on slices of bread. “Volunteering also keeps me active in the church, and it keeps me inside for part of the day, away from the riffraff on the streets.” Bill has been a parishioner of St. Stephen’s for more than a year. “I feel at home here,” he says.
Most days, except Wednesday, William can be found selling Street Roots at Safeway on Southwest 10th Avenue and Jefferson Street.
“The people out where I’m selling are really nice. It’s also really close to the church.” Hence, a lot of his regular customers are St. Stephen’s parishioners. He’s also become a regular customer at the Energy Bar coffee shop at Southwest Park Avenue and Clay Street. When he needs to take a break from selling, part of William’s routine is to drop off a Street Roots for the owner and drink a cup of coffee at the shop. “I like being out and about. It keeps me in contact with the community around me.”
“I want my customers to know I work hard and a lot,” says William.
His next major project at St. Stephen’s is to lead a cooking class on how to roast a duck — his grandmother’s old recipe. It will be the first time he’s led a cooking class; he’s not really worried about the teaching part. He doesn’t know how people are going to react to the taste, since duck isn’t a popular meat. He just hopes people like it.