|Photo from Tucson Weekly by Will Ferguson|
Elliott, who used to run an independent bookstore and escaped from East Germany at age 8, began feeding homeless people after an episode with a former customer who had become homeless. She recently surpassed 1,000 meals - all made from things she buys from her limited income or donated by friends.
"I started cooking for him every Friday, or we'd go to a drumming circle together. I made Christmas for his sister and her family," Elliott says.I was very moved by her dedication to helping others and particularly because she did this at great personal sacrifice. I was particularly taken with the stories of people she helped including an elderly couple living in the park trying to survive day to day even as the wife succumbs to Alzheimer's. So, I contacted Karin to ask if I could help in some way.
Last December, the Native American man she befriended showed up at her house—with police, who had picked him up off the streets. "When he came to the door ... I didn't recognize him, because he was so bloated with alcohol," Elliott says.
After she helped him contact his sister, they left. Elliott says she started to drive around looking for him, with food packed in her car. She knew homeless people often hung out at Santa Rita Park.
"I thought to myself, 'I'll look for him, give him food, and just cook a little more on the weekend.' But I never did find him," Elliott says. "I decided to start helping the people I saw in the park."
As it turns out she said she has long been hoping to include some desserts, cookies, or sweets with the meals but her very limited funds just wouldn't allow it. The few times she has managed to secure some store bought cookies or treats the people she feeds were thrilled.
Beginning next weekend I'll be making some sort of treat for her to deliver with her meals to the parks. It really is the least I can do. After all, as a transplant recipient if it were not for the kindness of complete strangers I wouldn't be here today to write about my cooking adventures.
If you'd like information on Karin Elliott's work with the homeless, please visit her blog: Feeding the Homeless where you can get information on how you can help or make a donation to her efforts. Be sure also to read Mari's beautiful feature on Karin and the people she helps at the Tucson Weekly: Meals in the Park.