OLYMPIA — The city of Olympia said “no more” to one group who has been feeding the homeless in the same parking lot for the past two years. The city received complaints of traffic and trash problems. Despite the city’s orders, the group is not budging.
They gather at the parking lot every week and the homeless get a warm meal — but they say the gathering means a lot more than that.
“Some people may think we are out of the box and we are crazy,” said Ben Charles.
Charles heard that enough he decided to name his cause the Crazy Faith Outreach and for the past two years he’s dug into his own pockets to help people in need.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Charles.
After complaints about health and safety concerns the city told Charles to stop the feedings, but he is still serving up salmon for Thursday night’s dinner.
“I think it’s perfectly fine to feed the homeless, but I don’t think the middle of the downtown business core is the place to do it,” said Bayside Quilting owner Pam Tuttle.
Tuttle says on Friday mornings her business is left with a mess to clean up in the parking lot.
“The aftermath has been the most of our issues,” said Tuttle.
Others say the homeless are running into streets, blocking traffic and panhandling.
“It’s just not true,” said Charles.
Other businesses are siding with Charles, saying the city is missing the root of the problem.
“He is helping people who are already here; they would be here whether he was helping them or not,” said Café Love owner Vanessa Borcherding.
People directly impacted by the generosity says the event is so much more than free a meal, it’s food for the soul.
“It gives people love,” said Timothy Clanton.
“They make sure I get to the bus stop and even after the bus stop they made sure I go to where I am supposed to,” said Michael Johnson.
“We come here because we want to feel like we have something to strive for and live for,” said Ashley Cooper.
So they carry on making no apologies for why they are there.
“We have every right as the next person to be right here,” said Charles
Charles says he will continue to feed the homeless until the city can exactly tell him what law he is breaking. They were told police were going to show up but there was no police presence Thursday night.