OLYMPIA, Wash. -- We are all local in Olympia this week and we want to highlight someone who’s made a difference in the lives of hundreds of people within the homeless community. She’s known affectionately as 'Mama Dee' and once a week for seven years, you can find her at the same intersection, filling plates and hearts.
There are some people who just feel like family.
“The word gets out, if you’re new in town, they usually tell ya 'Come eat at Mama Dee's,' this is it,” says Dee Hampton.
On any given Saturday morning, Dee and her friends are cooking up a family style meal for the homeless in Olympia.
“We’re in our seventh year now. It was funny because we started out with one tent, one stove and we used to beg people to come eat at our breakfast," Hampton said. "And then it just caught on and one day in the summer time, I looked up and there was a line wrapped around and I’m like OK! I guess they know we’re here."
The ingredients are simple, the message is sweet. And the reason why, well, that’s a little harder to swallow.
“When she died I didn’t know any of this. I thought I knew my child and sometimes a parent don’t know your child,” says Dee.
Her daughter, Sara, died in a car accident back in 2005.
“Sara not only was homeless on the street, but this was her town, she loved it here. They used to call the original people, before all this came, it was the ‘Olympia Street Kids’ and she was part of that community,” says Dee.
Sara went by “Jypsy” on the streets. And while Dee didn’t always understand her choices, she learned her daughter left behind a legacy of empathy within the homeless community.
“They started telling me stories about her, how she helped them all and what did she for each and every person. And I’m like wow it just blew me away,” says Dee.
Many believe Sara is still here, helping.
“She talks through the food, she talks through Mama Dee, she talks through everybody here. She still talks to us. She might not be here in person, but she’s here in heart and spirit,” says one of Sara’s friends.
“I imagine her down here all the time,” says Dee.
“It’s like a living memorial that happens weekly,” says a friend of Sara.
If each of us has the ability to project an image, maybe Mama Dee is a reflection of what’s possible when we open our hearts.
“People know me. I hug on people. I love on people. And that just fills my heart with joy and love, you know. And I love each person here,” says Dee.
Dee says before she started this community breakfast for the homeless, she went to cooking school so she would feel confident to feed so many people. She says they serve hundreds. The food is donated by several different churches, community groups and people. To learn more click here.