Woodland woman starts Ladle of Love to feed those in need

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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The first time Patricia Peacher tried to feed the homeless, she gave it a half-hearted attempt and failed.

“I mentioned it to a few people at church and thought about serving food at an RV park near church, and I didn’t follow through,” said Peacher, of Woodland. “I got busy with other things and thought it wasn’t important.”

Three years later, Peacher came back to the idea after feeling unsatisfied with some other work she was doing. On Sunday, Peacher hosted her first Ladle of Love event, where she and other volunteers from Clover Valley Community Church fed more than 20 people.

“It was put on my heart by the holy spirit to feed people,” she said.

Peacher reached out to Woodland Public Schools and Woodland Action to get people to attend her first event. Woodland Public Schools has 112 students who are living in some form of unstable housing and are qualified as homeless, according to Eric Jacobson, the district’s spokesman.

“Unstable housing includes living in a recreational vehicle, an automobile, doubled up or couch surfing,” Jacobson wrote in an email.

Woodland Action is a food bank that serves people in Woodland and other nearby areas.

Peacher said she returned to the idea after going on a trip to build a church in India. Even after the trip, Peacher still felt like she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to. She felt like she was meant to feed people.

Peacher was more determined to make the event happen her second time around, and even her roadblocks ended up turning things in her favor. Peacher originally wanted to hold her events to feed the homeless in the building at Horseshoe Lake Park. Woodland city officials had some reservations about the location.

In a letter to other city officials, Tracy Coleman, public works director, wrote that there were previously “transients living in the kitchen” at the park, and the city had to pay to better secure the kitchen and repair the fireplace.

“This lead to transient housing in our restrooms at Horseshoe Lake Park, where we had to start locking up the restrooms,” she wrote. “Which led to them ‘jimmying the locks’ prior to lock up so they can sneak in, which we had to pay to repair and add a lock system.”

City officials suggested Peacher move her event to the Woodland Community Center, and instead of doing it on the second Sunday of each month, like Peacher hoped, she could use it the last Sunday of the month. The city also waived the rental fee for the community center.

“It was supposed to be moved,” Peacher said.

“Red tape makes (doing things) more complicated. In my case, it ended up working out.”

The new location has a full kitchen, a bathroom, tables and is heated.

“It’s a warmer, cleaner environment versus the cold, drafty building where you have to have camp stoves to heat everything,” she said.

Peacher also heard from people happy she moved the event later in the month because people using food stamps are more likely to run out of them at the end of the month than the middle.

At the events, Peacher and other volunteers will prepare soup for the guests. They’ll also have loaves of bread. Peacher is still looking for volunteers for future events. Anyone interested in donating food or money to Ladle of Love can do so through Clover Valley Community Church by earmarking the donation for “Ladle of Love” at www.clovervalleychurch.com. Volunteers can also sign up through the church. Toiletries, tents and other items for those in need can be made through Woodland Action, www.woodlandaction.org.

Peacher said she takes messages from the holy spirit very seriously, and she feels like she has been repeatedly told that she is to feed the hungry.

“We are called to love, first and foremost,” she said. “If we look at what Scripture says, the most important thing it says it to love one another. If you’re hurting and you’re hungry and you’re cold, you don’t think anyone cares. We need to show that love. We need to show that light. That’s why I decided to call it Ladle of Love.”