How we met:
Cindy grew up in a trailer court eating McDonalds, now she runs a free summer lunch and activity program for kids. She loves to carry things, eat leafy greens, and wants people to find Jesus through her.
I stopped Cindy in the park on her way to clean up the Outpost activities. I have seen her in summers past and was grateful for her stopping to visit with me. She’s a powerhouse. Her vigor for living well and helping others along the way is contagious and inspiring. Anyone who talks to her can feel her positivity and passion for life. I love talking to people who are so focused and driven, people who have found their thing and love to share it. My favorite part of the Dynamo Interviews is finding out the passion behind people’s stories and I love that they are all so different.
The Dynamo Interviews are powerful. They empower people, both the teller and the reader. We don’t always realize how our story influences those around us and I love being a conduit for the telling. It’s made a difference in my life to talk to these dynamos and I know it’s made a difference in others’ lives. You are Dynamo. Cindy is Dynamo. Thank you for sharing your story.
Did you start the outpost, was it your idea?
Actually, I was in the beginning. The Washington County Commission on Children and Families is a government agency that’s goal is to meet lots of needs of youth and one of them is hunger.
They knew that the school district was making lunches and serving them out of the schools (in the summertime), but they realized that not very many children were going to go back into the building to get a lunch. They were looking for people who would go to the school, pick up the lunch, and go back out to a place the kids already were, and hand out a free lunch. So they went to churches. One was the church I attend, which is Sonrise Church. And we said, “We don’t buy the food, we don’t make the food, we just hand it out?!” That’s a no-brainer for us. That’s how it got started.
I’m also just a camp kind of person so I spent a lot of years at summer camp with kids and so I said, let’s do activities too. The first summer I volunteered from my church and we put it all together. We teamed with the city because they let us use the park in order to do it. At the end of that year they said they wanted us to keep doing it, keep teaming with Sonrise, so they hired me to do that. So I’ve worked for Parks and Rec for almost the past 10 years now and I’m kinda like the key person to help get Sonrise volunteers, but they pay a food manager now who is hired by them to come and make the food part of this happen. I’m hired to do the programming part.
What does healthy living mean to you?
I grew up in a family and we got the food baskets from the local community that were handing them out. We lived in a trailer court. So I understand what it is to eat cheaply, and to eat healthily, sometimes those don’t go together. So an education to show them that it can work! My mom always said McDonald’s is so much cheaper than buying a loaf of bread and the peanut butter is so expensive this year, whatever the stories you hear as a kid. As an adult I found out that you can! There are ways you can find actual healthy food at a cheaper price. Eating what grows is the biggest thing. So I just started doing, myself, eating what grew instead of what was processed.
How has your example motivated or inspired others?
Well I hope it has, hopefully my staff. Every day we’re working on this thing and we try to encourage that in people’s lives. We have one staff member that’s been around for about 7 years and she is still working on making more healthy choices in life. Just this year she’s kinda figuring it out, so it’s going to be quite a few years before she gets to full health. For me it’s the staff first. It’s just the people. If they get and understand that if they eat leafy greens it’s going to give their blood iron which is going to make them stronger, give them energy, all those things, then that’s what it’s all about. I get the feedback more from the staff. We also team up with OHSU Extension and that’s what they’re all about. They help educate on food, they call it Food Hero. We have four of their interns on our team this year.
What types of fitness do you enjoy doing?
I run, but I’m 52. And for some reason this knee is all swollen up. So I run anyways because I think I’ll run it out, so we’ll see what happens. I run.
And believe it or not, my arms. I carry things. I get people all the time, “do you want help to carry out?” at the grocery store. And I’m like, no. I carry my groceries. I try not to use a push cart unless I got to get dog food, cause you know. But I really do. And people say, can I get you a cart? And no, I’m working out. I carry things!
What’s a piece of advice you like to share?
If you want to get a healthier life going, as far as how you live, how you’re doing, what you’re eating, your actions and moves, I say take it small. Find a couple of things first, like I gave up pop. I just decided I didn’t need soda. I really craved it, but I decided I didn’t need it. I gave that up for a while and then all of a sudden I didn’t need it. Cool. Then I thought what else and I gave up the ice cream after dinner. And then you have to substitute it with something else or forget it, you’re going to want it back again. Substitute it with fruit! And it was just kinda small steps like that. Even with running. I could not run a mile. So I ran as far as I could and stopped, then the next day I decided I was going to run 10 more steps. So that’s what I did. I just kept doing that. It’s little steps, that’s what I think. Then all of a sudden you realize how much you’ve changed and you didn’t even know it because it was small at a time.
What’s a goal you have right now?
To read a book this summer!
What do you want to be remembered for?
I hope people see Jesus is me, that’s my life goal. That they see Jesus in me. That they find Him because they see Him in me.