Department of Public Defense Employees Feed Homeless
More than 130 homeless people in Seattle were served up dinner by public defenders who volunteered for Operation Nightwatch (ONW) on Saturday, Feb. 20. The menu included Sloppy Joes, rice, salad and gourmet brownies.
This was hardly a first for public defense. In fact, members of the department have been serving dinners for homeless men and women every other month for more than five years.
ONW, located on 14th Ave. South in the International District, connects the less fortunate with meals and shelter. Open seven days a week/365 days a year, the organization places individuals in 10 local shelters. Individuals come to ONW by referrals from DESC, Bread of Life, word of mouth, officers and hospitals.
In 2010, Pam Pasion, a public defender who works for the Associated Counsel for the Accused (one of the former nonprofits that is now a division within DPD), heard about ONW through her clients, some of whom used services provided by the organization. It seemed like an opportunity to provide help beyond the courtroom, she said. “I wanted to find other ways to serve our clientele.”
So she attended an informational meeting and within two weeks got a call to see if she could field a team. Before long, she and her colleagues were on duty every other month – preparing a meal for around 150 people, serving it and cleaning up afterwards. And indeed, just as she suspected, the service provided another way to connect with clients.
Nearly every time she volunteers, she said, she sees someone she knows. “My funniest moment was when one of the lawyers said to me, ‘I got that guy out of jail this morning, and now I’m serving him dinner,’” she said.
Pam guesses teams of public defenders have served about 30 meals since she signed on in 2010. The meal in February pulled together a new group of DPD employees – nearly all of them were members of DPD’s civil commitment team. Among them were Dua Abudiab, Allyson Barker, Rebecca Bradlow, Mike De Felice, Brooks de Peyster, Ahmed Jenkins, and paralegal Mahkaea Jackson-Sams. Rounding out the group were prosecutors Leandra Ebreo and Jocelyn McCurtain.
Pam was there, as well, as she has been for the past five years. It was a wonderful evening, she said. “Everyone in the group was fantastic. And they made a great meal.”
Pam welcomes volunteers from all corners of the county. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to participate.