The public is invited to the free "Rides of March" dinner at 6 p.m. Sunday, which is also an opportunity for people in need to get free Everett Transit bus tickets. With its St. Patrick's Day theme, the party will be the second bus-ticket giveaway sponsored by the Emmaus Community, a Christian outreach group at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Everett.
For several years, the Emmaus Community has joined with Trinity Lutheran College in downtown Everett to meet and help the area's homeless people. In the summer, the group has held ice cream socials called a "Midsummer's Ice Cream." In the fall, it's "Socktoberfest," a party where new socks are given away.
With this weekend's "Rides of March," the effort to not only help but to build relationships continues. The parties, with food and live music, are ways for Trinity college students, people from the wider community and the homeless to share meals and conversation.
"It's just a drop in the bucket," Tim Knopf, an Emmaus group member, said of the bus tickets, socks and food given out at the events. "Why do we keep doing it? This is a way we build community. We build awareness of people in need in our own community."
Debbie Paget, an Everett Public Library employee, helped organize the first Socktoberfest event in 2011 after talking with homeless people about critical needs. Socks and bus tickets were often mentioned, she said.
Knopf said "Rides of March" organizers have secured 2,400 tickets from Everett Transit to be given away Sunday.
"We raised $2,000 for bus tickets," said Paget, who attends church at Our Savior's Lutheran. "We're just so thrilled to help people in this way again."
Meghan Pembroke, a city of Everett spokeswoman, said "Rides of March" organizers purchased 2,000 adult tickets with the $2,000 they raised. "And we made an in-kind donation of 400 adult tickets," Pembroke said.
Event organizers worked with Matt Coombs, an Everett Transit outreach coordinator. Coombs will attend Sunday's event to help people learn about riding the city agency's buses, Pembroke said.
The bus ticket giveaway is on "the honor system," Paget said. "People wouldn't be asking for them if they didn't need them."
Lori Barber, of Our Savior's Lutheran Church, is making Irish stew. Paget said others are baking Irish soda bread. "We can always use donated homemade cookies," Paget said.
Frank and Louise Fargo will also be at "Rides of March" with their mobile shower facility. The Clearview-area couple serve homeless people throughout the year by bringing their custom trailer to meal programs at churches.
Trinity Lutheran College students have also stepped up. Knopf said about 30 students are involved, and have visited charity meal programs around Everett to let people know about "the Rides of March."
Sean Bendickson, an Emmaus Community member, musician and organizer of the event, said "many people in Everett struggle to find transportation around town, to get to a doctor's appointment, grocery store, or to visit a family member."
The state Department of Social and Health Services used to provide bus tickets, but no longer does, Paget said. "There's really a significant need," she said.
More than a free bus ticket or meal, "Rides of March" is one more try at bringing people together.
"Part of the idea is to break down the wall that these are the unfortunates, these are the homeless — and we're different," said Knopf.
He believes people aren't so very different.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
'Rides of March'
"The Rides of March," a dinner and event to provide free Everett Transit bus tickets to people in need, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday in the Trinity Lutheran College Commons, 2802 Wetmore Ave., Everett. There will be live music and a free Irish stew dinner, with soda bread, locally brewed root beer and desserts. A mobile shower facility will be available. Donations welcome; write checks to "Our Savior's Lutheran Church" with "Rides of March" noted on check. Event is open to all.
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