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Local resident found that providing a Christmas meal for visitors of Craig's Compassionate Café blessed her as much as those who participated

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Pevonka and her daughter, Selene, pause for a photo in front of the kitchen at Craig's Compassionate Café. Pevonka took it upon herself to cook the Christmas meal for participants on Christmas Day.The passion to reach out to local residents who "do not have anyone or anywhere" was demonstrated by a local Prineville resident on Christmas Day.

When visitors of Craig's Compassionate Café asked if there would be a Christmas Day dinner, a local resident of Redemption House, Pevonka (last name withheld), took it upon herself to ensure there would be a meal for them.

"I was serving lunch at the café on Christmas Eve, and a couple of people asked if we were going to have dinner on Christmas," said Pevonka. "I decided that I should make a dinner and let them know. We did not have a ton of people show up for it, because nobody really knew about it except those ones. I decided I would make a nice dinner for the people who didn't have anywhere to go, so I kind of pretended like I was cooking for my family, and I cooked a ham and a turkey and all the stuff to go with it."

She indicated that she also had residents of the women's' shelter enjoy the meal, with approximately twenty people sit down for dinner. They had all the traditional sides, minus the desserts.

"People seem to like my cooking, so that is gratifying. I was able to send some leftovers home with the people who are regulars at the café, so that felt good."

Wonka said that cooking the meal was a very therapeutic, as she has recently lost a family member.

"This was our first Christmas without Selene's father (Selene is her daughter), so being able to cook his favorites and feed them to people who didn't otherwise get a meal was really important, and special for us. It helped make our Christmas better — it would have otherwise been a lot tougher emotionally. I was really thankful that people showed up and ate and enjoyed it."

She indicated that the shelter has given her a place to give back.

"I have always had a big place in my heart for the forgotten people, and people who don't really have anyone or anywhere. Those are the most special to me," Pevonka shared. "So, I am really thankful to have this facility to use and be a part of, to remember those people and to honor them and to feed those people and remind them that they are important.

She concluded that she is happy to be able to be there to share what the shelter gives of what it is intended for.

"A big thank you to our community — our businesses and private citizens who have donated. Our community is so generous, giving and gracious. They have given so much to this place and allowed us to care for these people and give them what they wouldn't otherwise have," Pevonka concluded.

The Redemption House women's shelter believes in keeping families together whenever possible and supporting women with children to stay in their safe, home-like environment. It is their goal to provide women and their children with safety, security and hope during their stay. Once basic needs of shelter and food are provided, staff is available to assist them in accessing community resources and help on their journey to stable housing.

Lorita Launders, House Manager for the shelter, added, "We take them in here, and we help them get further in life to help them find a job, or help them get housing — or help them if they need drug and alcohol classes or if they need Best Care. We provide them structured living downstairs to help them learn responsibilities and really give them a lot of guidance and show them Jesus."

She added that they have morning meetings and devotion/prayer, which helps start the day and give them structure.

"I am very proud of Pevonka for taking this upon herself to do this," commented Director for the Redemption House, Cindy Burback of Pevonka's selfless act. "She asked me if she could make the dinner and then invite a few people that she knew came into the café on a regular basis."

Burback added, "I am just really proud of her, and I want to thank the community and the response that we got after the last story (in the November 16 issue of Central Oregonian). We got a lot of really good donations and a lot of good will that came our way, and I just really, really, appreciate that."

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