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SnowCap Community Charities donated firewood from trees removed from transit platforms

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: TROY WAYRYNEN - Gresham resdient Anna Wallace using her wood stove to heat her home with donated firewood from SnowCap Community Charities. An initiative of TriMet to upgrade seven Gresham MAX platforms also is helping some low-income residents make it through a cold and windy winter.

As part of the five-year TriMet program, which will make significant safety improvements to the stations, a total of 58 trees will be removed and the wood harvested will go to SnowCap Community Charities, a nonprofit organization that aids low-income residents in East Multnomah County.

One of those is Anna Wallace, a 70-year-old Gresham resident who four years ago had a fortuitous meeting with SnowCap’s executive director, Judy Alley.

Wallace was waitressing at Red Lobster — a job she still holds and has had since it opened 24 years ago — when she noticed one of her diners was doing some paperwork for the charity organization.

Wallace asked if SnowCap ever gave firewood to clients because a cord of wood — about a winter’s worth — can cost upwards of $200.

A few weeks went by and Alley was able to get some firewood to Wallace that year and every year since, something Wallace has called a “Godsend.”

Working only 25 to 35 hours a week, making ends meet can be tough. Last year, one of Wallace’s five children died. She took a month off of work and then in July was injured at work, so she has been doing physical therapy since then to try to get back into the restaurant.

“It’s been a savior for me,” Wallace said of SnowCap. “When winter comes, it gets so cold, and when you’re not working full time or don’t have a large income, sometimes the electric bill can get out of control.”

She said using the fireplace “probably saves at least a third, if not half” of her electricity bill.

TriMet’s five-year program to rehab the eastside MAX stations will upgrade 30-year-old platforms with safety and security enhancements and lay the groundwork for an electronic fare system to be rolled out in 2017.

TriMet also will be making safety improvements at several Blue Line pedestrian crossings in Gresham, which include realigning sidewalks and crossings, making crossings more perpendicular to the rail, installing advanced pedestrian warning signals, directing pedestrian to safe crossings with pipe barriers, upgrading ADA tactile stripzs and installing pavement markings.

On Monday, TriMet crews began removing trees from the Gresham platforms: Cleveland Avenue; Gresham Central Transit Center; Gresham City Hall; Ruby Junction/E 197 Avenue; E 172 Avenue and E 162 Avenue. The tree removal is to improve sight lines, increase security camera views and make way for more and better lighting. Cameras will also be upgraded, shelters will undergo changes, including windscreens, and other amenities for riders will be installed. The changes will create better visibility, increase safety and discourage inappropriate activities.

Alley said she is “grateful” for TriMet’s donation, and that SnowCap is most in need of blankets and other warm weather clothing, which Wallace said she tries to help out with when she can.

“I have given to SnowCap before, especially when the wintertime comes, because I’ve known people who were literally homeless, and I can’t imagine being that cold,” Wallace said. “I donate to Goodwill, but if you have no money you can’t walk in and buy a blanket, but if you can walk into SnowCap and get a coat and some gloves, that’s where I would want my things to go.

“I’m getting help, I have to give help,” she continued. “That’s the way it should be done.”

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