April 24, 2020, 5:50 PM EDT
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a national emergency in the U.S., many governors are maintaining stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the virus in their state.
But what do stay-at-home orders mean for the homeless and individuals who are in desperate need of food, but unable to flock to grocery stores and return home safely?
Cliff Strand Jr., a driver and coordinator for White Pony Express, now spends his days delivering food to homeless shelters and food pantries. But six years ago he was homeless and near death, having struggled for years with drug addiction. He was living under a bridge outside of Oakland, California, when a dedicated member of White Pony Express started showing up with boxes of fresh food for him.
“I was 420 pounds, my skin was green and yellow, I was sick and ready to die.” Strand shares, “Peter Brooks one of the pioneers of [White Pony Express] had no business being under that bridge outside of Oakland, but what he did was deliver me food with love and dignity and hope.”
Two years after that first encounter, Strand was serendipitously reconnected with White Pony Express after entering a life-saving recovery program. He started delivering food to homeless shelters and drug rehabilitation centers, some that he once lived in himself. “When I deliver to these places, my heart bleeds for them because that was me.” he says, “Being able to come back and show people the grace of god that was shown to me at the beginning of this whole thing makes my heart beat.”
That’s why it’s more important than ever to Strand that organizations like White Pony Express are delivering fresh food and hope to communities in need during the coronavirus, just like they did for him. “People who are on the streets and people who are in shelters, they’re already living in fear,” he says, “when you add something as crazy as what’s going on in the world right now, they’re afraid for their lives.”