Katy McGuire

Katy McGuirePhoto by Paul Neevel

“My dad worked in a casino, and my mom was a librarian,” says Katy McGuire, who grew up in Las Vegas. “Mom was studious and dad liked to party.” Struggling with authority as an adolescent, she ran away and met interesting characters — young people living on the street. “Getting to know them taught me empathy,” she says. “I began volunteering at a thrift store geared towards the unhoused. I had to repeat 9th grade to graduate. I was more concerned about social justice for people down on their luck.” She skipped graduation and headed off to the University of Nevada, Reno, where she earned degrees in art and special ed in five years of study plus work as a waitress. Afterward, she explored the U.S. for a year in a work/trade program that offers housing and meals in exchange for part-time work in locations around the country. “That’s how I discovered Eugene,” she says. “Eugene was so welcoming. I met people who cared about and created change.” After a year of substitute teaching, McGuire is now a full-time first-grade teacher. “I found Burrito Brigade as a volunteer opp in the Eugene Weekly,” she reports. “I love the sense of direct action: feeding people who are hungry.” She also joined a resource-sharing group sponsored by the Neighborhood Anarchist Collective. “We had our first Share Fair in February of 2018,” she says. “We put out a call for donations of clothing, camping gear and hygiene products.” The Solidarity Share Fair now draws 200-plus attendees and 50 volunteers on the last Tuesday of every month, 3 to 6:30 pm, at the First United Methodist Church, 14th and Olive. It provides free food, music and services, including bike repair, haircuts, medical care and empathetic connection. This month’s event, on Feb. 25, will feature a celebration of the fair’s second anniversary.