Nick Furrow. Photo by Paul Neevel.

Nick Furrow

When Eugene’s annual Whiteaker Community Thanksgiving Dinner was called off due to COVID last year, a group of neighbors in the Whit got together to provide a traditional Thanksgiving meal to homeless campers living under the freeway bridge at Washington Jefferson Park. “A core group of us formed The Way Home,” says Nick Furrow, coordinator of the grassroots homeless advocacy group, standing in front of The Way Home’s Free Store at 170 Monroe Street. “Our objectives are to continue outreach, getting people what they most need, and to influence policy. We push to have sanitized campsites with trash pickup and porta potties.” On Sunday, Nov. 21, The Way Home held a tent drive, accepting donations of serviceable tents to be given away to people in need of housing. “You can give sandwiches to the poor, and clothing,” says Furrow, “but the biggest impact you could make would be a tent itself.” Furrow experienced a lesser degree of poverty as a child growing up in semi-rural Pennsylvania west of Philadelphia. “I shared a bedroom with two brothers and two sisters,” he recalls, “and having money for grocery shopping was a problem. It was stressful for a little kid, but it influenced my empathy for the poor and their suffering.” His parents were pursuing their education at the time, and became professors at Drexel and Swarthmore. “I got a scholarship from the state of Pennsylvania and studied urban planning and art at Stanford,” he reports. “The next years were a whirlwind of adventure: Italy, New York City, Finland, Seattle, Portland and now Eugene. I’ve been here four years.” Furrow began cooking as a young child, and most of his work experience has involved food. “I helped a friend launch the Bounty food truck at beergarden on 6th Avenue,” he notes, “and I was executive chef at a large sorority.” This year, Furrow and The Way Home volunteers will cook 500 Thanksgiving meals and bring them to encampments at Washington Jefferson Park, 13th and Chambers, Owen Loop and to downtown Eugene.