Seven years ago, Shelley Magwood had the idea for a local organization that would help those in need in Cache Creek and the surrounding area. “I knew we needed to get excess fruit and vegetables to people, and help them make marketable items,” she says. “And I knew there were so many who had excess who could help.”
Three years ago Magwood’s idea came to life, when the first meeting of the board of The Equality Project took place on October 22, 2014. In May 2016 the organization moved into its clubhouse on Stage Road in Cache Creek; and on October 28 more than two dozen members and visitors came together to celebrate with an open house and luncheon.
The Equality Project offers lunch to members on Mondays and Tuesdays, and volunteers also prepare healthy, tasty meals which are frozen in individual portions and provided to members. They also have clothing, shoes, toiletries, household items, furniture, and more available for free to members, and have recently opened a space where members can repair items such as bicycles and small appliances.
At the luncheon, several Equality Project members got up to speak about what the organization means to them. “Thank you to all the people who support and put this place together,” said one woman. “I can’t say enough good things about this place. It means the world to all of us.”
Another member said that “Volunteering here keeps me out of trouble. This place changed my life and gave me hope. Thank you to all the volunteers.” A third member spoke of how the organization helped her meet new people in the community when she moved to Cache Creek. “They’ve helped me with meals and furniture. I absolutely love this place.”
“You’ve been there for me,” said a fourth member. “You’ve always been a non-judgmental shoulder. We love you.”
Magwood—who is the executive director of The Equality Project—said that they have recently become a registered society, and hope to become a registered charity in the future. She acknowledged the people and businesses that have supported, and continue to support, the organization, and explained how—when they were looking to move into the former Jehovah’s Witness Hall on Stage Road—the Village of Cache Creek had no bylaw covering a soup kitchen. “So they granted us clubhouse status.”
She said that all who come there are equal. Membership in The Equality Project is $5 per month or $60 per year, and people are able to purchase a membership to be given to anyone in need who cannot afford one.
“There are way too many homeless people in our area, and people living in below-standard housing,” said Magwood. “Some people come here for food, some for support, some for spiritual needs.”
Joan Henderson, who is in charge of public relations, said that many of the members don’t have jobs, and at the clubhouse they have an opportunity to do something with their hands and learn new skills. “Plus there’s a sense of camaraderie, and people feel needed.” A craft table upstairs in the clubhouse allows members to make braided rugs, and if enough are made they may be sold at an upcoming craft fair to raise money for the clubhouse and the members involved.
Pastor Paul Ford of the Sage Hills Evangelical Free Church—many of whose members are volunteers at the clubhouse—said that “Three years doesn’t sound like a lot, but a large number of people have been able to be helped. There is a need in the community to help people, to reach out to them in various ways.
“An organization like this makes a huge difference. And I’m amazed by how God provides. What you see here at The Equality Project is a direct result of God’s provision. Thank you to each of you who have been a part of this.”