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Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

With a pot of soup and fresh socks for the homeless, ex-Boeing executive celebrates her 64th birthday

Deb Maier shares a moment with a man in a wheelchair with the street name Ozone, who came by while Maier and her husband Brad were out serving soup, sandwiches and coffee near Browne St. and Sprague Ave. Friday, Jan. 4, 2018. Maier and her husband set up a small table with a large pot of homemade soup and offered people food, pairs of socks and whatever else they could. Ozone said he liked Maiers hat and she traded hats with him. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Deb Maier shares a moment with a man in a wheelchair with the street name Ozone, who came by while Maier and her husband Brad were out serving soup, sandwiches and coffee near Browne St. and Sprague Ave. Friday, Jan. 4, 2018. Maier and her husband set up a small table with a large pot of homemade soup and offered people food, pairs of socks and whatever else they could. Ozone said he liked Maiers hat and she traded hats with him. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Deb Maier remembers driving under the Browne Street railroad underpass a few months ago. Tents sheltering the homeless lined the walkways along the streets, crowding the path.

Maier had driven through the spot many times before, but this time, she thought, “ ‘I can’t look these people in the eye,’” she said. “And I realized it’s because I don’t do anything for them.”

On Friday, near the same underpass, she ladled bean, ham and vegetable soup into cups and handed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to about 100 homeless people.

It was her 64th birthday.

Maier and her husband, Brad, bring food and new socks to the underpass about once a week. Each time they do, they meet with scores of the city’s homeless.

“They’re here and they’re hungry and nothing else matters to me,” she said.

Maier, a retired Boeing engineering manager from Seattle, said she’s not planning on turning her effort into anything bigger than a table, a pot of soup and a box of sandwiches.

“Our intent is to keep it simple,” she said. “We’re trying to fill in the cracks.”

Maier said she’s never had aggressive behavior directed at her while handing out food and socks.

“These people are the best,” she said.

“We’re very grateful,” said Wyatt Burke, who took a cup of soup and a sandwich. “She’s doing a good job.”

A man named Blue said the Maiers’ food broke his two-day, unintended fast.

“I was pretty much starving,” he said. “I had no food for a couple days … the food is delicious.”

Maier said she’s going to be feeding the homeless as long as she can.

“There’s nothing that makes me happier,” she said.

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