I first met Diane Gudmundsen the week we launched the HillsboroStrong initiative to support local businesses. The movement was designed to help local businesses rise up and fight the loss of business and customers during the initial phases of the pandemic. Gudmundsen owns Anuloma Yoga and Anuloma Chiropractic. Located at 909 SE Cedar Street the beautiful buildings act as professional offices, clinic, and yoga studios; not to mention her home above. There is a Zen garden of flowers and vegetables and she is often working on the yard – healing plants when she is not healing people.
We dropped off a Hillsboro Strong sign (hopefully you have seen them around town) and had a nice chat in the yard. Our time together included discussing openly our fears of a collapsing economy and a deadly killer spreading among us. We also talked about the difficulty in sleeping and just dealing with everything. She saw what I was doing and was thankful. But I told her I needed to thank her because helping others was something that was saving and helping me.
Later when she asked me for a way she could help I was able to aim her in the direction of one of her neighbors who was doing great work but needed help. The Western Farm Workers Association is located at 725 SE 7th Avenue, Hillsboro, Oregon. They help farmworkers in the valley with everything from food to paperwork and more. This is a group I have supported in the past but have limited ability to help. I knew they needed food to distribute in the camps and all around Washington County. Diane jumped on the chance and took it from there.
What happened after that has been awesome to watch. This dynamic woman took it upon herself to take on the mission of raising as much food as she could and went to her clients for help. This has been the ultimate reward, to see this pay-it-forward chain of events unfold. None of it would have happened had Gudmundsen not used the angst and fear caused by COVID-19 to fight back- helping them to help herself.
It has been 6 months since the day she and I met and it is long overdue that I share this story. So I interviewed her tonight:
HH: Diane tell us how this program of helping WFWA got started for you?
DG: I began by donating clothing and food donations from some events in Anuloma Yoga Studio, prior to the pandemic. During the shutdown, we did not have to close at Anuloma Chiropractic, but business was very slow.I was actually inspired by what you were doing with Hillsboro Strong. I wondered, what can I do? What unique contribution could I make? Due to my location and fluency in Spanish, I already had a lot of connections to the Latino community. Many of my Chiropractic patients work in agriculture and food processing. I became aware that the Latino population was being disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Workers, especially early on did not have access to any protective gear, were falling ill, and when they needed to quarantine, had access to almost no resources. I called the Western Farm Workers Association and asked if they needed food. “We very much need food,” was the reply. So I began collecting food, Masks, toiletries, but mostly food at Anuloma Chiropractic. I publicized it on social media and donations began pouring in.
HH: Inspiring indeed! How has your program grown and what can people do to help?
DG: I keep a donation box in front of the Clinic at 909 SE Cedar st. It is available 7 days a week. I open the gate at about 10 am and close it at dusk. I take perishables only on Tuesday morning since Tuesday afternoon is delivery. I store the food in the yoga studio which remains closed. I will not reopen it until it is safe to do so. At least the closed studio can do some good by storing food donations. I’ve been doing this for 7 months. Every Tuesday afternoon I pack my car and sometimes my daughter’s car as well. We have not missed a week and have donated thousands of pounds of food. The effort is ongoing.
HH: Looking back now after all the trips and all the work, how do you feel this has helped and what has this experience been like?
DG: I have been told that I have helped to spread awareness of all the support this organization provides for the community and that because of the publicity of our food drive, many people have come forward to help as well. I am calling the movement LIFE for Love Is Feeding Everyone. Or VIDA Vida Indica Dar Alimentos.
HH: You have done so much. Thank you so much for helping these people in the greatest need. We encourage everyone to support you and get involved! Truly this is a blessing-
DG: Thank you so much. The food drive is ongoing.
They have helped so much. They pressured the local government to establish a quarantine fund, for agricultural and food processing workers who have to quarantine.
Diane Gudmundsen – Referencing Western Farm Workers Association of Hillsboro, Oregon
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