With a side of respect

Sometimes people find their life’s work in mysterious ways, and for Josie McCarthy, it was through two prostitutes in Chicago who led her to dedicate herself to feeding the homeless and otherwise downtrodden with dignity and respect, as if they were dining in a fine restaurant.

Many years ago now, McCarthy spent her days with the women for two weeks while she was working on a social-service project in her hometown, Chicago.

At one point, the subject of dinner at a Thai restaurant came up, and one of the women wistfully said she hadn’t had Thai food for 12 years.

“I asked her why,” said McCarthy, who just logged her 10th year as manager of The Dining Room, FOOD for Lane County’s “restaurant” for people in need of a good meal. “She said, ‘Look at me — who would serve me dinner?’ ”


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By Randi Bjornstad