BILLINGS - A woman who was once homeless herself recently moved to Billings and noticed a large homeless population in the state’s largest city. She decided to do something to help.
She's no Superhero or even a non-profit, but on many Sundays you'll find "Wander Woman" around downtown Billings handing out much-needed food and supplies.
"I have a whole stash of clothes ready for spring when we get there," said Wander Woman, also known as Shay Reiser.
But right now, in the dead of winter, Reiser is setting aside her personal budget and making sure people on the streets stay alive and fed.
"Cooking for people brings me a lot of joy," Reiser said. "Being able to give somebody a meal that is really delicious and not just your standard shelter meal is fun for me, to come up with new ideas for what we’re going to serve for the week."
Wander Woman is resourceful, cooking 50 to 70 meals every other Sunday on a budget of $150 per month with a no-waste, local catering company chipping in leftover food before it expires.
"People are always bringing me things and I turn it into a meal," she said. "I’m really, really great at cooking things on a budget. I raised three teenage boys who ate a lot. The first meal is in my budget and the second meal is typically sponsored by someone in the community who says hey, I want to help out and kicks in $50 or $100."
Donations offset costs as she buys food containers and upgrades her kitchen.
"Now I have a bigger pot and a bigger ladle and a bigger cooler and a second table and a bigger table to put things out on and those things add up," she said.
Every other week she hauls her trailer with her as she heads out into the community. The trailer has a much bigger purpose than moving her to Montana from Nebraska a year and a half ago.
"It was just sitting empty in my driveway, so we filled it with totes and we built a coat rack and I have coats and blankets, men's and women's clothing, and shoes, socks, hats, gloves, things like that," she said.
Delivery time is always 11 a.m. on the north side of the tracks.
My "biggest message is, just be kind to people because you don’t know what they are going through," she said.
Easy to say for Wander Woman as she serves up home-cooked meals with endless compassion.
"Everyone deserves to eat, always."
Visit her Facebook page here.
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