Blues Fest 2021 to benefit Meals on Wheels, area musicians

Waterfront Blues Festival

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Waterfront Blues Festival is continuing its long tradition of giving back.

Every dollar donated on Thursday will help feed those in our community through Meals on Wheels People while also supporting local musicians through the Jeremy Wilson Foundation.

“Being a beneficiary of the Blues Festival this year was great because it helps us raise awareness for what we do in our mission of serving older people, making sure they have both the nutrition and that social connection,” said Suzanne Washington, the executive director of Meals on Wheels People.

“Oh man, we are thrilled to be involved in the Blues Festival this year,” said Jeremy Wilson, the executive director of the JWF Musician Health and Services Program. “I mean, they have such a long history of doing such good work and they’re so community-based — to be brought into the fold and be, become part of the Blues Festival community is really exciting and thrilling.”

The Jeremy Wilson Foundation provides emergency funding and support for local musicians and music industry workers.

“We are a safety net for musicians in Oregon and Clark County, Washington,” said Jeremy.

The organization provides comprehensive care through grants and national assistance.

“We’re making sure that you’re getting food; we’re making sure that your rent is paid. That’s one of the biggest things, period, is making sure that you’re not going to become homeless just because you broke an arm,” said Jeremy.

The support is critical for musicians who could be sidelined by even a minor medical issue.

“All musicians pretty much across the board, they work for themselves, they’re independent contractors,” said Jeremy. “So it can be very devastating to imagine even losing two weeks of work, let alone losing three months or six months of work.”

The Jeremy Wilson Foundation has helped more than 150 local musicians with medical needs over the last 10 years, especially during the pandemic.

Blues Fest Cares gifts will also help feed thousands of people in the Portland metro area through Meals on Wheels People.

“We raise money every year to make sure we can feed every single senior in our community who needs help and requests a meal,” said Suzanne. “We make fresh in our kitchen 8,000 meals a day.”

Each person gets seven to eight pre-plated dinners and supplemental foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, break and more every week.

“Many of the people we serve, we’re the only food source they have, we — the food we deliver — is all they really have,” said Suzanne.

Volunteers provide a critical social connection through meal deliveries, phone calls and wellness checks.

“Because as we age, we lose some of our family and friends and so we want to keep them connected,” Suzanne said. “We’re trying all sorts of ways to make sure that we can reduce their isolation, which then helps them thrive and be much healthier both mentally and physically.”

Donate online or text “WBF” to 76278

“No donation is too small. In fact, we have lots of folks who give $5 a month. It all makes a difference,” Suzanne said.

“Please support us,” said Jeremy. “We’re really trying to do some good things.”

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