One man has made it a mission to give warmth weekly
EVERETT — About 45 to 65 cups of coffee and a number of instant ramen meals were missed at Wall and Rockefeller last Wednesday because Ross Tucker, Everett’s “Coffee Man,” wasn’t there to pass them out. He was hospitalized for three days due to a bad wound infection, but today, he expects to be back at his post downtown to bring food and drink to the homeless people who live in the area.
It’s a personal post he has manned most Wednesday nights for the last four years, in addition to other spots in Snohomish County on other days.
It all started because Tucker saw a man with a beard, obviously homeless and suffering, on the street one bitterly cold October night. Tucker had recently been talking with a friend about how he wished there was some way to warm people up.
“I went to the store, got a cup of coffee and gave it to him,” said Tucker. “That was the first one.”
A lightbulb went on and he grabbed an old coffee pot, purchased a single burner stove, and started making coffee for the people on the street. Tucker’s own resources, plus support and donations from family and friends, especially his late brother Rusty, who died of cancer in 2015, has since grown the operation to a three-burner stove and two large coffee pots for coffee, powdered creamer, sugar, tea, hot chocolate and instant noodles, plus several gallon jugs of water. He makes coffee year-round for homeless people except for two months off in the summer.
Yet the real kicker to this good Samaritan story is who “Coffee Man” really is, what he’s gone through and what he deals with on a daily basis.
He describes himself as “a kid that was always in trouble.”
“From fifth grade on, I pretty much quit school. I did stupid things that got me in jail,” he said. He spent a total of 12 years in prison, though not all at once.
Tucker has bipolar disorder and ADHD, but being born in 1965, he faced an educational system that had no name for kids like him except “stupid,” “bad,” and “dumb.”
Forty years of frustration and anger had to pass before Tucker was finally diagnosed to be properly treated and counseled. He found a caring doctor who not only determined to find the right medications for him, she helped him set up an officially licensed business when she saw his commitment to his coffee mission.
“The police used to give me trouble,” Tucker explained. “They’d tell me I was just enabling people and not really helping them, but now that I’ve got a license, they leave me alone.”
“Coffee Man” has his own T-shirt, brochures and Facebook page while dedicated supporters keep him supplied for his coffee rounds.
Soon, Tucker plans to apply for nonprofit 501(c)(3) status, which means all donations will be tax-deductible.
When he’s not attending to his “warming hearts one cup at a time” effort, as printed on his “Coffee Man” brochure, Tucker can be found faithfully volunteering at the Salvation Army on Monday nights and every Tuesday and Thursday at Our Common Ground Church downtown.
There’s a passage in the Bible where Jesus says giving food and drink to the hungry and thirsty is the same as
doing it to him.
For “Coffee Man,” that would be hot ramen and a good cup of joe.
You can find out where to send him supplies of instant coffee, powdered creamer, sugar, Swiss Miss and Cup O’ Noodles on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Coffee-Man-888873187858895/
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