Jill Hodgson likes to call herself a "broke philanthropist," which is not just funny, but probably also an apt description of her role as a jack-of-all-trades do-gooder in Central Oregon.
Her job finds her as the volunteer coordinator at Common Table, downtown Bend's nonprofit restaurant, but her work extends far beyond that role. She's a poet who speaks about social change, she provides a helping hand to the city's homeless youth, helps out with arts education, coordinates neighborhood food growing efforts and, on top of all that, is always looking to help out friends and neighbors who also want to get involved in bettering the community.
"I think most people in town see me as someone who, in general, cares about people," says Hodgson, who grew up in Roseburg.
But this life is new to Hodgson. Just two years ago she was living in Long Beach, Cali., and was the marketing director for one of the world's largest architecture firms. She describes her life then as "very corporate" and even spent some time living in the swanky Standard hotel. She has also spent time studying the reefs in Central America and researched climate change. Then, she decided she needed a change and she eventually landed in Bend about a year and a half ago.
It didn't take her long to jump into making a change in Bend. Last summer, her house became sort of de facto neighborhood food outlet where she'd send out a bat signal-like message to let people know she was open for business.
"I would go pick up food from different grocery stores and I'd set up a makeshift store in my backyard and when I put up a flag, it meant people could come over," says Hudson, who is well versed in the area of local food and community farming. This seems to have been the jumping off point for her current efforts to help out with community gardens here in Bend.
When she first came to town, Hodgson was working at a downtown convenience store, which allowed her to meet a number of the city's homeless youth. While it was hardly part of her job description, she nevertheless set out to see what she could do to assist these kids, which included working with another local nonprofit, Icon City.
"I got to know a lot of the street kids. I try to do what I can to get them into good situations," she says.
While her work largely speaks for itself, Hodgson is adamant about letting people know that she's not doing all of this alone, but rather is part of a group of people in Bend who are focusing on strengthening the community as a whole. As much as she might want to downplay her efforts, it's clear that she's a local hero.
"I kind of just bounce around," she says, "People come to me when they need some networking and want to get involved.
Favorite Quote: "It is time for all the heroes to go home, if they have any, time for all of us common ones to locate ourselves by the real things we live by." - William Stafford