Every few days the darkness of Hunnell road is brightened up by “Jim the Coffee Man.”
Hunnell is a long-time homeless encampment on the north end of Bend, a couple hundred yards of tents, trashed vehicles, campsites and human misery. Jim shows up in his hybrid Prius, fires up a generator, hooks up his espresso machine and serves coffee drinks to whoever wants one.
The Coffee Man is Jim Howard Tudor, a retired real-estate manager who came to Central Oregon ten years ago. “Retirement didn’t suit me” he says. One of the ways he stays busy is meeting, greeting and serving coffee to the people of Hunnell Road.
“He comes Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.” says Michelle Hester, who has lived here for a year, “it’s awesome, because if it wasn’t for him caring we probably wouldn’t have anybody that cares. There’s not a lot of people out here who stop and take time to get to know us because we’re all different. We’re not all addicts out here, but Jim is awesome. We love our coffee, and we also love Jim.”
For Jim, the coffee is just an icebreaker. The personal connections and the conversations are what really count.
“You know what these homeless people want? More than anything they want acceptance; they want a relationship. And that’s what they get. I don’t care if you’re strung out on fentanyl or you’re not, I don’t care. You’re OK by me.”
Matthew Ebert smiles as he sips a caramel mocha. He doesn’t live on Hunnell anymore but drops by sometimes on coffee days. “It’s a relief because I have someone to talk to. Have that man-to-man conversation. He’s very genuine and you don’t get a lot of that out here. I let it all go, with him. It’s nice.”
The coffee man smiles too, he does that a lot. “I’m a little nutty, so I can relate to these folks. And I do. So, yeah, pretty cool, it’s pretty cool.”
Hunnell Road is going to be cleared out by mid-March according to the city. He worries about the next steps for people who have made this stretch of city street their homes. “And where are you going to go? Oxford hotel? I don’t think so. If you’re on third street you’re just going to go to 2nd street, and that game of whack-a-mole has been going on for 20 years.”
He says he’ll do this as long as he can.
“I get so much more out of this than I put into this, you would never imagine that. I feel accepted by them, they feel accepted by me and that’s tough to figure out in today’s world you know?”
First Coffee Then The World, Inc. Jim Tudor Head Barista