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Chris Veloon

"Someone told me Oregon was beautiful," says Chris Veloon, who grew up in Grafton, Wisconsin, and studied occupational therapy at the University of Wisconsin, "and that Eugene was a lot like Madison." Since she arrived at age 27, Veloon has worked for PeaceHealth and McKenzie-Willamette hospitals, and, for the past ten years, for Cascade Health Solutions, a non-profit community health agency. "I'm an OT in home health," she says. "Two of us cover the county. We mostly see elderly people with health issues. We help them stay safely in their homes." She also pays a weekly visit to Alsco, a facility in Eugene that provides and launders uniforms and linens for area hospitals, restaurants, and hotels. "I'm there to prevent and treat workplace injuries," she says. "The plant manager, Bill Inge, believes in an ounce of prevention." When Veloon saw napkins with worn-out hems being thrown into a bag, she learned that they were sent to the landfill, as it was cheaper to buy new ones than to resew them. "I asked Bill if I could find new homes for them, as long as it wasn't a conflict of interests," she says, "and he said, 'Sure.'" She got in touch with Kelly Bell at Lane County Waste Management, who has helped her find many new homes, including last year's Whiteaker Thanksgiving Dinner, a design class at LCC that made them into clothing, and the Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts (MECCA). "I pick up a couple hundred a month on average," says Veloon. "It feels good to keep them out of the waste stream."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 24 March 2016

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