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Leah Riedlinger

Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Leah Riedlinger arrived in Eugene with her family at age one. She played soccer at Buena Vista Elementary and Monroe Middle School, but switched to cross country as a sophomore at Sheldon High. "I spent the next summer in Alaska, packing fish," she says. "I came back, took three extra classes and graduated after my junior year." She spent one year in Texas ("because I like country music") and worked in a restaurant, then started college at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. "They had a cool ethics program," she says. "I decided to be a philosophy major." She studied Spanish and theology for a year at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador, and worked for Pedalers Express in Eugene while completing a BA in philosophy at the UO. Afterwards, she had jobs with nonprofit groups in Portland and spent three years in a Buddhist monastery in Okayama, Japan. "I was on track for ordainment as a nun," she says, but instead she returned to Eugene in 2013 and found work as a case manager with Catholic Community Services. "I liked working there. I was given the names of people at the Mission or living in a tent, and I worked to help them get approved for rentals." She is currently a graduate student in social work at Portland State, designing research projects to facilitate conversation between the unhoused and those living more privileged lives. On Wednesday, November 29, she will host Lunch Match Eugene, a free workshop for a mixed group of unhoused and more privileged participants, who will share personal stories, solution-focused conversations, and lunch. For information on participation, email lunchmatcheugene@gmail.com or call 541-357-9638.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 22 November 2017

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