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Seeding a nonprofit for unhoused people

Kaiser Permanente Vacaville nurse Maura Andrews, RN, feeds and clothes homeless people. Pictured, Shannon Tompkins Wester, left, and Andrews, in Fairfield.

In 2020, Maura Andrews, a post-anesthesia nurse, and her friend Shannon Tompkins Wester, RN, a Labor and Delivery nurse, both at the Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center, founded John’s Table, a nonprofit that feeds and clothes homeless people in and around Fairfield, California. 

The nonprofit they started is named after family members who died, both named John: Andrews’ brother, who was homeless in Fairfield for decades, and Tompkins Wester’s son, who died unexpectedly.

About 2 years ago, the 2 began cooking pots of soup to feed homeless people from folding tables in public parks and parking lots, and they began collecting clothes for them in the winter.

“We started out with just the soup, and then we put out a call on Facebook for clothes, and we got a storage unit for $150 a month to store our tables and equipment,” said Andrews. 

“The work fills our spirit. It’s a wonderful thing.” — Maura Andrews 

As their operation grew, the 2 started a nonprofit to raise more money to meet rising demand. 

In Fairfield the homeless people the organization helps are living in drainage tunnels, caves, and under bridges, to name a few, said Andrews. The organization has grown to 5 board members and about 10 volunteers, including 2 regular cooks. They distribute food wherever homeless people tend to congregate, and they collaborate with partners to offer vaccines. 

For a time, Andrews’ brother would come for dinner every Sunday, until he passed away on January 30, 2022.

The group prepares a hot meal as well as a packaged lunch to go.

“Even if we can’t get people out of their current situation, they still know we care,” said Andrews. “The work fills our spirit. It’s a wonderful thing.”



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