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Party at the shelter
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Party at the shelter

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“Thank you, ladies, that was delicious.”

“It’s good, very good.”

The compliments were flying Thursday as the Corvallis men’s cold weather homeless shelter held its annual Valentine’s Day party on Southeast Chapman Place.

Host Virginia Sherry was on hand again, passing out boxed meals and good cheer on a cool, rainy evening in which shelter officials expected a full house of 50 or so guests. Sherry was dressed festively in a red cloak and matching hat.

“God has asked me to do this,” said Virginia, 93, who worked a lot on homelessness issues in Salt Lake City before moving to the mid-valley to be closer to her son, Tom, and his wife, Annie. "It's brought me more joy than anything else that I've ever done."

Tom and Annie were on hand as well. Tom is a former Corvallis Housing First board member and a strong advocate of addressing homelessness by moving individuals into whatever housing is available.

“If you can get people into housing,” he said, “then they can pay attention to their health. If you can get folks stable, then you can get them medical help, counseling and job resources.

“It’s tough. They're disenfranchised. If they get sick they go to the emergency room They live life on the edge.”

Folks began entering the shelter's side door to sign in and get their bags checked about 6 p.m. They then stored their gear on their bunks and  moseyed over to the tables set up for the feast.

Everyone appeared to be a in good mood on this night as the Sherrys passed out the boxed meals, Papa’s Pizza Parlor sent over pizzas and Serena Christian, the famed “sock lady” of Eugene, was on hand to pass out handmade Valentines.

And that was also before the band started playing. The Sherrys arranged for the music as well, a sprightly trio that belted out a steady string of classic rock hits — Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rolling Stones and Buffalo Springfield.

At one point a rock trivia quiz of sorts got underway as a band members asked the guests to name any of the the original five members of the Rolling Stones.

"Paul!" yelled one.

End of rock trivia quiz. And the band played on, moving on to CCR's "Green River."

Guests played air guitar, recorded the event on their cell phones and danced a few turns. Others had their last bites of grub and bedded down for the night. Some teased the band members a bit. 

“You guys ain’t that old,” said one after they finished the 1968 Stones song "Jumpin' Jack Flash."

“Play ‘Free Bird,’ “ yelled another.

And Virginia Sherry just kept smiling the whole time.

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