Emily Paulson’s concern for the needy was born as a teenager in teacher Len Long’s Leadership class at North Central. As a class project, she spearheaded the largest food and clothing drive in the school’s history. After graduation, she continued working on service projects while earning an education degree at Gonzaga University.
In 2008, Paulson became Coordinator of Gonzaga University’s “Campus Kitchen” program. She and her student leadership team provided weekly dinners for chronically homeless men and women in Spokane. When the program went nationwide under the name “The Campus Kitchens Project,” Emily became its first national Program Manager, overseeing affiliate programs at 31 colleges, universities, and high schools across the country.
A member of the Spokane Homeless Coalition, Paulson received the “Peirone Philanthropy Award” from The Inlander magazine in 2010 for her work with Gonzaga’s “Campus Kitchen” and other charitable food projects. In addition to distributing Gonzaga food services’ excess food to the needy, Paulson and her team collected donated food from local businesses and solicited donations from the public.
“To get people in a better place,” explained Paulson, her weekly dinners for the homeless also feature outreach workers from Spokane Mental Health, the community health (CHAS) clinic, the Salvation Army, and Gonzaga nursing students. “Having enough food to eat is an immediate need,” Paulson explains, “but the importance of community feeds your soul.”