OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Marilyn Long emotionally expressed her love for the hundreds of people she feeds everyday.
"They don’t eat out here unless I’m here," said Long.
She and her volunteers at the Northeast Resource Center press on, focusing on those that need her, even though her building is damaged.
Monday, three people were hospitalized after a car drove into one side of her facility near N.E. 23rd and Fonshill. It happened as Long was prepping 230 Thanksgiving boxes for families, and a large holiday meal for more than 300 people she expects to show up Thursday.
"Monday when that happened it threw all of us off, but we knew we had to keep moving, and we did," said Long.
The majority of her clients are homeless. She has a passion for helping them with everything from job placement to transportation to and from court dates.
When asked about how Monday's incident affects her busy holiday week, she tearfully said she hasn't had time to think about it considering the need she addresses.
"It's been very tough because I know my building is not safe for us to work in," said Long. "I haven’t stopped to really pay attention to what has really happened, what the impact of it is right now, I knew the building needs fixing, it needs to be redone. My focus been on, ‘Let me get through this holiday here with the people.'"
She said her thoughts are with the three people who were hospitalized following Monday's wreck. But that for now, she can only focus on getting through the holiday to feed the people who need her. The wreck, though, threw off her funding plan for the rest of the year.
The Northeast Resource Center provides three meals a day, five days a week, plus thanksgiving baskets for families. That is funded by their thrift store. The thrift store is the side of the building the car plowed through.
"It means that our black Friday sale that we were going to have this coming Friday will be on hold now," said Long. "That means that's funding we'll be losing because we don't get any grants."
She says it also means a previously scheduled winter clothing giveaway won't happen Friday either. Long says she doesn't know how long it will take to get the building back in working condition.
An elderly woman, a man, and the driver, 32-year-old Lashonda Mitchell, were all taken to the hospital. The owner of the car, Mark Clewis, was in the passenger seat.
"[Mitchell] started smashing [the pedal], stopped in the middle of the street, then hit a hundred [mph]," said Clewis.
Oklahoma City Police say once Mitchell is released from the hospital, she will face a series of traffic charges including driving with a suspended license and failing to provide insurance.