Marshall Eck: Quarterback, Cheerleader and Chef at the Eugene Mission
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A big, bearded, burly man stands in front of a cutting board, his blue polo shirt hanging loosely over his kakis, black Crocs peeking from underneath. With vigor, he cuts an assortment of fruits while humming to “Don’t Stop Believing,” which plays softly on the radio.
He runs his kitchen like the conductor of an orchestra, directing his multifaceted staff to create something beautiful at every meal. This is his passion, his life; it is his revitalization. Marshall Eck, 35, head chef and food services director at Eugene Mission, has spent the past year feeding and working alongside homeless men and women, hoping to steer them away from some of the same bad choices he once made, and perhaps to help them reclaim their lives. The mission, on West First Avenue, every day serves up to 600 people, or about one-third of the homeless population in Lane County. Eck could easily have ended up homeless himself. His life at one time seemed to be headed in that direction.