Austin, Texas. Five friends, members of St. John Neumann's Catholic Church, decided to step it up in loving their neighbors as themselves. They headed into the streets and began serving meals to San Antonio's homeless.
I love it that they put legs on their faith. Rather than having the hungry come to them, they went to the hungry.
That first venture was in September of 1998. Their system needed a bit of refining and when they began working with a formerly homeless man, he helped them smooth out the rough edges and develop one that worked much better.
It still is.
Since then, Mobile Loaves & Fishes have gained 18,000 volunteers in the cities of Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; New Bedford, Massachusetts and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
To the homeless and working poor, they've served over 4 million meals!
As they grew, their vision grew and so did their outreach and ministry.
Today, Mobile Loaves & Fishes does more than feed the hungry. They're providing jobs, building communities and helping provide homes to the financially struggling and homeless. The homes are only a fraction of the bigger picture. They're built in a cooperative community that provides much more than shelter. It allows them to be a part of a largely self-sustaining community that meets the needs of its residents in many ways.
Heart and home
You may nor may not know what it's like to have no close family or friends. When holidays roll around, you may easily be a part of those masses of humanity who are out shopping for kith and kin, putting up decorations, playing their fav holiday tunes while they group and gather week after week to celebrate and enjoy the company of those they love to spend time with.
For thousands of others, that sort of thing is only a dream. Something that only happens in the movies. The stuff miracles are made of.
Thanks to those five friends with a vision, the miracle is manifesting in central Texas. It's a place and they've named it Community First!
Community First! is a 27-acre, master-planned and in-process village that provides affordable, sustainable housing and a supportive community for the disabled and chronically homeless in Central Texas.
Here are some of the assets gained by living there...
The glue that holds all this stuff together is love. It's the thing that moves mountains, makes a way where there doesn't seem to be one, is willing to give up so that someone else might gain.
Love is what covers a multitude of sin and kept the Carpenter on the cross. For those of us who count on Him to help us learn, grow and be the best that we can be, it's what allows us to extend the same compassion to others.
“Everything we do is about relationships. The biggest lesson we have learned over the years is that we are not a food ministry. We merely use food as a conduit to connect human-to-human and heart-to-heart.”
Family is not defined by genetics - Meet Pat and Tony
Tony (on the right), was abandoned as a child and grew up on the streets. His life was one laced with drugs, gangs, violence and crime and eventually a penitentiary became home for him.
After his release from prison, starting over was a staggering challenge. Home became a "cardboard house" in the woods.
In 2005, everything changed for Tony in wonderful ways through Mobile Loaves & Fishes. That year Tony became the very first resident of Community First and he still lives there.
Not only did Tony gain a home in 2005, he gained a father too. J.P. "Pat" Patterson is a founding member of Mobile Loaves & Fishes and serves as vice president on the organization's board of directors.
Per Alan Graham, president and founding member of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Tony met Pat while loading Mobile Loaves & Fishes trucks with supplies for Hurricane Katrina relief. They bonded quickly and have been family ever since.
"About a year ago, I was hit by a car. No longer able to work, I was homeless and hungry.
"Thanks to the Mobile Loaves & Fishes truck, I was able to eat. That’s when I met Steven and he offered me work at Genesis Gardens.
"Now, I am a Community First! resident and have a safe haven from my troubles. I have a home!"
Meet Nancy .. please!
Nancy's story about her relationship and life as a resident in Community First! is amazing.
She wasn't homeless. She and her husband are retired professionals and live there because they want to, and they love it!
After they raised their children, many of whom are adopted, they downsized to live full time in a 300 square foot used RV that was renovated in the Community First! program.
They love it.
"We’ve learned that so much of our 'stuff' is not essential for a rich life. I share much of my day with so many new folks. We walk dogs together, cook/feed volunteers together, harvest crops, sit around a roaring fire on cold nights, share meals — just do life together.
"So many stories , so many incredibly resilient people that choose to not let the horrible trials of life get them down.
"My kids love coming out and being here with us — the grandchildren harvesting food and feeding chickens.
"Life has come full circle, my hopes are unfolding… laughing, tears, getting work done, loving others and finding daily courage to be loved in return. I am rich!"
The complete article about Nancy's story is available on the iGnite: Body, Mind & Spirit website. CLICK HERE to see the full article. It's wonderful!
Only a smidgen
The info I've shared here is only a smidgen of the amazing stories and smorgasbord of information available on the Mobile Loaves & Fishes website. I hope you'll stop by their site to broaden your knowledge about what they're doing, how they're doing it and the progress they're making with it.
There you can see and learn about their Truck Ministry, Community First! project, Genesis Gardens development and Community Works, their dedicated area of the indie biz community.
If you have a passion to lend a hand in helping others, Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a sterling example of how you might consider going about it, maybe even in your own area? Have some friends with a vision? Need a working model to build from? Here's your sign. ☺
Wanna know how I learned about Mobile Loaves & Fishes? Someone shared a link with me on a social site about their work. I clicked it, was moved and amazed by what has come about from five friends and their vision. Please consider doing the same, and share this article with your social networks as well, or even include the link to it in an email to friends, family, colleagues, anyone you think might find the information useful.
Maybe you can share it with a carpenter who has a couple of passionate friends. Carpenters can do amazing things. I would know this. I'm a direct descendant of several of them that I maintain big affinity and admiration for.
While you're sharing, please have a look and consider sharing these latest posts circulating the indie biz community and maybe consider dropping a few coins in their tip jars while you're visiting their sites. They'll sincerely appreciate it!
That's it for this one!
God bless you, thanks for the read and see you next week!
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