Empowering, not enabling

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that my volunteers and I get thanked daily for what we do. It feels so good.

Would it surprise you to know that there are many who feel that what we do is not a help at all but a hindrance? I’ve been told that we are enabling those who want to take advantage of the system. The famous quote, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, has been recited to me more than a few times.

I don’t disparage those people for their opinions because afterall, how many of us are in contact with the hungry and homeless? I never was before I started Helping Feed Atlanta almost 4 years ago and I’ve learned a lot since then as I’m in contact with those in need almost daily.

Give a man a fish. Let’s start there. Atlanta Union Mission, City of Refuge, Malachi’s Storehouse, Fugees Family all have community gardens where their clients work in the gardens.

Before I knew better, I would have thought that the same people came for free produce week after week and year after year at Malachi’s Storehouse and Toco Hills Community Alliance. The fact is, people generally come for about 3 weeks and then they’re gone. Most people just need help while getting through a tough time financially whether it’s because of illness or loss of a job.

Of course there will always be people that take advantage but I’ve learned this is not the majority. People are proud and want to provide for themselves.

I’ve seen the inside of homes in Atlanta’s most blighted neighborhoods and I promise you, it’s not a life of ease.

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