No One Goes Hungry–Holiday Season Stage it Forward

Real Estate Agent with Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate 0396717

No One Goes Hungry-Holiday Season Stage it Forward

Austin Mobile Loaves & FishesStanding at the corner of 6th and Lamar by Whole Foods, looking at the peach in my hand and waiting for the light to change, my daydreaming is interrupted by the shout of "GET A JOB!"Startled, I look up and see a man in a car glaring at the homeless person standing near me. The homeless person has a sign that says "Dreaming of Mexican Food". The peach in my hand seems heavy now and I walk over and give it to him. "Thanks man...God bless you" he says quietly. I tell him, "same to you" and mention that he should go to Wooldridge Park by the Downtown Austin Library around 6:00 and he can get a free meal from the Mobile Loaves & Fishes Truck.  He says he will check it out and thanks me again.

The light changes and as I walk across I see a young woman in one of those small new "Ultimate Driving Machines" as she leans from the window and shouts, "Hey, why are you helping that bum!"I stifle the urge to say something and put my hand in my pocket to keep from waving at her with one finger. I am amazed at that thinking but not surprised. There are many people who have the idea that they want to be able to succeed without any help from anyone and that is laudable but not realistic because we are not all given the same opportunities. There is nothing wrong with concept that we can all achieve anything through our own efforts. My problem is with those who so arrogantly advocate this in blogs, books, online and in conversation without ever understanding that many people have never had the same opportunities from the very beginning and at the same time, taking for granted what they have!

Tracy Rodenborn and St Michaels Make Ready CrewWe have all heard of the "Puritan Work Ethic" and though admirable it is not always realistic or applicable. I was raised in an affluent family (though I was not aware of it as a child because people were not valued by their income or what they owned) and with the same hard work ideology. My father was a strong proponent of self reliability and working for a living but he also believed that people had a responsibility to take care of those less fortunate. This came from his Christian back ground that he practiced as well as preached (which is why I never won the hypocrisy argument with him).  He was in the grocery business in West Texas and I remember as a child accompanying him to the Salvation Army at Christmas to help hand out turkeys and bags of groceries to poor families in the community. As a child, I was uncomfortable at first but my Dad would remind me that we were doing something to make the lives of those who did without a little better. Even in the last years of his life he continued to donate money and volunteer with The Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, The Adult Literacy Project and Habitat for Humanity. I will forever remember his words, "We live in a country that is so rich and so powerful, there is no reason anyone should ever go hungry. We have a moral obligation to share our blessings with the less fortunate".

A.J. Lindow Liz Saieh Mobile Loaves and FishesAbout ten years ago, I joined a group from AvenueOneProperties and began to volunteer with a new community outreach organization that began here in Austin, Texas called Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Mobile Loaves & Fishes , The brainchild of Alan Graham, with the mission to provide food, clothing, and dignity to our brothers and sisters in need.   They now accomplish this mission through the use of 12 catering trucks that go out onto the city streets of Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, Providence, and Nashville every night of the week.  Now with almost 10,000 volunteers, it started with the hard work of a few volunteers and a single supply truck.

I have helped on the make ready crew preparing food and as a truck driver since I first joined in 2000 and in the last few years have worked witha small crew of friends to deliver meals once a month.We have a good time together Our favorite stop is WooldridgePark by the Austin Downtown Library. My company and my fellow truck crew members save up toiletry items, clothing and other things that that are needed. The irony is not lost on us that we all save bath items from our vacations and often hand out soap and shampoo from such luxurious destinations as the Four Seasons - Bora Bora and other Hotels from across the globe and I even gave out samples from Plaza-Athenee in Paris but soap is soap no matter the source. There is an online sign up for the volunteers to "reserve" a location and for awhile it got a bit competitive. I was on the phone complaining to one of my fellow volunteers about the fact that someone beat us to the punch on "our stop" and my wife gently teased me by saying, "Well are upset because someone else got YOUR homeless people???" I reluctantly laughed and had to agree that was more than absurd wasn't it? Although we DO still compete and manage to get the library stop as often as possible...

Mobile Loaves & Fishes Truck Team 31 Russell Lewis AJ Lindow Liz Saieh Sandy Park Stephani Wolfe Cathleen ButlerI want to take a moment and  thank everyone who have made our efforts possible; Ruth Dore', volunteer coordinator, who patiently herds all of the volunteers on a daily basis, Tracy Rodenborn and Don Haynes of St. Michaels Academy who along with students have prepared the food for the last 5 years. Tracy just had a second baby so this is a shout out to her! I also want to thank my friends and fellow members of truck team 31; A.J. Lindow, Liz Saieh, Sandy Park, Stephani Wolfe and Cathleen Butler  (Pictured in the photo at left)! I always enjoy our time together and look forward to going out with y'all every month!

I just finished a conversation with my brother about his involvement with Mobile Loaves and Fishes and I was reminded of the desperate need of so many these days. Though I wrote this post  awhile back, it's as relevant today as it was then. Last week on my run with our Mobile Loaves and Fishes group, the crowds of homeless and hungry were larger than ever. Alhough Austin and Texas in general has missed much of the trauma of the recent economic downturn it's still affected our city and state. I think people sometimes have a knee jerk reaction to the plight of others and until you actually take a closer look at some of our problems, it is impossible to understand without judging. Look around and see where you might have a chance to contribute, I guarantee you will receive much more than you give!

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Comments (120)

Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

Mobile Loaves & Fishes sounds like a worthy cause to spend your time with!  We have more people like this than ever with our unemployment up to 15%.  I used to empty my console change to a gentleman who walked on Paradise Rd near Tropicana ~ back when the economy was good.  Now my console change is non existant because it seems like lots of popular intersections are filled these days.

You are a good soul for helping this person out immediately and giving them another avenue to fill their belly later.  This is why I like you :)

Nov 18, 2010 03:10 AM
Susan Avant
Austin Portfoio Real Estate - Austin, TX


What a beautiful blog!  And the timing is perfect, this time of year can be especially difficult for the homeless, and those out of work.  Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a fabulous organization, thank you for working with them.

Nov 18, 2010 07:23 AM
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK


You're a good person.

You bless all that you come in contact with in person one way or another and then you bless me when you write about it.

I'm inspired to do more.


Nov 19, 2010 12:40 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Russell, words sometimes can not express our feelings as the economy is still sputtering, some of the people with the harsh comments might be in the same situation as the ones you help. I am a firm believer of "what goes around comes around" keep upt the good work we need more of your kind than the other kind....

Nov 20, 2010 08:27 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I'm so glad you updated this post because I didn't see it originally.  What a great organization!  It goes to show how many good people there are out there willing to help, good people like you who really make a difference in the lives of others.  Your father sounds like a very special man and it is obvious he taught you well!

Nov 20, 2010 12:49 PM

Hi Russell, I was just spending some time on this Saturday evening reading posts fro Austin bloggers and came across this one. What a cool group and nice that Mobile Loaves and Fishes started here in Austin. Though we like to "keep it weird" I find that Austin Texas also has a large group of people who are socially minded and willing to pitch in to help others! Thanks for the story and for your continued service to our great city!

Nov 20, 2010 02:17 PM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


I'm late to the party, but I sure appreciate your blog today!

Mike in Tucson

Nov 20, 2010 02:33 PM
Mary Douglas
United Country Ponderosa Realty, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado - Red Feather Lakes, CO
REALTOR, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Hey Russell, I wanted to come back today and say the same thing to you, "Thank you, man!"  Have a wonderful Sunday!

Nov 21, 2010 05:34 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Hi Russell!  Just wanted to pop over and say that I hope you're having a fantastic Monday and hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Nov 22, 2010 09:22 AM
Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"

Russell Had to climb down 110 comments to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving

Nov 23, 2010 07:36 AM
Allysoun Musslewhite
AvenueOne Properties, Inc. - Austin, TX

Hey Russell, just stopped by to do the same as Karen above and wish you and all your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2010 06:19 AM
Allysoun Musslewhite
AvenueOne Properties, Inc. - Austin, TX

Hey Russell, just stopped by to do the same as Karen above and wish you and all your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2010 06:19 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

With just 36 days left in 2010, Zoey the Cool Cat and I just wanted to stop by and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Hope it’s a great one, with lots of fun and food with family and friends!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 24, 2010 05:59 PM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

You are such a kind and generous soul and I am blessed to have met you face to face!  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours Russell!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 25, 2010 06:43 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Hi Russell!  Love your turkey!  Can't believe you 'caught' him!!  Hope your Thanksgiving is full of blessings!

Nov 25, 2010 10:25 AM
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK


Just popped back over again to say Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 25, 2010 02:53 PM
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

Russell sometimes people think that just because they gave me to a cause they don't need to give their time. People really appreciate it when you are doing things try to help them. After Thanksgiving service at my church yesterday,I helped the Feed the Homeless Ministry with preparing meals to give out. It was a blessing to me because this is the first time that I have helped the Ministry. More than likely I am going to end up joining this Ministry and get back into Ministry again. May God continue to bless you BEYOND BEYOND for your generous giving. Have a great weekend. Great post.

Nov 26, 2010 11:08 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

You're such a wonderful person!  What a nice way to help others, and especially during the holidays when it's really needed.  The feeling you get is far more rewarding than anything else you could be doing with your time.  I hope you have a happy Christmas season, while making others happy.

Dec 07, 2010 12:30 PM
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Russell:  This is simply an awesome way to share what you have with those in need.  My heart goes out to you and to all of those who work with you.  We just must make our actions agree with our beliefs, and you seem to be doing that very well.  Thank you so very much.  Take care...                         January 10, 2011

Jan 10, 2011 11:07 AM
Karen Kruschka
RE/MAX Executives - Woodbridge, VA
- "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS"

Russell  Arthur and I just stopped by to wish you and your family a Very Merry Vhristmas

Dec 18, 2011 02:44 AM

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