RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — “Even when you feel all hope is gone, you still have someone who loves you and cares. When you don’t know how to care for yourself, someone still loves you,” said Oswald Brodie, one of the hundreds of people fed each day by Richmond Friends of the Homeless.
Shawnee Hansen started the organization 31 years ago after she saw a child digging through a trash can in Richmond, looking for food.
“The first day I fed maybe two people, then four, then eight,” Hansen said. “But now we run about 33,000 meals every week between our three locations.
It’s a volunteer, community effort supported by Muslims, Jews, Christians and Mormons, among many others. To date, 81 groups are now involved.
“I reached out to different churches, and synagogues, and neighborhoods, civic clubs and they all decided they wanted to get a nice lunch down here every Monday through Friday,” Hansen said.
The volunteers provide the food, cook it and serve it to the folks who need it. To date, the organization has served over 3 million meals.
“It’s important that people get at least one good meal every day,” Hansen said.
All people are welcome at Broomfield Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on Richmond’s southside. No questions asked about circumstance or need.
Instead, folks receive a warm greeting, a hot meal, and a big smile. And sometimes they’ll even get a hug.
“It’s a lot of times the only meal they have all day, so they really look forward to it,” Hansen said. “They look forward to the fellowship as well. We try to make everybody feel special. Let them know that we’re glad that they’re here.”
Hansen said she hopes that the program continues to help the community.
“I hope it continues to let neighbors come together as friends. I think it alleviates a lot of problems in the neighborhood and just that it continues to be a blessing to people who really need a lunch every day.”
Hansen said she’s had thousands of volunteers over the years.
Check here to see how you can get involved. Even if you’re not a cook, it doesn’t matter, the group always needs cups, plates, utensils and much more.