This last Saturday before Thanksgiving, I reached out to Elisabeth Omilami, President and CEO of Hosea Helps about the organization's 50th year serving our community members experiencing food and home insecurity. Hosea Helps is a mainstay, and they do it all with donations from the community.
Elisabeth shares that her Dad started feeding the hungry and homeless in 1970. He was on Auburn Avenue, the Black Wall Street of the Southeast, and a man was eating out of a trashcan. Omilami says that her father, Hosea Williams, went to Yasim's Fish on Auburn Avenue and bought the man a sandwich. Her father told her that the man was so hungry he ate the meal through the bag.
That began the organization's outreach to feed and house those in need. Hosea Williams originally began feeding men at the Wheat Street Baptist Church. She mentions that at that time, the homeless population was mostly made up of men. Today that has changed, and the majority of the homeless in our community are families.
Omilami shares that most people wouldn't believe Hosea Helps clients have jobs. Some are working two jobs but still cannot afford to house their family.
It is estimated that over 8,000 people will be homeless on Thanksgiving Day in Metro Atlanta. Most years, Hosea Helps feeds the hungry and provide wrap-around services, including health screenings, clothing, and even haircuts. This year due to COVID-19, they are preparing food boxes for distribution either via automobile or walk-up. They will be at the Georgia World Congress Center from 10 am until 2 pm. In addition to food items, they are also providing PPE, masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer.
Hosea Helps is looking for volunteers from now until Thanksgiving to pack food boxes for distribution on Thanksgiving Day.
I asked Elisabeth to share with us information about her father. Hosea Williams was the National Field Director at the SCLC during the critical days of Dr. King's campaigns. She shares that he was a scientist, specifically a chemist. He was a workaholic who never took a vacation and slept very little. In contrast to today's polarized political atmosphere, Omilami talks about him reaching out to and working with then Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, a segregationist and known Klan sympathizer. She speaks about Hosea Williams working with Lester Maddox to institute programs for the poor, written with the white community in mind, but uplifting the Black community.
Hosea Helps is WCLK's official non profit partner, and during our year end on air membership campaign December 1-7, people who call or go online to pledge support to WCLK will have the option of also supporting Hosea Helps.