Kansas born started Homeless Helpers Lunches during the COVID-19 lockdown to help the homeless

"I was raised in a small town in Kansas. I was raised not only by my parents but also by an entire community. The community taught me about compassion, the importance of education, and good work ethics. I was fortunate to get exposed to the Poetry of Kahlil Gibran, learn how to ride a horse bareback, and much more. I am Kerry Wiles, living in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. I am the Program Director for a National Cancer Institute-funded research.

Image: Kerry Wiles
Image: Kerry Wiles

In 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. Recovering after 16 months, I finally started thinking about all the things that I have wanted to learn, do, and achieve. I enrolled as a partner and started driving at UBER/Lyft. While driving around the city, I met some interesting people, but I also saw the growing homelessness. Whenever I received any tips, I would match those and use that money to give away free lunches to those who were in need.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, my lab operations shut, and I stopped driving. However, I was not ready to not contribute. I decided to deliver some lunches. One day, I watched a segment in the news that covered a local small business, The Humble Hoagie. The sandwich shop was struggling to stay open. I decided to visit the place for lunch the next day and meet the owner, Paul Maracci. This was the beginning of a great relationship. We discussed how we both could come together to help the needy and to make a profit for his sandwich shop.

When a struggling small business owner agrees to help in the middle of a Pandemic, it does speak a lot about his character and heart! We then started Homeless Helpers Lunches in Nashville.

I started sourcing food items at a negotiable rate and made delicious lunches for the homeless. After the first delivery, a customer kindly agreed to pay for the lunches for the next day. I couldn't be happier. This is when we thought we could accept donations from the customers. For every $1 donated by the customer of The Humble Hoagie, I matched the donation. The support we have received is overwhelming. One of my passengers, Ryan Cedric Caldwell Jr has been a massive help by delivering lunches with me. We are currently working towards a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless.

My inspiration comes from the homeless people in our city. I like to think that not only I giveaway free lunches, but also I go and meet these people, learn about them, and give them an opportunity to talk to someone. I feel blessed that I was in a position to take a small step to create a difference directly. Homelessness is a bigger problem, however, several small actions can make a huge impact.

My silver lining during the Coronavirus lockdown was that when rideshare reduced the number of passengers, no one was allowed to sit in the passenger seat. This meant I could easily carry a cooler full of lunches and water to giveaway to the homeless when I see one. I have strongly learned that the things I once felt were important to me are not really that important. What is more important to me now is to help people and see them smiling.

The collective "WE" and our unique ability to have compassion, love, and harmony are what defines humanity."

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Kerry Wiles for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

If you know someone who is working for others, please share the story https://www.youhumanity.com/share-your-story

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