Every Sunday morning, about 40 volunteers serve up heaping plates of scrambled eggs and fruit to the hungry at a church in Rhode Island. This particular group of helpers knows what the recipients really need -- a warm meal, a kind smile, some encouragement -- because these particular volunteers recognize their struggles. They’re all homeless.
"Early on we realized that people want to be useful," Scott Budnick, the founder of the unique meal program, told the Christian Science Monitor. "A lot of times, the person from the street knows our process better than the outside volunteer. It puts them in the leadership role."
A little over a year ago, Budnick teamed up with a friend to start the Sunday Morning Friendship Breakfast, a free weekly meal that’s open to anyone, and caters to about 200 people at the United Methodist Church in Providence, R.I., according to the Christian Science Monitor. Inviting the homeless to get involved in cooking and serving alongside other volunteers has helped empower people in need. Budnick hopes the program will also spawn support groups for the homeless.
While recruiting homeless people to serve each other food is somewhat of a novel concept, it’s not unusual to see people on the streets eager to give back.
Ed Denst, a former Marine who’s been homeless in Los Angeles for 23 years, collects whatever change he can for the poor and donates it to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Council, CBS LA reported. He recently gave $250 to the organization, which provides food, shelter and clothing to people in need.
“[It] makes me feel very good,” Denst told CBS.
And Dennis Mahurin didn’t let his homeless status keep him from helping others.
When the Illinois man won a $50,000 lottery, he could’ve funneled all of the money into moving out of his tent and investing in other upgrades, CINewsNow.com reported last month. But he decided to stay put in his community and allocate some money to help his friends.
"With all the other homeless people around here, I've made up my mind,” Mahurin told the news outlet. “I'm gonna give them each $100."