Michael Airhart, founder of Flavor for the Homeless, is a local community leader in Chicago. His mission is to uplift the homeless by supplying companies for them to turn into contributing citizens. Airhart’s enthusiasm is to guarantee the homeless acquire a hot meal, private cleanliness items, and apparel. His motto is, “Who are we as human beings if we overlook the struggling of other people.”
TG: What was your upbringing rising up?
MA: I grew up in Altgeld Gardens. Developing up in the assignments in the early 1970s was rough for the younger era at that time. The crack epidemic afflicted lots of of my friend’s dad and mom who were being addicted to crack, such as my mom. There have been occasions growing up when I manufactured improper conclusions. I have hardly ever hid the reality that I use to market prescription drugs and joined a gang. I was not in the gang to damage persons. I would make foods, offer clothing to the gang member’s families.
I was that kid that was always building up solutions for a meal. Whatever was still left in the kitchen cabinet, I would build a food. I experienced an more mature brother. He didn’t have it in him to be the significant brother, so I experienced to action in and get obligation for feeding my brothers. Back in the working day, you could go to your neighbor and request to borrow some food items. Each and every day, I would knock on the neighbor’s doorway and borrow some food stuff and make a food to feed my pals. Feeding the local community stayed with me because I desired to make sure everybody had a excellent food.
TG: What led you to feed the homeless?
MA: I went to the Style of Chicago with some pals. When we obtained there, the Taste of Chicago was about the near. The meals vendors were not supplying the food absent. They have been throwing it in the trash.
There was a homeless person, and he didn’t have any tickets. He approached the booth exactly where I was and seen a employee throwing food items away. The homeless guy explained he was hungry and questioned the worker for a slice of pizza. The worker informed the homeless male to get away from his booth, or he was likely to simply call the police. I was mad mainly because the worker was throwing absent the foods in the homeless man’s facial area. I gave the employee the tickets to get the homeless man a pizza. The employee refused my tickets. I advised the employee, “Your coronary heart is not of God.” I gave the homeless man some dollars. He cried, hugged me, and left. That incident inspired Taste for the Homeless. It is set up just like the Taste of Chicago. We bus in the significantly less lucky all around Chicago to a single location, and all the foodstuff is free.
TG: When you are driving and see a homeless man or woman, what is your first response?
MA: My initially reaction is I have to pull in excess of. Possibly we would give them some dollars to get something to eat or meals in the truck. My wife and I can not go previous anyone understanding that they are hungry. We just can not do it.
TG: How has this working experience affected you, and do you have time to sit back again and think about the lives you have saved from hunger?
MA: I imagine about it all the time, and it touches my heart. I have run into a good deal of men and women that have stood in line for a food. They appear up to me and inform me they are no for a longer period in the streets. They tell me they have a work and show me pics of their home. They arrive to uncover me to convey to their tale. I achieved a youthful person whose household was residing in a automobile. They didn’t have anything. We experienced our initially Flavor for the Homeless in Dolton, IL. His family members arrived and acquired every thing they required to get back on their ft. The young guy concluded high faculty, university and has a task. He despatched my spouse and me an e mail thanking us. The younger male comes and volunteers with us. People are the stories we get from a great deal of people we have assisted.
TG: Has the pandemic produced it tough to carry on your mission to feed the hungry?
MA: My wife and I continued to feed the hungry all through the pandemic. We have been out there every single day. We had been out there when the pandemic was actual terrible, providing not only foodstuff but apparel.
TG: What tips would you give to others who want to give again to the group?
MA: Have confidence in God. You never will need a 501(c) (3) to give back again to aid some others. We stepped out faithfully and trustworthy God that he would supply almost everything we need to feed his people. Feeding the considerably less fortuitous, you never have to have an instruction ebook. If a particular person is hungry, feed them. It’s that straightforward. Make some sandwiches and give them to the homeless. There is no guide on how to volunteer your time to support many others. Just do it.
TG: How critical is it to have your spouse doing work with you feeding the group?
MA: I could not have finished it without the need of my spouse. I know God has my back. Acquiring my spouse beside me, comprehending me, knowing my ups and downs is a blessing. When you have that important other that supports you, it’s amazing.
Pamela Airhart: We grew up in a community that was for the local community. Sadly, we don’t have that any more. My mom was generally offering back. I discovered that from her. I never desired to see any individual go without having. My husband and I are one particular beat, one sound.
TG: The place do you see Flavor for the Homeless in the long run?
MA: Taste for the Homeless is heading to one more stage. Just about every working day, I have a conversation with the Lord. It amazes me what he is undertaking with my mind. Taste for the Homeless will be the givers that the Lord would like on this Earth. The Lord said, I have not seen almost nothing nevertheless. I instructed the Lord that I want it now. The Lord stated 1 working day at a time. I know there is a lot more to occur in the foreseeable future. My wife and I are making ready ourselves to be all set.
To volunteer and donate to Taste for the Homeless, go to https://tasteforthehomeless.org/.
Tammy Gibson is a black heritage traveler and writer. Obtain her on social media @SankofaTravelher.
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