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Why this family-run nonprofit that's feeding the hungry deserves to stay open.

'We do this to say, "Come be happy. Let us take care of you."'

Why this family-run nonprofit that's feeding the hungry deserves to stay open.
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State Farm

Hosea Williams once had an interaction with a homeless man that changed his life — and his family — forever.

That day, he came across a man eating out of a garbage can, so he decided to buy him a sandwich. The man was so hungry he ate right through the wax paper to get to the food.

Williams was so struck by the experience that he immediately decided to do something to help on a larger scale. And as a national field officer for Martin Luther King Jr., he was no stranger to rallying humanitarian efforts. That Sunday, he and his family fed 100 homeless and hungry people.


Hosea Williams. All photos via State Farm.

And that was just the beginning of their work.

They soon started a nonprofit called Hosea Helps to keep their mission going to help the homeless and hungry. Now, over 40 years later, his daughter, Elisabeth Omilami, is at its helm.

Thanks to tireless efforts and thousands of volunteers, they've fed over 500,000 people since 1971.

Hosea Helps volunteers.

"We were there for Katrina. We were there for Flint, Michigan. We were there for Haiti and the Philippines, Uganda. We were there," Elisabeth says.

However, aside from helping during large-scale humanitarian crises, the organization shines on national holidays.

One of their biggest events happens on Thanksgiving. They serve Thanksgiving dinner to thousands of people at one time, and they can enjoy it while listening to live music.

They also give access to hot showers, clothing, toiletries, medical examinations, legal advice, job placement, chiropractor services, housing consultation, and counseling free of charge to those who need it.

"We do this to say, 'Come be happy. Let us take care of you,'" Elisabeth says.

Considering all they do, it's heartbreaking to learn Hosea Helps itself lost its home recently.

Hosea Helps volunteer closing down their original space.

They were given 30 days to vacate the space they'd been occupying for over 26 years. It was the same building where Elisabeth's father Hosea's offices once were.

Because of this major setback, the Omilamis weren't sure the organization was going to make it through the year.

However, thankfully, there's a new generation stepping up to the plate to make a difference.

Elisabeth's son, Awodele, is going to be taking over Hosea Helps and already has big plans for the nonprofit. He's been helping the homeless since he was a boy and will pick up the torch by spearheading renovations in their new building.

"We sold everything — we had just to get that building — but it was worth it to secure the future of our organization," Elisabeth says.

Jeremy Austin, one of Hosea Helps' volunteers.

They have high hopes for the new space, but they also have some incredible volunteers — many of whom used to be homeless themselves.

"When I got help, it was more than just food," says Jeremy Austin, one of Hosea Helps' volunteers who used to be homeless. "They actually helped me find a job. They pretty much changed my life."

Hosea Helps has 18 different programs designed to help solve the problems facing families and individuals who are living in poverty and may be facing homelessness.

Some of these programs are research-based while others are putting plans into action designed to ease the burden of poverty, but all programs are aimed at turning around the homelessness epidemic.

A child and grandmother at a Hosea Helps event.

"We’re all one big family," says Sean Peek, another volunteer. "We have to help each other out."

There's still a lot that needs to be done for Hosea Helps to get back on track, but the Omilamis aren't worried. They'll always find a way.

"Even if the future holds us having to make bologna sandwiches and take them under the bridge, then that’s what we’ll do," says Afemo.

Despite all that organizations like Hosea Helps do, homelessness remains an enormous problem in America. If you want to lend a hand, there are so many ways for you to get involved. Check out Hosea Helps' website for more details.

Learn more about their work here:

Help for the Holidays: Hosea Helps

They're going to feed thousands of homeless people this holiday season despite the fact that the organization was recently without a home itself.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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