There’s a park named Hurt in Downtown Atlanta mentioned in my book, and I pass it often while Traveling at the Speed of Bike. I wrote how people there are hurting, as it’s a place where those experiencing homelessness and other life challenges often congregate and sleep. Many times on Sundays, I see what appears to be volunteers providing food to those in need there. Perhaps a church group, I figured.
Fast forward to today, out here in suburbia, when I popped into the little Italian market by the dry cleaner to pick up some sauce for pizza since my basil is ready to start harvesting. I ran into a friend of mine named Susan Cicero, who was enjoying the end of her lunch with a young man whose broad smile matched hers. Turns out it’s her grandson, Marcus Acosta, and he is the founder of a nonprofit organization named Hands Across Atlanta. They are the ones feeding those in Hurt Park every month. (They also provide hair cuts and other services at the same time.) Additionally, his group helps veterans and school children in need throughout the month.
We got to talking, and I learned Marcus started his outreach with 25 bologna sandwiches while a student at the nearby Dunwoody campus of what’s now Georgia State University six years ago as his mother was battling stage 4 cancer. Now, his organization often helps upwards of 800 people at a time. Here is a video about Marcus and Hands Across Atlanta that premiered on their popular Facebook page:
And just to show how small the world can get pretty quickly, guess who Marcus’ roommate was? Jason Winter, the founder of Hope thru Soap, previously featured on this blog after we crossed paths.
I guess we’re all connected, hand to hand, across Atlanta and beyond, in ways we don’t always realize.