The Community First village is the craziest place I’ve ever been, and ever lived. Ohhhhhhh! I love this place. What we’re doing here in Austin, Texas has never been done anywhere in the United States of America or the world. Mobile Loaves & Fishes has created a new movement designed To lift the most chronically homeless men and women of our community up off the streets. When I look back on it, It was nothing short of a miracle. The current system for addressing chronic homelessness in the United States of America is absolutely not working. This is a human issue that requires a human response. -Peanut butter and jelly or meat and cheese? -Need a blanket, bro? Mobile Loaves & Fishes was started back in 1998 in order to feed the homeless in Austin, Texas. When the truck goes out, those that are serving and those that are being served are on the same side of the serving counter. -Oreos, cookies? Water? There’s no disconnect and this requires a
human-to-human, heart-to-heart relationship. -Yeah, I know what it means. It’s a simple thing. And that, singularly, was the game changer. Truly that food truck ministry is what taught us what we needed to know in order to build Community First! village. In 2004, I came up with this idea that we could go out and buy a gently used recreational vehicle. Lift somebody up off the streets. And I started fantasizing as the serial entrepreneur that I am Why can’t we build an RV park? Community First! Village is a 51-acre master-planned community that is designed to lift the chronically homeless up off the streets of Austin. Mobile Loaves & Fishes cares for the people who have experienced long-term homelessness Many of them 5, 10, 15 even 20 plus years at that point, they have experienced so much trauma. We believe that the single greatest cause of homelessness, particularly in our country, is a profound catastrophic loss of family. I was married for eight years. I got a divorce in ’92. I lost my house and my world because I lost custody of my son, full custody. It devastated me, so I medicated myself with drugs To tell you the truth, I really didn’t want to live anymore But coming to Community First, it’s been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Our role is to really bring them into a community where they are loved and cared about and where they have an opportunity to begin the process of healing from all of that trauma. At Mobile Loaves & Fishes, our only goal is to inspire communities into a lifestyle of service with the homeless. That’s it. The neighbors that live at Community First! village are incredibly gifted human beings. One of the joys of the work that we do is being able to give them the opportunity to put those gifts and talents to work. We create micro-enterprise opportunities for our neighbors to earn a dignified income doing things that they love to do. We have a car care business, art house, the pottery operation, a blacksmithing shop… a wood shop and a full-blown organic farming operation. Over the last two years we’ve paid out more than a million dollars to our neighbors. That’s putting money back into their pockets to help them to be able to earn a living and enjoy life here All of us desire to have purpose in our life. Community First Village is transforming the lives of everyone who’s a part of this community. This place, it’s really empowered me to do great things. I have my own family here. A real family that pulled me up and loved me when I couldn’t love myself. This is where I got my life back. Housing will never solve homelessness, but community will. Catalysts highlights social entrepreneurs exploring bold solutions to big problems. Subscribe to Freethink to be the first to see new episodes.