By Jade Leah Burns, Student Writer
Love Beyond Walls is a movement becoming more popular by the day. Terence Lester, the organization’s founder, started a new campaign in which he is placing portable sinks around Atlanta so the homeless can also fight the COVID-19 virus.
Lester and his organization were concerned for those who have limited or zero access to items that would protect them during Atlanta’s shutdown. Their solution to the problem—self-contained hand washing stations that can be filled with soap for those experiencing homelessness.
“Every single day for the last eight days, we have thought of ways to get water to people living on the streets during this crisis, and we found a way to build and assemble portable handwashing stations that hold up to 10 gallons of water,” the foundation wrote in an Instagram post on March 18.
NataleeAnn Taylor, a sophomore acting major, mentioned how fortunate humans are, and was fascinated that people are generous enough with their time to develop a technology such as portable sinks for the homeless.
“It makes a real difference to bring supplies to the homeless in the Atlanta downtown area,” she said. “It’s awesome how these sinks have both soap and water and are portable.”
Originating in Atlanta, Love Beyond Walls is a non-profit organization that Lester established with his wife Cecilia Lester in 2013. They are committed to sharing the stories of the voiceless by focusing on exposing their realities to increase awareness.
Terence Lester was meeting with a friend one day who brought up the question “Why don’t you become homeless?” Terence Lester thought about this question and after discussing the idea with his wife, he took on the challenge and made himself homeless for a month. His wife took him downtown where he found a place under a bridge with a couple of other people. He explained that after a while, he got used to people just passing by, according to a video on Lester’s website.
Three months after the Lester’s started their organization, they opened up a building that is recognized by the federal government. The couple calls this building the Love Center where people from all around Atlanta walk miles to visit.
People, many of them homeless, stop by the center for many reasons. Some come to get a complete, on-the-spot makeover inside the Mobile Makeover Bus. People can also get haircuts and new clothes for different events such as interviews and church.
Families with the need for necessities such as groceries can do so at the center, along with washing their clothes if they can’t afford a laundromat. There are even opportunities to get an education. Some come to attend an educational workshop so they can learn skill sets and have a better chance at finding employment.
One of the most important reasons that people visit is to get a fulfillment of community, opportunity and hope. Some people show up simply because they have no other place to go. The Lester’s and all of the volunteers are committed to serve them exactly as they are, filled with love.
“Love Beyond Walls has helped me tremendously. They have helped me with clothing and a place to stay. They have been a major part of me transitioning out of homelessness,” Mark Moore, an Atlanta citizen, said.
Terence Lester’s real dream is to obtain a warehouse where he can grow a larger or second Love Center, according to his website. He explains how this initiative would extend to all aspects of poverty: housing, facials, an employment center and a medical clinic are just a few examples. He wishes for a warehouse because it would be a large place where the community can complete a bunch of tasks in a short period of time. He said he wants to take love into places where love doesn’t exist.
For now, Love Beyond Walls has sinks set up in Atlanta only, but their goal is to raise enough money over the next two to three months to expand. They are actively working on partnering with cities across the United States to “plant” sinks in high-trafficked areas.
“This sheds the biggest glance of light on such a tough time,” Tori Gaffey, a sophomore musical theatre major, said. She believes that it is important to help those who are less fortunate in a time of crisis because they need it the most. She said that often, it’s the homeless that are forgotten.