Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Food Play

Food Play began in 2008 as a way to entertain and educate a group of children whose mothers were part of a network at the South Florida Women's Health Center. A dedicated group of friends built a network of support within the community to help feed, give clothing, and care to the homeless and at risk living in the Hollywood, Florida area on Highway US1. During Grand Opening of the Women's Center in July of 2008,  Food Play was introduced was introduced in three sessions along with Dirt Play and Painting Without Brushes.

The first six kids to sit and play were all vegan and had no problem with the concept of touching, feeling, tasting and creating with vegetables. It was thought to be a great success. The challenge began when the next group of eight kids sat down saying 'ewe', 'yuck', 'I'm not touching that'... and so the Play began. After a few words and simple tricks, all the children started to build and create.

Since that first day in Hollywood, Food Play has been a great success. Not one child has left the table unsatisfied, once they see peas as eyes and mushrooms as heads, all becomes play and nothing is a vegetable anymore. The secret of Food Play is not magic... it is the imagination which allows for acceptance. Art turns food into medium and plantains into pirate ships filled with golden (corn) treasures.

Food Play turned from an idea to entertain into a tool to help educate and entice children to eat better. After just one session parents have noticed their children more interested in eating, buying, or playing with vegetables at home!

In ten years Food Play has evolved in so many ways. First and foremost Thanks to all the grocery stores, famers markets and produce vendors who supported Plays over the years. Many Thanks to The Pollination Project for first funding and supporting Food Play as an event in Vegan Restaurants as well as the first supporters of the 12x12 Project which has grown as the main support of Food Play through EAO Art Shop. Many Thanks also to ALDI USA for supporting Friday Fundays in Miami at Lotus House. Without the help of the community none of this would be possible.

Thank You!!!

Come Play! Reserve your tickets on Eventbrite!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I will never forget Tony. I learned today that Tony "recently fell in the New River and died". The tears I cry for that man and the way my heart feels, a friend has been lost. Had someone told me years ago that I would trust, befriend and love a drunk, drug addicted, homeless man like Tony I would have laughed. I would have asked if they were on crack. Never would I have imagined to find myself loving, and now crying over a guy like Tony. Our friendship was a special one and one that many others shared in our circle of people who love and serve the homeless in South Florida.

The first night I really met Tony was when we began to gather information for  'Lovebags' in Ft. Lauderdale. I brought my camera and was ready to take pictures of all the homeless people in order to make an online database on Ning (before Facebook) so those who were serving would be familiar with the faces and needs of the individuals. Tony was brought over and introduced to me by Bob, the group's leader. From the red of his eyes and the smell of his breath I knew Tony was on something and I knew from his behavior it was the hard stuff. He was amiable at the beginning, following the command of his leader and obliging to having a photo taken on account that it only be seen by the intimate group of friends who he knew would use it to help him. By helping him, I mean give him the little bits of love he learned to rely on as the little nuggets that helped to get him through the darkest times of his life.

The first photo I took of Tony was in July of 2008 around back of the Woman's Center building in front of the Ft. Lauderdale Public Library. The image that was captured was probably the mask 99% of the people know as Tony, absolutely frightening. I knew it was not the face I could reveal and asked for a few more shots.  He did allow me to take a couple more and was pleased with the outcome. He gave me his dob: 6/4/61, waist 32, shoe 9 with a short list of what he needed. Then he became candid and allowed me to take a shot of him and our friend Jules, a fellow Lovebagger. That night the first photo I took and the real Tony that emerged matched as one.  I don't even recognize it as him now...

After I shot a few images and took some notes as to his name, age, and a few things he needed I went to the next person. At the time I was very comfortable being on the street conducting outreach to homeless and being with the Lovebags people gave me an extra sense of safety and security. On the same note this special group of people made the population we were serving feel comfortable. Peace was felt by all as they trusted the good Christians were sent to them by Jesus himself for service. Tony came to Lovebags looking for the message of God, as well as the free meal, clean socks, occasional razor and hugs.

Lanky bones looming 6 foot 4 inches with skin that my grandma would say "was as black as night" and eyes that not only popped but at times boiled red - Tony could be intimidating to say the least. At the best of times his hair would be twirled and sticking in  all directions from his head like a wild man. Depending on what he had injected or poured into his body, I never really saw Tony straight. It was as if ever chakra was spinning in its own direction as he walked, each dimension of his being shifted in an unbalance. As long as you focused on his eyes and heart when he aimed in your direction, only then could you really see and be ready for Tony.

That first night I broke into Tony's heart within minutes... no sooner did the drug he was on turn him against me. He allowed me to take his pictures and then as I was leaving that night he pulled me aside and asked if I would do him a favor. In the darkness of the park he handed me a small slip of paper and asked me if I "could write some words" for him. Spoken like a true sketchy drug dealer, at first I had to try to understand what he was asking. "Words?" I knew well the game-face and how to play with misunderstandings on the street when it came to lingo... but 'words' I was wracking my brain. For a second I thought he tapped into my secret world and knew I had been a closet poet for a decade and maybe God was telling me to pull that out, or maybe this was some code I needed to decipher to get to the next level of his game. I became aware that I was alone with him and only armed with my camera and a slip of paper stood between us. The tension was intense as he expected a response and I had nothing to give. Just as my mind was looking for an answer to this request for 'words' he went on to say how "Jules, she usually gives them to me".

Of course! Tony was asking me to write him a verse from the bible. He was asking me to write him words of inspiration to hold him until the next Tuesday. Just a few little numbers and some words to help him not take that next hit. A simple slip of white paper in his pocket that would bring him the light and love that he needed during his darkest times. Simple. Yet close to impossible for a person who can not memorize a simple grocery list let alone a quote or words. I remember telling him that I was not the best person to ask for "words", unless he wanted me to write him an original poem. In which case he chuckled a bit and cocked his head to the side in the Tony-way. Looking wide eyed and down as if he spotted an alien. His shoulders squared up a bit more and his arms went wide. He grew about two more inches as his eyes started to bulge. I was watching the monster emerge from a misunderstanding. That moment in time when a demon trusts an angel to rub under their belly, seeing the soft spot. Tony allowed me to see he was in need and when I could not deliver he snapped. He started to scream "You ain't no Christian!?! I thought everyone here was Christian!!!" He went into a full flailing attack screaming in his disgrace as I had somehow been let in and contaminated his sacred bubble with my inability to recite versus.

As his arms and voice rose so did the eyes of those who protected. Luckily three of the biggest guys there were watching and showed up behind him. Calmly and with grace they plucked Tony from me and all was silent. I don't want it to sound as if Tony tried to attack me, although that is sort of what happened. I never saw it as that, I saw it as he felt betrayed and I always understood. I will never forget catching the eyes of those who grabbed him and pulled him away from me, calming him down and removing me from the scene. There was more laughter than shock. More of a joke 'How did you set him off?' than a concern. Crack is everywhere on the streets, if you can't laugh at it you can't be out there. Tony felt that I was a traitor, that I was exploiting him because I was not up to par with what he expected. I understood and respected him for that. For weeks when he would see me it would set him off on an outburst of anger and more than once I had to leave or he had to be removed. I will admit, I was terrified in one way but knew in another he was just like any other crackhead out there. I made a choice to help people on the streets and crack is a part of that choice. Tony taught me to see beyond that. The collective love of Lovebags helped Tony to see that as well. This allowed for all of us to grow.

Eventually we learned to avoid each other. I had the advantage, because I don't use crack, so when I would see him coming through the darkness I would usually take off so he could have his space. Time went on and we were relocated from the Library to various other places. It wasn't until one night when we were in the inside parking lot of Holiday park that Tony and I made amends. Armed with baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables I set up a 'Free Farmers Market' for our homeless friends. Crates of carrots, apples, oranges, peppers, grapefruit, celery, everything... even radishes. It was the radishes that broke Tony. I was holding handfuls of radishes in bouquets of some 20 red bulbs held by little blue elastics. I can remember my hands full as he approached my stomach flopped. All that was between me and crackhead Tony were  about a hundred rubbery radishes. I remember looking down at them and praying hard. He aimed straight for me with his whacky hair and ghetto smooth gait, his eyes mirroring the color in my hands. I was not ready for him and was nervous. He stood in front of me completely calm looking at my hands with wide eyes and wild hair, arms by his side. A minute that lasted pretty long passed and then he broke out into peel of hysterical laughter. "Now THAT is something I've never seen. Radishes on the street. Hahahaha... What you say your name is again?"

That was it. I did not need a white flag, I just needed that red bouquet. From then on I became 'The Radish Lady' to Tony and each week we would talk over vegetables. Handing over a bouquet of ruby red radishes to Tony that night, and so many nights after that, bonded our friendship. I could not give him Peace in the written word but I could feed him memories of childhood through wilted roots. There was a certain sense of acceptance as I had shown my worth to him standing behind my bounty. Standing behind my baskets I would position myself before the food line started and tell each man he needed to eat his vegetables. It was the pre-dinner show and entertained all of them. They each tried to out do the other by preforming great feats - like biting into a fresh pepper or eating a tomato whole. So many of them just stared in awe at the colors, which they never get to see on the street. My best customers would tell me stories of growing up and gardens from their childhood. I would watch their eyes sparkle in nostalgia as they held a simple green pepper. Tony, he would just come over with a huge smile and ask me "Got any more of those radishes?" laughing wholeheartedly he had a way of holding that bouquet and eating from it, plucking the head from its wilted greens.

Another connection between us was Rufus. Tony loved to say his name and had a special way of doing it so it mattered and made people laugh. Rufus was the shortest and Tony the tallest. Rufus the lightest and Tony the darkest. They reflected each other brilliantly. Many a time when Rufus, the smallest and shortest of the group, would be walking around investigating he and Tony would happen upon each other. Rufus would stare up at Tony and Tony would say his name real loud and look down at him. They would have their little moments of understanding and contemplation. Tony would laugh at Rufus's hair when it got long and wild like his. After Rufus died Tony still would say "I remember Rufus, he was a good dog." There was an equally special bond between Rufus and Tony as Rufus did not like many men. It was Tony's other side Rufus did not like and would be the first to react, however Rufus also seemed to respect and understand Tony and his addiction.

Tony was there during pinnacle points of my life working street outreach. I saw the many faces and personalities of Tony and learned to play with each one of them with great care. He taught me a lot about feeling energy and knowing the vibe of the street. One night he came to me so drunk he hardly recognized me, our time I spent scolding him like a mother would a child. That night I surrounded him with words and support, prayers and communion. We were afraid we lost Tony that night. The next week when he showed up all happy and said "you know, its been a while since I have seen you" I replied without breaking a smile, "Yeah, I have been hanging out with your twin brother a lot. Let me tell you about that guy Tony..." I would speak very open and honest with Tony and several times I told him how his 'brother from another mother' was breaking my heart with the way he abused himself. I would tell him these things in front of our mutual friends and he would hear my concern and knew it was from my heart. He would take it to his own. Tony loved this. This was better than the radishes. He would throw his head back and howl while holding his stomach, slapping his knee and doing a little jig. "Ah-Ha-ha, Ooo... That guy! Hahaha..." It was this play that really brought us to a whole new level of understanding. For years after that it was "Hey, you see my brother?!" in which I would always say "I hope not, that guy is bad news!" We would laugh and hug each other like old friends.

One of the last times I saw Tony I remember we were sitting under a tree by the fence off US1 near the place Lovebags gathered that night. We were with a young man who was the same age Tony was when he hit the streets. Coincidentally this young man left his house, much like Tony did, to go to the corner store to pick up something and instead fell into an old addiction of Crack. This young man had been away from his home for 28 hours, with a girlfriend, young son, and mother all wondering and waiting for him. Wearing the same clothes, having been up, high and outside the whole time, he needed to go home. Tony was his Angel that night. That night under that tree, hiding from the eyes of everyone he felt was judging him, that young man got Tony's story. Hardcore reality sometimes hits home when you need it most. Tony told of his lost son because of his addiction. He wanted more than anything to see the family he left behind, but every day became a week, a month, a year and he got lost. After hours of sharing, crying and hugging each other, that young man was driven home and brought into the arms of his crying mother who thanked fellow Lovebaggers for their deed. We all saw first hand the power of forgiveness and love through our actions with that young man. That night Tony told me he was done with it all. That night, he believed that young man was a messenger for him to reconnect and get back what he lost. I will never forget the amount of hope I felt that night for both those men. I believed Tony wanted out that night, I believe if the addiction wasn't so deeply rooted he could have been free that night. That night I saw the truth of these two beautiful, strong, loving men held away from their hearts by a drug.

Over the years I watched how the food and support, love and 'words', of this group of people helped save Tony. He was becoming more sober and straight. His conversations were clearer and more focused on tangible things. He never told me his problems, unless it was that he needed a new pair of shoes or a new t-shirt, which he only asked of me once or twice in all those years. He always came to me asking how I was. Asking how Rufus was. He always came wanting to know how he could help or he would just stand there and sort of add weight to a conversation with someone else. He always would laugh and smile, if not by directly bringing light into the circle, he would mumble under his breath in a funny way 'Radishes, I remember them radishes" as he needed to connect the light of it all. He was the guy who stuck by our side as we started our own personal journey into the unknown on the streets with Lovebags. For he taught all of us to love a crackhead, which honestly is what our mother tells us NOT to do. Tony was that guy. We loved him so much. He loved us all just as well. I know he shines down on us and will continue to be carried in many hearts as we live on.

Although Tony is no longer with us in body, I certainly can feel him in spirit. He is finally free of what kept him enslaved in his darkness for so many years. If Lovebags did not exist, Tony would have never made it as far along his path with such love and light in is heart. Without Lovebags, Tony's passing would have gone unnoticed. Thanks to this group of people Tony left with peace in his heart and will be remembered. I feel so blessed to have been friends with him and to cry for the loss of his life. For I know he changed me and my ways of thinking. I will miss you crackhead Tony.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spaghetti's Gal

Spaghetti's Gal

One evening as the sun was setting on Miami beach I was with some people from out of town. As I walked toward the two woman with whom I was meeting near the water, they were lying on a towel in the sand and sun, another woman stood between them. I was confused at first because the woman was not with them but knew me and I did not recognize her until she started talking. I was beyond shock when I realized who she was. Then I began to remember all the times we would fall into each others lives.

I met her the first night we hit the streets in 2008. She was on a park bench, she had no teeth because someone punched them out. That someone was the father of her children. She was homeless and her kids were taken away from her... I watched her float in and out of the horrors of Homelessness for years. When I saw her on the beach in Miami she was a different woman. She had a whole new set of teeth, her hair looked different, she gained weight, was happy, healthy, and said she had a job, showed me her fancy new phone and had her family back, and a house. Best... and most incredible of all... she had her kids back. DCF gave her her kids back. She introduced me as 'The Angel' who helped her get it all together again. I didn't do anything. It was just our 'weekly lovin at Food Not Bombs', she claims we saved her.

THAT is what Food Not Bombs is about for us. Pure Free Love.

Food Not Bombs Hollywood hit the pavement in the Spring of 2008. Like any good business venture, we needed to begin by marketing ourselves. One of our volunteers made labels that read "bring this container back to 419 US1 Friday from 6-8 and we will fill it with Free Food, Please Recycle". We filled plastic containers with the best Vegan food we could find or make, asking local Vegan chefs and raw food junkies to donate their talents. A container of Sweet Pete's Chocolate Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Vegan Mousse sat center table for our first several months of operation. For our first night out we set up the table, which had to be extended due to the amount of food donated. Several people served the food and several volunteers walked the neighborhood befriending and feeding people sitting on the park benches, under trees, and on steps hidden in the shade. We even had a bike and skateboard team for longer distances.

In front of Publix at the Circle Bus stop that first night there were several people we befriended and told about our new exchange, you bring the container, we will feed you for free. Two woman sat next to each other on the bench. My buddy and I were standing opposite these woman facing them and giving them food. I will call her 'Lisa' because that is what she calls me.

Lisa was sitting on the bus stop bench wearing cut off jeans and a tattered striped tank top. Her hair was pulled back and wild wisps were flying everywhere. It was hard to tell how old she was. By looking at her you could say she was in her late thirties, looking in her eyes you would flip between twenty and fifty, and as soon as she opened her mouth she was in her teens. She smiled so happy and spoke so young and fresh. Her positivity was a bit blinding as her appearance told a different story.

She was sitting on the green bench with her sister, not sure if by blood. She was more concerned about what we were doing than about her own self. Immediately when we handed her the food she questioned if someone else may need it more than her. She blessed us and thanked us over and over again giving us praise for doing this for the people who really needed it... not seeing herself as one of those people, but she was hungry so she appreciated it. As she spoke her open mouth showed huge gaps and holes where a man, possibly the father of her children, had punched out her teeth. Her wide eyes and open face played on a positive note as she told us how DCF had taken her children and she just needed to get back on her feet in order to see them again.

I will never forget that first meeting with Lisa. Her incredible positive attitude, which could have simply been a result of too many drugs, too much abuse, and an inability to cope - she somehow simply 'switched her on button off' as my grandma would say. She aimed her concern in the direction of others, whether taking care of them or making sure their needs were met before her own. She didn't have a home, a job, or really an idea as to where she was going. We gave her the food and told her to come by when she could. I can remember the first few times we let her 'shop' in our closet or the many times I would see her and remind her that we cared.

At that time, in the beginning, Food Not Bombs was in the parking lot of a small Neighborhood Woman's Health Center. As Outreach Coordinator of the Center, they gave me a small room in the back of the office which we turned into a Clothes Closet for our Homeless friends. Lisa would come to the closet and we would dress her. Several times fitting her for a job interview, but most times giving her what she needed most, love. When she would not come to us, I would stumble randomly upon her while crossing the street in the oddest of places. She began calling me her 'Angel' and told others on the street about me. Mostly it was my ability to appear in her life when she was at her worst. I would just be riding my bike, and look up and she was there. Which for her was the most incredible thing.

She taught me a lot over the years. I watched her struggle in and out of all the little nuances of Homelessness. I found out where she lived, in which abandoned building or darkened apartment block and I began to leave her food and medicine when she was sick. I found out who she hung with and would always make sure I asked them about her when she would go missing.... she knew I would always ask for her, so she felt she needed to come see me. Just one stranger who shows up randomly for little glimpses of time... that is all some people need to pull themselves together again.

I took this picture of Lisa as she walked away with her boyfriend Spaghetti and friend Mike down the alleyway. The green bag over the shoulder is filled with food and clothes we gifted upon them. This was one of the last times I saw Lisa. I remember because I use to think 'that may be the last time I will see her'... She was elated because Spaghetti was out of jail, they were working on a new life and she felt she was on the path to getting her kids back. She was right. I remember I received a phone call from her about six months after I took this picture. She told me she was in a house with a woman in Coral Springs who was 'A Hippie' and 'all into healing and stuff, eats all vegetables (like you)'... I felt the last time I spoke to her that she was in fact on the right path. 

Lisa taught me great lessons along the way. She proves what patience, tolerance, and years worth of consistency can do for a person. Almost four years later... I see she is a true example of why we need to continue doing what we do for Food Not Bombs and the people in between. To be given the right to love the people on the street who are lost in between and have no one else. We, the People, can do this for each other. The Law Enforcement and City Officials should not deter this sort of community support and love.

For we, the people of EAO, see and feel the results.
Jackie and Murphy

Anyone who dedicates their life to service knows about the miraculous stories and hearts one can find hidden in the shadows. The first time I saw Jackie I was shocked, as most people are. I am not exactly sure what happened to her or what her story is, but physically she is bent at a 90 degree angle from her waist. Not many people see her at that angle, most people see her on her bike, which she has set up so her crooked frame rests precariously, but upright enough for her to be mobile and in control.

The first time I saw her my whole world stopped and my eyes and energy focused 100% on her. She looked like an illustration from a twisted book I know and she became imprinted in my mind. Over time I started to see her more regularly, which led me to believe it was only a matter of time before she would be at my table for dinner. She eventually began to covet us and would stay across the street and look at us, but never come to our table. I started to ask around and I found out her name was Jackie.

One night, it was a Tuesday night, I was driving up US1 on my way to Lovebags in Ft. Lauderdale in a borrowed Wrangler and I passed Jackie on her bike. I pulled into a parking lot and waited for her. When she passed I said "Jackie? Are you hungry?", which she stopped and stared at me with complete confusion. Jackie: "How did you know my name?" Me: "I see you on Friday nights, I am the Soup Lady, do you want some soup?" She was very frightened and about to take off when my dog Murphy popped her head out of the Jeep. Jackie dropped her bike leaning over and squealed to grab Murphy. She was so excited and intrigued by my dogs that she forgot to be afraid of me and turned into a small child accepting my food... which she in turn fed to Murphy by the bowl full.

After that chance meeting Jackie started coming around to our Friday night dinners. At first it was for Murphy and she did not want our food until everyone else ate, then she started coming prepared with bowl ready to have her special bowl of soup. She would eat three to five plates of pasta... which actually was being fed to an over zealous Murphy who for the first time in her blind/deaf elderly life found a true friend. Murphy loved everyone all the time. But one thing Murphy was not accustomed to, one thing she did not have the patience for from anyone, was squeezing and cuddling. She just wasn't that dog. That dog was Rufus. Murphy was an girl of action and constant movement without constraint unless she was sleeping. For some reason, Jackie and Murphy switched a switch in each other. Jackie could squeeze Murphy to her content and Murphy just went limp without ever a fight. Jackie would turn into a joyful childlike being that we all grew to love and look forward to.

When Jackie would come to our table it was like a magic bubble would protect us all. She would come with hesitation and then be confident. She became a good friend and always remembered little things about our lives. She would ask how things were going and you knew we were on her mind... as she always was on ours. If she did not come to dinner, we asked about her. If one of us were not there, she asked about them. Over the years I knew where she stayed and I would often drop things off if she needed them. We knew the circles of friends and would ask for her as she would relay messages through them.

Jackie and Murphy, how they found each other and how they helped each other through transitions of life... this is a true testimony of what Earth Angel Outreach is all about.

Murphy passed in July of 2010 at the old age of 16.

Jackie was last seen on her bike riding through Hollywood Young Circle April 30, 2012

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Food Not Bombs Hollywood

A seed was planted in my mind in the winter of 2007 by my good friend and roommate at the time, James, who realized my love for cooking and feeding people. "We should start a Food Not Bombs." I looked at him and questioned exactly what he meant by the word "We". I remember we were in our very white kitchen and I was making soup, he was getting ready to eat it. He handed me a book 'Food Not Bombs' and I read it that night. The concept of the movement inspired me, the idea that an incredible amount of food is thrown away everyday, food that could feed the thousands of hungry people who are struggling just to survive, this concept fueled my passion. I was excited to begin the process... my only hesitations were that I had no license, no car, no money, no job and really no means to provide for anyone other than myself and my two little dogs. James had a broken car and a broken bike and couldn't really volunteer any free time since he worked full time, but his heart was always in the right place. "We" agreed we would think about it...

About a week later I found a perfectly fine crockpot sitting ontop someones trash barrel, and then a big cooking pot came my way. James and I discussed how things were lining up for his FNB idea. So I started putting the word out to everyone I knew (which wasn't a big group since I just moved to South Florida). At the time I was volunteering at The South Florida Womans Health Center in Hollywood Florida. I was the Outreach Coordinator and spent a good amount of my time with my partner 'Doula D', finding mostly women and children on the street who needed help. We started a clothes closet in the back of our center and begin planning for our feeding in the parking lot of the building. Several volunteers came to our meetings, mostly Vegans, only One person came to all, OneT. We spent months sitting and planning. We wanted our FNB to be organized, easy, 100% environmentally friendly, and as fun and free as possible. We hesitated for weeks, afraid no one would come and unsure how exactly to start. Until one day the Leader from Lovebags, Ft. Lauderdale, came to one of our meetings and said "Just Start.". . . so the next week we did.

The local Hollywood Publix started donating their trash from one day a week, usually Wednesdays, which began to amount to over six cases!! Boxes of fruits and veggies that would have little cuts and bruises, perfectly good food, but not worthy of purchase to most Americans. Every day, in Every Food Store across America, Hundreds and Thousands of Good, Edible, Produce (among all other food items) are Thrown Away. The local Starbucks in Hollywood started donating their leftover baked goods from the very beginning by collecting and saving it for us to pick up once a week. Other local businesses participated over the years as well as many concerned community members by donating boxes of Pasta, Sauce, Bread, Produce, and every now and again a random drive by will stop and hand us a twenty dollar bill, asking us to continue the good service, then they hop in the car and drive away.

The brilliant idea of James that "We" had to start this Food Not Bombs was quite possibly one of his best ideas yet. This beautiful organization of people has lasted for years without fail. Every Friday night since the day "We" began, "We" have been there. Whether it a Holiday, including Christmas, Christmas Eve, Fourth of July, New Years, Halloween, Birthdays... or a day when the weather was pouring and the wind blowing... "We" have been there to feed and love our friends. The only day "We" missed was New Years Eve 2011... however 'our guys' decided, as we served them Christmas dinner, that "We" deserved to all have a Friday off for once!! The following Friday things picked up where they left off and everyone wanted to hear how the night off was.

Food Not Bombs Hollywood is not just a Movement. It is a Stand. By working together within a small organization and holding hands with others throughout the community "We" have been able to bridge gaps in the lives of many people who otherwise would have been lost. Friends have been made, Trust has been given, Tears, Laughter, and Love shared. As the System continues to break down and crumble around us, Threatening to shut down what is needed most, Food Not Bombs Hollywood has Stood Strong and Stayed despite all odds. By using what otherwise was thrown out and unwanted, an underground world of support has been constructed for the people drifting on US1 in Hollywood.

Every Friday 6-8pm at 419 US1, Hollywood, Florida... if you can't see the table, it means that we are in The Circle Park having a 'Picnic'... As long as we stay together and be a family eating 'Picnic Style', then this Free Feeding isn't as much of a problem with the Law.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Beginning of EAO

Food Not Bombs!!

The idea of Earth Angel Outreach, EAO, began in the spring of 2008 after volunteering as the Outreach Coordinator at The South Florida Women's Health Center in Hollywood, Florida. Partnered up with 'Doula D', we drove around Hollywood in her grandma's old rusty blue 'Hoopty' singing 'Earth Angel' (by the Penguins) while handing out homemade cooked Vegan food, donated clothing or supplies, and assisting homeless men and women with their needs. We would bring the women and children into our facility and help them with services and provide for them any way we could. Our work there spanned from helping pregnant teens and young mothers on the street, assisting parents with children, obtaining services for the ill, distributing food and clothing to homeless friends, educating the community about the environment and nutrition, hosting childrens events and classes, and direct outreach in the community.

One little boy from the Bahamas, named Mike, was the glue that made it all stick together. Saving the life of this little 18 month old and enduring three open heart surgeries in 36 hours, Mike found himself surrounded and cared for by a team of Angels who supported him for several months from the childrens ICU back home. The bond of friendship between the ladies solidified the need to help more children in need.

At the Woman's Center, the impacts of poverty on the people in our neighborhood became apparent in the large population of homeless on our streets. We started the local chapter of  FNB Hollywood and joined Lovebags in Ft. Lauderdale in order to help more people in need. We were feeding many people and realizing the need for organization in order to obtain more supplies and materials for our street outreach.


It was during the Spring of 2008 that EAO attended the first CSEC training seminar at Kristi House in Miami, conducted by Sandy Skelaney of Project GOLD.  Because of the work EAO was doing on the streets, it was suggested the volunteers attend this training to learn about a new demographic many were unaware of. That was the first time our eyes were open to the problem of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking in America.

Project GOLD Outreach

Several months after the training, while celebrating Lovebags second year on the streets, we met a victim of Human Trafficking late one night in front of the downtown Ft. lauderdale library. Her name was Leviathan. A woman who had been kidnapped as a child and forced into over 20 years of slavery, now she was drifting on the streets from city to city. Meeting this young woman taught us how unprepared our system was for this new species of human being. It was because of our experience with this woman, which spanned for almost 6 months after a volunteer took her into her home, that the idea to bring awareness, advocacy, and the desperate need for resources, safe housing with proper assistance which catered to the needs of this very sensitive group of victims. 

Late Night Outreach
Earth Angel Outreach attended seminars, summits, and trainings in the field of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children since 2008, met hero Linda Smith of Shared Hope International, completed U.S. Justice Dept. CSEC training with Rachel Lloyd of GEMS , Coordinated Outreach with Sandy Skelaney of Project GOLD, The Broward County Human Trafficking Coalition and The Miami CSEC Working Group. EAO also teamed up with Child Advocacy Centers which cater to the needs of homeless and at risk youth, LGBTQ youth and runaways by providing direct outreach, donations of food, clothing, or support through various EAO Projects.

Making Friends
The Mission to help children is in the hearts of all EAO volunteers whether Domestic or Abroad. Through The La La Land Projects, Missionaries have been funded to follow their dreams helping children in Haiti, China, Mexico, and Peru, children in orphanages or in need of supplies and materials for healthy living and proper education. Earth Angel Outreach became Incorporated in the Summer of 2009 before embarking on the first of the La La Land Projects, called 'The Lla Lla Land Project' which took place in a small mountain village of Llalla in Cusco, Peru. By joining a restauraunt owner and his dream to help a small impovershed community build a school for the young children. EAO helped to raise needed funds, collect supplies and materials from South Florida communities and personally deliver the items to the children of the village. By collecting donations, conducting fundraisers and bridging communities, Earth Angel Outreach and the volunteers who help the children bring awareness and advocacy to children in need across the globe by holding hands and reaching out together.

Collaboration is the key ingredient to the Earth Angel Outreach Projects. Whether Feeding on the Streets or in Youth Centers, Creating Art, Music, or Working on out of the box solutions for Advocacy and Awareness, EAO works together as a team in which all involved are equal. Working with the Community, Youth, Volunteers and other Organizations allows for more understanding and more hope to be spread.