Tony Simmons is behind that grill. (Bill Hughes)
I organized the Word on the Street 2nd Annual BBQ for the Homeless again this year. We had more than 700 homeless people join in the fun on July 26. The BBQ was held inside Saint Vincent De Paul Park.
When I was homeless, I slept on a bench there about seven years ago.
An army of volunteers came with Assistant Pastor Fred Hensley and his wife Sherry of Daybreak Christian Assembly church in Towson, Maryland.
“We want to let you know that we had a great time helping you all. We are so blessed that we were able to help. We talked about it in church this morning I was completely overwhelmed with emotion on Saturday. Seeing all the people almost brought tears to my eyes,” Rev. Hensley and his wife Sherry said in a statement. “I had to turn away and get myself together. The problem of poverty is only getting worse. It makes Fred and I realize how blessed we are. Homelessness can happen to any of us. Many people do not understand homelessness because they don’t take the time to see it firsthand or hear their stories. Many homeless people have jobs but cannot afford housing. We were so proud and happy to serve.”
One thing new this year was a member of City Council taking part. Thank you again Councilman Bill Henry for showing up and donating! Gabby Knighton also was there from the Mayor’s Office of Human Services.
Duane “Shorty” Davis brought his 55-gallon drum grill and ran the grill section again this year. He also was involved in the planning and execution of the event as well as contributed numerous donations. Davis had his “toilet art protest exhibit” outside the park for viewing.
“I volunteered because I wanted to become more involved with the homeless of Baltimore City outside HCH. I didn’t even think twice about donating my time and product to the picnic because that is what we are here to do. Take care of one another no questions asked,” said Amy F. Czak-Bowman, Disability Assistance Outreach Specialist (SOAR Program) at Health Care for the Homeless.
Miss Liza with Belvedere Housing said this about the event: “I enjoyed myself to be able to do something as small as have a cookout to bring joy to adults and see children in their comfort zone and not judge. Everyone was so appreciative and patient. The line was never ending.”
WLOY Loyola Radio was a big part of the BBQ festivities. They brought the big grill and countless donations. DJ “Chris Furino” cranked out the tunes for the dancing crowd.
Tony Simmons (Word on the Street) assembled his crew of homeless men again this year. Tony and his crew were all hands on deck doing whatever was needed. They set the party up, grilled, served food and cleaned up.
The Word on the Street staff was everywhere; organizing, planning, setting up, serving, grilling, doing outreach, covering the event and cleaning up. Word on the Street would like to thank everyone who volunteered or donated to make 700 homeless people smile.
Plans are underway to make next year’s BBQ bigger and better!