|Left to right: Elizabeth Omilami, head of Hosea Feed|
the Hungry, Willie Fowler, Tamara Fowler, and Carol Fowler.
Image credit: Jonathan Phillips/Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Willie and Carol Fowler had a problem. Their daughter, Tamara, whose wedding was to take place in 40 days, announced that the wedding was off. They had reserved a fancy venue called Villa Christina in Atlanta for the reception. The food and entertainment for the wedding reception had already been ordered and paid for. What to do?
Carol was about to cancel the venue the morning after her daughter's announcement, but Willie told her he had prayed about the situation all night. He said he was directed to donate the reception to a charity called Hosea Feed the Hungry for homeless people in Atlanta, Georgia. That's how the first annual Fowler Family Celebration of Love was born.
The event was held on Sunday, September 15, for 200 homeless women, children, and families, who were transported to the venue in buses. Appetizers were served outdoors, where children had some space to run and play, then the event moved indoors, where the kids were taken to a special room for food (chicken fingers, fries, fresh fruit and chocolate chip cookies) and fun activities, such as face-painting, juggling, and clowns. The adults feasted on salmon or chicken and listened to a motivational speaker.
Elizabeth Omilami, head of Hosea Feed the Hungry, mentioned that the event was a real learning experience for the children, who learned something about manners at a formal event. When the hors d'oeuvres were passed around at the beginning of the event, the kids were wondering whether they were being offered the whole plate, or just one. That comment made me smile, because I know that kids in depressed economic circumstances rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to learn the social niceties. I remember taking some second-grade students to a restaurant one year. The place we took them wasn't fancy at all, but there were kids who had never eaten in a restaurant before in their lives.
Quilsa Foster, of Hosea Feed the Hungry, explained the most amazing thing about the event. "All the plates were empty and there wasn't any leftover food at all," she said. "It was an eye-opening experience. You go to weddings sometimes and you see a lot of people really waste food. We take so many things for granted. These clients or guests, as we call them, they don't."
Carol Fowler had this to day to everyone. "It's just that wonderful, rewarding feeling. If we could just inspire one youth in that crowd to rise above the situation today and be a very responsible member of society tomorrow, that would be extremely rewarding.
"If you have cancelled an event, do not walk away," she continued. "Pick up the phone and call your favorite charity and offer it to them. We're regular, working people and anybody can do this. This is not star stuff."
The Fowlers plan to host another event for the homeless next year and make it an annual affair. What a gift of love! :-)