Anthony Delgado, founder of I Care America, is on a mission to help support the homeless and the Hebrew Order of David is lending a hand.
I Care America, formerly known as I Care Atlanta, is a nonprofit devoted to ending homelessness by reaching out to the working poor and homeless men, women, and children in metro Atlanta and surrounding communities. Delgado says his group partners with several local police departments and businesses. Retail stores donate food and money, and police direct people in need to Delgado so he can help find them shelter or other resources.
“The way it has been, this pandemic is so tight for us, but we seem to manage to make our payments. We are struggling right now. We are feeding so many people. We give out and G-d fills us back up.”
Delgado says he has seen a significantly higher demand for food and shelter since the pandemic hit. He says many people do not have unemployment checks and he worries that when rent forgiveness ends, there will be an uptick in homelessness. He says he feeds about 400 people in one day.
The organization also has a GED training center, financial planning center, and during the holiday season they give out brand new toys to dozens of children, as well as holding food drives. When asked what ordinary people can do to help the homeless, Delgado advises not to give money directly to them but to give them food or talk with them over a cup of coffee. He also recommends telling people to call their local United Way for assistance getting the resources they need.
Delgado’s story is one of inspiration, intervention, and immersion as he was once living on the streets himself and addicted to crack.
“I was dropped off at a train station in Doraville after an argument with my cousin. That is when my journey as a drug-addicted homeless person began. I did a lot of bad l things. Crack was my drug of choice and I panhandled on the streets of Atlanta to feed my habit. I did not know at the time that years later I would have my own charity across the street from the very train station where it all started. I look at the station today and think, ‘G-d has a sense of humor.’”
The turning point for Delgado came when he was sitting at a Greyhound bus station in the winter and had just smoked some crack, apparently having hit a new rock bottom.
Delgado found his way to the VA hospital and eventually gained employment. After attending a church service about obedience, Delgado took bags of bread and pastries to the spot where he used to sleep on the streets. It was very emotional, he said. “I saw the same people after a year, the same people I slept next to.” Within 45 minutes all the bread and pastries were gone. As I was driving back, I started crying and said, “Thank you, Father G-d, I found my purpose in life.”
He continued, “When I was homeless, I saw the best and worst in people. I was pushed, kicked, and spit on by some. But there were others who would give rides, pay for a hotel, or buy sandwiches. I warn that people should also be cautious about safety when offering rides and things like that. And it is not just people on the streets who need help. If you can help your neighbor or help somebody you know that does not have anything, it is reasonable to go buy them food. It is not going to really break you.”
Jody Pollack, executive director of the Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival, explained how the Hebrew Order of David connected with Delgado on his mission.
“As the initial planning was coming together for the 2015 Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival, our team met with the Dunwoody Police Department and asked if they had a charity that they supported. They then introduced us to Anthony Delgado. Our partnership with Anthony and I Care Atlanta, now known as I Care America, included renting his refrigerated truck from time to time as well as donating extra produce, canned goods, spices, and financial donations.”
“We all need to help each other. We are in a bad state right now. We do not know what’s happening one day to the next,” Delgado said. “Open your heart. Help your neighbor. Do not be selfish. The me, me, me attitude is not going to get us anywhere. It is just not.”
To contribute, visit www.icareatlanta.org or use Zelle/Cash App; For more information, call 678-524-3316.
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