Save Our Village Feeds Baltimore's Homeless and Underserved
Alisa Hyman | 3/2/2018, 6 a.m.
It all started with a question.
Baltimore native Antoinette Rucker has volunteered with organizations committed to feeding the homeless for years. After volunteering one Thanksgiving, she noticed all the people, especially the children and young adults who were standing in line for a Thanksgiving meal.
“People are in the giving spirit around the holidays,” Rucker recalled. “But the need extends beyond Christmas. What about the rest of the year?”
In April 2017, Rucker answered her own question by creating Save Our Village Baltimore, a grassroots organization formed to meet the needs of Baltimore’s homeless by providing them with hot food, clothes and care packages filled with toiletries and other essential items.
“I wanted to create an outlet for people who looked for year-round opportunities to contribute to the communities in which we live by lending a helping hand to Baltimore’s homeless and underprivileged,” Rucker explained.
There are organizations in Baltimore that feed the homeless, but Rucker wanted to offer something other than cold sandwiches in brown paper bags, so every weekend, she cooks hot meals on a small propane grill. The menu usually consists of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and French toast, but Rucker has also distributed soup, chili, and other hot, filling meals. Rucker and her volunteers serve, on average, 80 people each weekend, and to date, Save Our Village Baltimore has passed out over 3,000 meals and 400 care packages.
“I created Save Our Village because it breaks my heart to see young adults and women with children begging for change,” Rucker said. “I can’t imagine what it feels like to experience the ache of hunger every single day.”
Rucker believes that the need for hot food and toiletries is so great that she continues to go out into the community every weekend despite the fact that she is not yet an official non-profit organization.
“Not being an official non-profit prohibits me from eligibility for grants and donations from large markets and retail stores. I’m currently working through the paperwork and will soon become an official non-profit organization, but until then, there are people in my city that are hungry and need help, so I am willing to do whatever I can to meet their needs, even if it means spending my own money to buy food and supplies,” Rucker said.
Despite the expense, Rucker feels a deep sense of obligation for the people she meets each weekend.
“One Saturday morning,” she recalled, “One young man told me that I was cooking the first meal he’d had in three days. He knew if he could just make it to Saturday, I’d be there and he could count on a hot meal and some toiletries. Every weekend, people are waiting for me and depending on me, so every weekend, I show up for them.”
Save Our Village has hosted events designed to encourage people to come out and donate their time and resources to benefit a part of the population that most people overlook. For Thanksgiving, in addition to serving food and passing out supplies, a local barber was on hand providing free haircuts.