Before COVID-19, the Homies Empowerment Program, a grassroots, youth and community organization located in East Oakland, operated as an independent after school program.
More than a year ago, the program started a storefront and provided books and clothes for their East Bay neighborhood.
Every Tuesday, the organization creates a large storefront called the FREEdom store, open for all from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
During the pandemic, the FREEdom store saw the need for food was higher than they anticipated. Now they’ve taken up a new mission to gather as many donations, food and toiletries as they can and get them to the Latin and Black communities that have been impacted by COVID-19. Throughout the week, volunteers and community organizations come together to gather canned goods, fresh vegetables and personal hygiene products to serve over a thousand of people a week.
Those are some crazy high numbers. Fortunately there is no shortage of help; “It takes a barrio and it takes a community to come together to offer what we have here at the FREEdom store,” said Rubi Pelayo, director of operations at the FREEdom Store. “We have volunteers from all over who are offering their time to get this done.” And the volunteers at the FREEdom Store believe in standing in solidarity with their community and to provide the help they need at this difficult time.
“We don’t believe in charity, we believe in solidarity,” Inventory coordinator of Homies Empowerment Program, Rogelio X, says. “To give back to the community any way you can, even if It five minutes or 50 cents. It doesn’t matter. Trying to find ways to contribute to the community because we are all in this together.”
How true that is; when a community comes together there is so much more than can be done. You can find out more about this program and their efforts to help their community in your Good News Story of the Day here.
They have also set up a GoFundMe for donations from those out of their area which has hit 17,000 of its 27,000 dollar goal.
Story and Image from ABC7 News