Monday, October 24, 2011
Dunwoody resident Anthony Delgado feeds the hungry seven days a week.
In observance of Food Day, I re-offer this piece on Antony Delgado who I had the pleasure of meeting again last week.
Written by Tyler Goforth for the Dunwoody Neighbor
When Dunwoody resident Anthony Delgado parks his rusted Dodge Prospector van in downtown Atlanta the city’s homeless know what to expect. They form a single file line behind the van while Delgado unloads boxes of sliced cake and fresh fruit to give away.
“It helps us out so much,” said Mitzi Hines, who said she has lived on Atlanta’s streets with her husband for two years, going through the line on a Saturday morning in Hurt Park near Georgia State University. Behind her in line was Kurt Jones. “He’s a good guy, a good guy,” he said of Delgado.
Every day since last September, Delgado leaves his Dunwoody apartment around 5 a.m. and visits metro Atlanta Kroger and Fresh Market grocery stores. He collects the food that is about to be thrown away, but is still fit for human consumption, and takes it to his apartment. There the 52-year-old cuts the cakes and puts the slices into plastic containers. Then he loads everything back into the van and takes it downtown.
“People say, ‘A piece of cake and some fruit? What’s that going to do for somebody?’ When we pull up in the van watch the people. They love what they’re getting,” Delgado said. “They say, ‘Thank you and God bless you.’ Half the people you meet every day don’t say that.”
Delgado does it all with no financial assistance and little volunteer help. The operation is called My Brother’s Keeper Reaching Out Inc. The idea came from Delgado’s friend and partner Quan Fogle — though recent sickness and work requirements have left Ms. Fogle unable to devote as much time to the project as Delgado.
The operation costs him about $2,000 a month. Delgado said he had gone through his life savings to fund the project. To support himself, Delgado works as a subcontractor for Comcast. With all donated food his biggest expense is the gas to make his collections. Delgado said he sometimes fuels up three times a day. “It’s been really rough,” he said. “This van doesn’t get the best gas mileage.” However, he is not just helping the homeless because he feels sorry for them. He knows what they are going through — six years ago he was among Atlanta’s homeless. The Massachusetts native moved to Atlanta to live with his cousin. After a falling out he moved out but had nowhere else to go.
Delgado said he lived on the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets in downtown for several weeks. A Marine Corps veteran, Delgado was able to turn his life around through assistance programs from the VA Hospital in Decatur. “I lived on the street for a long time,” he said. “I can relate to those people; I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. All these people want is someone to love them.”
Delgado travels downtown seven days a week. He said he feeds between 150 and 300 people a day. After the line is gone downtown, the rest of the food is donated to homeless shelters and rehab centers around the city, such as Mary Hall Freedom House, Atlanta Baptist Rescue Mission and the Atlanta Union Mission. Pastor Jerry Myers of St. Mark Early Church of God in Christ in Atlanta called Delgado an “inspiration to us all.”
Myers, a Lithonia resident, and his congregation occasionally assist Delgado with his mission. “It’s good to see someone take their personal time and resources to give food and hope to people who thought all hope was lost,” Myers said.