The Elisha Project is a powerful outreach program in Providence, RI. The Elisha Project, also known as EP, is a non-profit organization that provides lunches to the less fortunate and homeless. Volunteers decorate brown lunch bags, make sandwiches, pack lunches, and hand out the lunches at an outdoor location. Unlike soup kitchens, EP takes the food onto the streets and to the people.
I had the pleasure of volunteering for this program with the youth group at my church, and it was an amazing experience. After we prepared the lunches, we traveled to an outdoor location. The corner we were stationed at is right across from the only homeless shelter in Providence. As the people came over, we gave them a lunch, which included a sandwich, apple, chips, and a water bottle. You hand the food to the person and say,”God bless you.” If they ask for more than one, you give them as many as they want. Some of these people haven’t eaten in days.
The people were very grateful, but also ashamed. Sometimes, a person would make an excuse as to why they needed another lunch because they were too embarrassed to admit their need. One man asked if he could have another lunch because his friend was sick in the homeless shelter, and he needed to bring one back. My mother asked a woman if she wanted a lunch and she accepted it. My mom noticed that she already had three lunches in her bag. Another woman said that she hadn’t eaten in four days and was wondering if she could have another. It felt amazing when I gave her the bagged lunch. I ended her hunger….for a little while.
I enjoyed helping out at the Elisha Project, but at some instances it was scary. At one point, I forgot to give a man a bottle of water. He had already started to walk away, so I chased after him. I went to give him the water and many of the homeless and less fortunate swarmed around me. I know they are ordinary people, but I wasn’t used to anything like that. It threw me off guard. Some of the people that talked to me seemed truly extraordinary. I am marveled at how some many of these people have persevered through very trying times.
The Elisha Project has expanded from one family to over 1,790 families. It all started because one man refused to do nothing, and that one man has made a big difference. Over 8,800 meals have been made and each receiver of the meals has been blessed.