ATLANTA — While most people are heeding the warnings to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak worldwide, there are people who have no choice but to continue their lives, mostly, as normal.
Those include our public safety personnel, medical professionals and many others.
There may be a group, however, that doesn’t immediately come to mind as it relates to this outbreak and how they’re affected: the homeless community.
Grammy Award-winning artist Lecrae joined Loved Beyond Walls to make a difference throughout downtown Atlanta Thursday, to assemble and distribute hand sanitizing stations for the homeless.
Lecrae says he’s known Terence Lester, executive director of Love Beyond Walls, for years.
The Love Beyond Walls mission is to “restore dignity to the homeless and poor by providing a voice, visibility, shelter, community, and grooming and support services to achieve self-sufficiency.”
Lester and Lecrae connected after the COVID-19 outbreak via phone to discuss ideas of how to serve the underserved in our area.
“When the pandemic hit, I thought, ‘What is the homeless community doing about these warnings?’” Lecrae told Channel 2.
Terrance told Lecrae he wanted to put portable sinks around the city. He had one sink and wanted 10. Lecrae said he wanted 15.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday, they met to assemble the sinks and then put them downtown.
“We spent a good amount of time putting them around Hurt Park,” Lecrae said, adding that the group took food as well, assuming some of the people would want a nice meal. Sandwiches, drinks and “like a gazillion cheeseburgers” were handed out to people in the area.
The portable hand-washing stations hold 5 gallons of water and have a soap dispenser full of soap connected to them. The soap dispensers and water can be refilled, and the stations can be possibly relocated at a later date.
Aside from providing the tools to stay healthy, Lecrae said he was able to provide information that some people were interested to learn.
He said most people in the Hurt Park area had an idea of what was going on, especially since stores are mostly closed by now, but many of them were asking questions about the specifics.
Lecrae, 40, is a Houston, Texas, native but after years in Atlanta, sees it as a place where it’s easy to make an impact.
“It’s a major city and in a major city, like this, it speaks very loud. The love is loud, appreciation is loud, but the problems are loud as well,” Lecrae said. “The city has shown me so much love, so I wanted to be sure to show it back.”
With the platform to speak to the community, we asked the artist what his message would be, specifically, to young people, in this time of uncertainty and change.
“There are three ways to tap in when major issues arise in society. One is publicity – making your voice known and speaking out, whether it’s on social media or otherwise. Two is policies – making sure you’re informed and involved in laws that benefit us. Three is productivity – making sure you’re productive, and for some of us, right now, that means staying home,” Lecrae said.
He added that we need everybody to play their part.
He said he sees this as an opportunity for us to slow down.
“This is a good opportunity to slow down -- appreciate family and friends and find ways to slow down and lean in,” he said.
As for life at home for the artist, he said for his three children, so far it just feels like one long summer with amazing teachers, so that’s a plus.