Patricia Thompson had a deep desire and need to give back to the community. Her clarity of what action to take began in November 2016 through prayer to discover her path. One day during her lunch break at work, she hit the streets of Downtown Memphis to get contacts and to learn more about those organizations helping the homeless community. “One contact led to another contact and someone said to check with the church,” she said, referring to St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, which has a homeless meal ministry. “There is a great need in the Memphis community for the homeless and less fortunate. My vision was to provide a sandwich, granola bar, and bottled water. I reached out to the church and they said they were already doing everything but the sandwich! So that’s how it all started.”
One Mouth at a Time jumped in to offer sandwiches and to pack the bags in early 2017 and hasn’t looked back. The organization gives back to help St. Mary’s with its ministry by packing lunches once a month, which serves approximately 125 individuals on that particular Saturday. Every one of those individuals matters, a tenet that’s reflected in a name that is significant to the organization’s mission. “I was on a flight and asked the flight attendant for a napkin and a pen as I thought about what name to give this outreach ministry,” Patricia recalled. “I took about two or three minutes and prayed. I put pen to paper and One Mouth at a Time came out. My struggle was that so many people have a need. How can we really make an impact? But you literally take it one mouth at a time.”
Making sandwiches and packing sack lunches for the homeless community is a simple yet effective way to help feed those in need while showing compassion. In addition to sandwiches, One Mouth at a Time organizes and participates in barbecue events in the park, partners with schools so students can complete community service hours, conducts clothing drives and more. The organization has partnered with businesses and student groups for projects such as creating sleeping mats that provide a little extra warmth at night. “One thing we do at least twice per year is random acts of kindness where, for example, if it’s in the summer, we may go to a park and hand out bottled water. I’ve seen so many people treat those who are less fortunate like a number. My passion and goal are to treat them special and with respect.”
One Mouth at a Time is blessed with a volunteer bank it relies on when the need for staff events arises. It is always open to more individuals, as well as donations that keep the sandwiches coming. Patricia self-funded over half of the startup costs for the nonprofit during the first year. However, she notes that the success of the organization would not have been possible without the ongoing support of the board members who work tirelessly, along with volunteers and friends who provide monetary, clothing and food donations. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can find more information by searching One Mouth at a Time on Facebook. “The success we’ve had as a start-up nonprofit has been amazing! We’ve touched thousands in a very small window of time,” Patricia said. “We’re a growing organization. We don’t have support like big nonprofits, but we have made a huge impact.”
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