Dr. Mary C. McDonald
When you look at the big picture of poverty, homelessness, and under-education in this country, or here in Memphis, it appears rather bleak. However, when you focus on the individual efforts being made to combat those societal ills that are bending the cycle of poverty to the breaking point, from where I sit, the big picture is looking better all the time.
Where I sit is as a host of the radio talk show “Seize the Day” on KWAM 990. It has been an eye-opening privilege to hear the guests on the show share their stories of hope and inspiration, stories of the difference that one person with a vision and tenacity can make in the lives of people who have no hope, no way out of life in a downward spiral. Memphis has many of those inspirational people, those social entrepreneurs, each doing his or her part to lift up Memphis, one idea at a time, one person at a time. One such inspirational person is Larry Hunter.
Larry Hunter, or Pastor Larry as he is called, came to Memphis to fulfill his dream of driving a bus, and he loved his job. His bus was like hope on wheels for many of the people who rode it as he greeted each one with words of joy and encouragement, and a sermon or two. One night a man got on the bus who just lost his job, was now homeless, and addicted to alcohol. He fell in the seat and said to Pastor Larry, “I know I could get sober if I just had a place to go, like a sober house.”
Pastor Larry was so inspired by the man’s need that he quit his job and converted his own home into a homeless shelter in 2007, offering shelter, counseling, and education services to homeless adults in the greater Memphis area. He provided hope and incentives for the addicted to return to a life of sobriety, and assisted them in re-establishing themselves in the community.
By 2010, Pastor Larry and the volunteers at Sober House Homeless Shelter, which has since become a nonprofit entity, have serviced more than 1,500 people, including families, with meals, shelter, counseling, education, and even provided more than 30 donated cars to people in need of transportation. In the big picture of social service responses, there are many established agencies with excellent services and reputations that respond to a wide range of negative social conditions in our community.
Philanthropy is alive and well in Memphis, and the generosity that is displayed by Memphians who want to help is inspirational. But when you focus in on fine brush strokes of that big picture, there is even more depth, more richness with the multitude of individuals who, each in his or her own way, are an important part of that big picture. One person with a vision and tenacity can still make a difference.
Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a National Education Consultant, at 574-2956 or visit mcd-partners.com.