I had the privilege of sitting down with Elisabeth and Afemo Omilami the CEO/COO of Hosea Feed the Hungry one of Atlanta’s biggest non-profits. They are gearing up for their big Labor of Love event this weekend to help Atlanta’s unemployed link up with potential employers. I got a chance to chat with the charitable couple to talk community service, politics, Ferguson, and ATLANTA.
Check it out below.
Power couple Elisabeth Omilami and Afemo Omilami are doing amazing things for the city of Atlanta as it relates to service and empowerment through their nationally known non-profit Hosea Feed the Hungry (HFTH). Since the organization’s founding in 1971, Hosea Feed The Hungry and Homeless, a Christian international aid organization, has distributed more than $3 billion in food, clothing, medical, educational, toiletries, furniture and cleaning supplies around the world. Based in Atlanta, the organization is all about economic, social, and political empowerment.
I was so excited to visit the beautifully decorated Hosea House situated in Atlanta’s historic Kirkwood community. The Hosea House belongs to the Williams family; its been renovated into a beautiful sanctuary showcasing precious artifacts from the Civil Rights Movement. The cozy house also acts as an office space for HFTH and an intimate event space for small functions. The couple delightfully chatted with candor about everything from organizing nonprofits to the evolution of social media to how to effectively take a “selfie” for Instagram. Thanks to us Mrs. O has mastered Instagram selfies.
In Atlanta Mr. and Mrs. O are known for their huge dinners and service projects that includes helping the homeless but there’s so much more to the couple that gives on a daily basis. Mr. and Mrs O are “crazy in love” with one another after 38 years of marriage, two children, 1 grand baby, and 2 grand babies who’s expected to arrive Fall 2014. They both share a passion for film and are accomplished actors with a filmography that includes over 100 movies. They shared with bright smiles that they met on stage as teenagers and have been together ever since.
Mrs. O proudly shared that she recently became a honorary member of Zeta Phi Beta, Sorority Inc; carrying on the legacy started by her father Rev. Hosea who was a member of Phi Beta Sigma. Mr. O smiled as his wife giggled with girlish pride at her latest accomplishment.
Mr. and Mrs. O have a lot to smile about these days because they are BOSSES when it comes to philantrophy. Atlanta recently announced a day to celebrate their charitable deeds. They received a lifetime achievement award shared by the likes of Ruby Dee and Ozzie Davis for their work in the arts and giving back. As we sat around the Hosea House sharing stories that varied from the best fried chicken to Lester Maddox; my admiration heighten for the couple that diligently works hard to help everybody.
Some people think success is about sitting back and “STUNTING”. Mr. and Mrs. O are too busy to sit around and talk.Their latest venture is the Labor of Love at the Georgia International Convention Center on Saturday, September 6, 2014.
The event is slated as a day of service and empowerment that includes distribution of groceries to over 1,500 families, as well as offer job readiness workshops and employment opportunities (over 50 employers will be present at the event). Check it out if you need a job or just want to help out.
They have taken on the mantel of service started by Elisabeth Omilani’s parents Civil Rights iconic Rev. Hosea and Mrs. Juanita T. Williams.
Check out what Mr. and Mrs. O had to say below:
FreddyO: How did the Labor of Love get started?
Mr. Omilani: Labor of Love started about 4 years ago. Unemployment was at an all-time HIGH. People were getting ready to run out of unemployment benefits. We just knew we had to do something. The first year we gave out food, clothes, and water at the HFTH headquarters. The second year we partnered with the Georgia Department of Labor and held the event at Turner Fields. We did workshops, job interviews, and résumé critiques. This lead to the Convoy of Hope which is even bigger and better being held at the GA International Convention Center; donated by the city of College Park.
Mrs. Omilani: The event is open residents of all Metro Atlanta counties. People are lacking hope; so many young people have just given up and we don’t want that to happen. It’s a lot of decent/hardworking people without work; its hard to be out of a job for extended periods of time. It’s not just a job fair; we want to empower people to keep looking and trying.
Mr. Omilani: It’s my vision of inspiring and helping men (in particular) take care of their families. When men can’t take care of their families it is demoralizing. It’s very personal for me. I know what it’s like to feel helpless. Last year we gave away a car. We were very proud of that. We just want to give back and the community LOVE IT! This is how we get high; by giving back and making a difference in our community.
FreddyO: What do you think Rev. Hosea would feel about today’s Hosea Feed the Hungry?
Mrs. Omilani: He would want to make sure that we are staying vocal. We don’t allow ourselves to get complacent with our fundraising efforts. He was all about ringing the alarm for injustices.
Example: There were several closing of homeless shelters in Atlanta; I held a press conference. We received backlash because we spoke out. People told us not to rock the boat. We are boat rockers.
Rev. Hosea hated when people did not speak out on injustices. He published a newspaper every week; highlighting injustices. He would have been a social media king.
Mr. Omilani: Mrs. Juanita T. Williams was just as important to the legacy of the movement and our family. She kept our family stable. Rev. Hosea was larger than life but Mrs. Williams kept us all together. She would be pleased that her family’s legacy is intact.
Mrs. Omilani: Two of his favorite sayings included,
I SEE SO MUCH YOU DO; I CAN’T HEAR NOTHING YOU SAY!
I rather see a sermon any day than hear one.
We work hard at maintaining our family’s legacy which includes giving back and being that siren of justice. We are at a crossroads about the direction that we want to take HFTH but the focal point will always be about community service and being a siren to help correct injustices.
FreddyO: What made the Williams family different from the other civil rights families?
Mrs. Omilani: There were two types of families in the civil rights movement. Those who marched and worked tirelessly. Then there were those who stood on the sidelines and waited for their photo opportunity.
Rev. Hosea Williams made us work in the movement and for the organization. Before he died; he had me doing everything from PR, to working in the pantry, to administration, to answering the phone. I remember saying,
“Dad, you are driving me Crazy! I CAN’T DO ALL THIS!”
He was showing me that it takes all this and more to keep what we do ALIVE. A lot of people think that we just showed up after Rev. Hosea died. We were there for 30 years working. We have always been about the HFTH way of life!
FreddyO: Did you envision your life being an extension of your parent’s legacy and mission?
Mrs. Omilani: We didn’t want this life; we wanted to go to LA and be rich and famous (LAUGHS). We are actors and had thriving careers that we chose to put on hold to do the work of HFTH.
When my father died a homeless lady wanted to know who was going to take care of them now. Then the media wanted to know; who was going to keep the legacy alive? Will the dinner go on? I knew it had to go on. I was raised to do it. I married a man who got it. We were groomed to do this work.
We missed our careers by not being in LA; but God has still blessed us with so many opportunities to work as actors and still do his work. We are truly blessed!
FreddyO: Can I ask you your thoughts on Ferguson and some people’s lack of acknowledgement about the issues that impact young black people?
Mrs. Omilani: During my era we were proud of our blackness. James Brown had us all running around quouting,
“Say it loud; I’m black and I’m proud”.
We were proud to be black. Today’s youth are not proud of being black. The thing that disappointed me about Obama is his use of the terms “People of Color”. This is a BLACK ISSUE! Ferguson is a BLACK ISSUE! This is not an issue of people of COLOR.
Racism is like a rock being struck. You strike that rock and it appears unharmed; but if you put that rock under a microscope you see the impact. Racism in America is like a rock being hit continuously. You can’t see the damage but it’s there. I wish that people would understand that and know that not speaking out is damaging. Use your voice to speak out!
FreddyO: I would love to connect with you more for these wonderful conversations.
Mr. Omilani: Yes let’s do that. We can’t let things become stagnant. We need dialogue about political and social issues.
I had a ball hanging out with Mr. and Mrs. O. I invite you to check out and support the good works over at Hosea Williams Feed the Hungry by visiting http://4hosea.org/.
Check out some of the pictures we got and the amazing pieces at the Hosea House.
Tagged with: Afemo Omilami • atlanta charity • Charity Organizations • Elisabeth Omilami • FreddyO • Helping Atlanta's Homeless • HFTH • Hosea Feed The Hungry • Hosea Feed the Hungry (HFTH) • Juanita Williams • Labor of Love • Phi Beta Sigma • pretty girls rock dresses • rev hosea williams • The Hosea House • Zeta Phi Beta