With the economy the worst it's been in decades, many of know of someone who has lost their home or who is currently living in a homeless shelter, but many who are hungry are too afraid to speak up. And with homelessness and hunger affecting everyone from the elderly, families, and children, actor Obaid Kadwani knew he wanted to help so he started A Slice Of Hope organization, which not only throws pizza parties for guests at homeless shelters, but his organization helps encourage those who are looking to make a difference in their community by ending homelessness and hunger once and for all.
Candace Rose: With over 48 million Americans going hungry everyday, what can we do about the hunger epidemic and how did you become involved?
Obaid Kadwani: "Well, I think the first thing we need to do is acknowledge there is an epidemic and refuse to accept that it will continue the way it is. My organization and the project eyeBLINKS A Slice Of Hope, we throw pizza parties with live music in homeless shelters for one week every June. And because we get discounted pizzas from sponsors like Domino's; for every dollar a person is sponsoring, two slices and live music for a person in need directly feeding the body and energizing the soul. And that's very important- energizing the soul because when you're going through dark times and feeling all the despair; when people feel the strength and the love coming from strangers cheering them on it means a lot and creates a happy moment, and it creates that little thread of hope that is very essential to fight on."
ASliceofHope.org not only provides meals, but hope for those in need.
Candace Rose: And as you mentioned you founded A Slice Of Hope; can you tell us more about it?
Obaid Kadwani: "Absolutely. I began the project A Slice Of Hope in 2007. I just wanted to throw a couple of pizza parties in a couple of New York City shelters where I am based, and when I sent it out to my network the outpouring from people who said 'oh my God, finally we can do something to help' and we had enough donations to throw pizza parties in five New York City shelters. And then in subsequent years we've been establishing beachheads in states all across America, and now we're in about 25 states this year- all the parties taking place between June 18th through June 24th. We're taking charge and leading the fight against this epidemic, and it's also making communities all across America take part in this celebration of the good in all of us because we're not standing by anymore. We are saying 'we are going to do something'. Also, it puts a spotlight on the good work that the homeless shelters are doing 365 days a year. When you go to our website ASliceOfHope.org you will see pictures and videos from the parties and you see the people that are in the shelters are just like you and me. You have senior citizens- grandma and grandpa, you have families, you have single moms, you have infants, you have everyone in there from every different demographic. These are just like you and me who met unfortunate circumstances in life and they deserve a chance to get back on their feet, and so we have to give it to them."
A Slice Of Hope is helping to end the hunger epidemic by providing meals for those in need.
Candace Rose: I was surprised to see that states such as Alabama and California have the highest rate of hunger, while states such as Minnesota, Connecticut and South Dakota have the lowest. Why do you think that is and what can we do about it?
Obaid Kadwani: "Well, it's because there's such a stigma associated with being hungry. Your neighbor is never going to tell you 'I am hungry, my cupboard is bare'. And the key to that is to remove the stigma from it. We have to create a certain communal joy in 'I was able to help my neighbor' and at the same time remove the communal stigma of 'Oh God I needed help'. And that's how we combat it by doing it that way. That's part of the reason why we put the actual face on these numbers, these statistics- not some 'oh it's a person from a homeless shelter'. No, it's your neighbor; it's someones family member- creating that bond. When people come and they actually volunteer at the parties- a lot of them end up having a slice, essentially breaking bread with a person who is a homeless shelter guest and then they hear all the stories and they say 'Oh my God, they're just like us'. We have a wonderful volunteer (a single mom) with two children in Florida who sponsors two parties and takes her kids out there to teach them how blessed they are. It's important to realize how blessed we are and then it's important to realize we have to share our blessings as well."
Just a few of the many A Slice Of Hope volunteers who provide hope to families in need.
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share?
Obaid Kadwani: "Absolutely. Please go to our website ASliceOfHope.org. You can find the donate button there, you can also find the get involved button where you can learn how to throw your own fundraisers; you can actually get together and sponsor a party at a homeless shelter. You can also learn how to contact your own homeless shelter as well, but definitely get involved. Go to ASliceOfHope.org and say 'I am going to decide today to become part of the solution', and if all of us say that, by tomorrow we will have conquered this."
Obaid with musicians providing live music
If you would like to volunteer, donate or would like more information, please visit ASliceOfHope.org