Helping the poor and homeless is nothing new to Beats The Streets founder, Jeanette Hames. Whether providing food, books, clothing or a warm bed for the night, she’s been trying to help them improve their lives for most of hers.
Her first memory of working with those less fortunate is, at the age of six, helping her mother provide food, clothing, books and Bibles to residents in impoverished neighborhoods that were behind Georgia Tech and later demolished in pre-Olympic and Atlantic Station construction.
“My mother would witness to the families she served, give out books, clothing, and plenty of groceries. She even held a woman’s Bible study on Wednesday mornings in one of the ladies’ home. I loved the worship time on Wednesday’s and the cookies too.
“The woman that hosted the Bible Study would play gospel songs on the piano. A couple others brought their horns and the rest of us, including me, had tamberines. I can still see my little feet in my favorite black, patten-leather shoes and lace, ruffled socks dancing across those hardwood floors.”
As Jeanette finished college and went into business, she found herself, like a lot of young people her age, more wrapped up in making money than giving. She raised her children in the church and even though she considered herself a Christian because she went to church and helped those in need, she lived a life without a relationship with Jesus Christ. Andy Stanley gave a message about "Not Christian". It was about being a disciple and the message changed my life.
“I gave my life to the Lord a couple years ago and I made a promise not to be just a Christian, but a true disciple of Jesus. That means serving him in whatever capacity He would have me serve. In my mind, I thought He would have me serve in “Waumba Land” on Sunday. I had forgotten about my youth, but He hadn’t.”
Within two weeks of her baptism, Jeanette found herself on top of a homeless shelter in Atlanta, building what would be the largest “roof top” vegetable garden in the Southeast. She feels she was led to make it self-sustainable and so she brought in a Master Beekeeper, who transplanted a beehive to the rooftop as well as a specialist to create a rainwater irrigation system.
"For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land." Deuteronomy 15:11
Most mornings, were spent with homeless people at the shelter, visiting with them, asking about their day, their stories, wants, dreams and needs. By treating them like they're somebody” and sharing a little of her story, she built relationships and was able to begin helping people.
Today, many homeless people know Jeanette by name, as she knows them. They often ask when she plans to offer a shelter with workshops, rehabiltative programs, educational classes to help them transition back into a self-sustainable life -- the very lesson God taught her about the garden, "self-sustainability". "It’s hard for people to understand that you can’t just walk away when you open your heart and life to serve those in need.”
This, Jeanette believes, is the purpose of the non-profit, Beats the Streets. To love, care, teach, mentor and also share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the homeless men, women and children. So that they can break the shackles of their imprisonment and find hope, self-respect, dignity through faith and the guidance of our Heavenly Father.
"If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother" Deuteromony 15:7