Almost two years ago, Amanda found a very interesting article in “Taste of Home” magazine. Many of you have heard our origin story, but, if you haven’t, you should. To make a long story short, we had this fascinating idea for serving in the community in a unique way. We just needed to figure out how to implement it and see if it had legs. For the next four months we batted ideas around while I tried to build up the nerve to give it a shot. Finally, it was through the urging of our church “small group” that we made a go of it.
It was the first of many pivotal moments in our lives as an organization. We rode that first morning unsure of how to approach people, what to say, and how not to pre-judge, but eager to do something positive for someone, through making human connections. We started with ten burritos that first morning, had 21 the next week, and 30 the ride after that. As of today, while operating in two cities, the Burrito Riders have provided nearly 8000 hot breakfast burritos! More importantly, we have made many human connections, flowing in all directions. As much as we treasure the relationships that we set out to create with the folks whom we serve, we have, in some instances, been surprised by the friendships that we have developed with people whom we have come to know through serving together. Strangers have become friends; friends have become closer friends.
I wanted to reach out and share my gratitude to you for being a supporter of the Burrito Riders. Over the past 15 months we have had so many wonderful opportunities to become involved with so many great volunteers, and we couldn’t do a fraction of what we do without the help of each one of them! Even better, our volunteers have made it possible for us to do the work we came here to do.
Our formula is simple, but our mission is more complex. From our perspective, the burritos, while important for providing a portable, healthy, and filling meal, are merely a vehicle to help us arrive at our true destination, which is building relationships within the community of need and showing God’s love. We want to learn names and histories, so that we can build trust and begin to understand how we can help individuals at a ground level. The burritos help us gain access to folks. And that help isn’t always overt, and that’s great too. As mentioned in our last blog post, sometimes that help takes the form of showing respect, love, and compassion in mundane ways, such as enjoying live music together with our families. Activities such as these show people who come from very different circumstances that we are not, in fact, so different from each other in the hopes that they will begin to reclaim some of dignity that is so quickly taken away from people who find themselves homeless or in need of support.
Here’s where we need your help. We need people; we need all of your friends and families! We need folks to do what they can, and there’s something for everyone to do.
We need, first and foremost, burritos. Can you, or someone you know, make a batch? Even better, can you AND someone you know get together, spending time together, to make a few batches? Perhaps you could involve your boy scout troop, church youth group, or college study group. Without burritos we are without our most basic element, and they are the foundation upon which we have built a reputation of consistency, reliability, and trust. This ensures that we will always be welcomed by new people. We have had a tough time of late gaining new volunteers and re-engaging previous volunteers. Can you help us as we work to climb off of this plateau we’ve found ourselves on?
We need donations. Donations are key for us, and I’ll highlight just two reasons why here. We sometimes have people who passionately want to serve and are willing to roll burritos, but can’t afford to contribute themselves. (Hello, college students!) So we reach into our donated funds to buy the necessary ingredients in order to enable them to serve too. This is a GREAT thing to be able to do, just one of the many ways we work to make it as easy and exciting to serve as we are able. When volunteers ebb, we sometimes have to encourage more students to help us in this capacity, and we’ve had to do that a lot more lately. We also plan to begin fundraising to enable us to establish 501(c)(3) federal non-profit tax-exempt status. Our hope is that by becoming a 501, we will be able to generate larger donations of food and resources from companies who have deeper pockets but need that tax relief. These types of donors could help us go far in our goals of providing relief and compassion, but the process to become a 501 is not inexpensive.
We need voices. This is something that most everyone can help with. We need people to take on our mission for spreading the word of the Burrito Riders. We need people who will provide us with some exposure through social media (relentlessly Share us on FaceBook, RT us on Twitter), who will post about our blog for others to see, who will email their friends and family about us, who will TALK about us to their friends, their dentist, their neighbors, their coworkers. If you shared our ministry with 25 people and 2 people contacted us, that would be so worthwhile for the people in our community. (And seriously, tell your dentist about us! We always need hygiene items!)
You have helped us go so far, further than I could have envisioned early on with this project, but that’s just helped us to see how much more we can do and how much our community needs.
Spread the word, fly the flag, #loveservegive
To donate for the Louisville community: http://fnd.us/c/fIcmf
To donate for the Huntington community: http://fnd.us/c/5QSi6
You can also check out some of our media activity since we began!