RICHMOND, Va. – What seemed like a fluke, overseas encounter has brought blessing to the founder of a local nonprofit, and a challenge to the Richmond community.
It starts with Richmond Friends of the Homeless, a group that has been helping the underprivileged and homeless since 1986. They have three locations where they offer meals.
For many people, like Amy Trammell and her eight-year-old daughter, the meals are a blessing.
"This church makes a big difference in my life with this meal,” Amy Trammel said. "This has definitely opened a door for us to have somewhere, to be able to eat, to make sure my daughter isn't hungry."
Many who visit these locations aren’t necessarily homeless, but without the service, many would go hungry. The nonprofit feeds more than 171,000 people each year. And of course, money is always tight.
"Funding is always the difficult part,” said Shawnee Hansen, who runs the nonprofit.
Shawnee recently took a vacation, or pilgrimage, to walk along a holy spot in Spain, known as Camino de Santiago, where she had a chance meeting with two brothers who were Cuban refugees.
"Totally credit our country for who they are today,” said Hansen.
She said that over dinner her nonprofit was brought up in the conversation and that's when the stranger said he thought their meeting was God’s plan.
"God whispers in my ear, ‘Mike, I want you to go walk the Camino, there's someone that needs your help and I'm going to bring them to you,’ and I believe you're the person he wanted me to meet,” Mike said.
A week later Hansen gets a call from her daughter.
"Mom, I've looked at this check six times and mom it says $150,000,” Hansen recalled.
It was the largest donation ever made to the organization, and Hansen said the donor asked only one thing.
"You go back and tell them this story and if a total stranger in Miami, Florida believes so much and is so impressed with the work that Richmond Friends of the Homeless is doing, I just challenge the Richmond Community to match my $150,000."
Shawnee is considering opening a fourth location to help serve the Hispanic population on Richmond's Southside.
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