Terence Lester knows the challenges of living on the streets. Once a homeless person, Lester is installing portable sinks with soap and water around homeless hangouts in Atlanta, Georgia, to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there are a total of at least 620 cases across the state with 25 deaths. In the United States at least 400 people have died from the virus as the number of cases in the country topped 32,000 on Sunday, March 22.
There are 294,110 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus pandemic globally with 12,944 confirmed deaths, according to the WHO.
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“All the news reports are saying wash your hands,” Lester told CNN. “But the homeless population often can’t.”
According to the annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, in 2019, an estimated 568,000 Americans experienced homelessness, with African Americans making up about 40% of that total.
When looking at the number of homeless people with children: African Americans accounted for about 52% of that population, with whites accounting for about 35%, the report said.
Lester, who’s now the executive director of Love Beyond Walls, a nonprofit focused on raising awareness of the realities and needs of the poor, and using that vehicle as a way of mobilizing people to take part in those stories, was homeless as a teenager.
Lester was put out of shelters, slept under bridges, ate handouts, begged for money, got put out of restaurants, stayed up countless days, and experienced every aspect of homelessness first-hand, according to the organization’s website.
Dmitry, was the first person to use the station yesterday to wash his hands.— lovebeyondwalls (@LoveBeyondWalls) March 19, 2020
He told us he hadn’t been able to wash his hands because he hadn’t had any water. This was his first response!
.#lovebeyondwalls @lovebeyondwalls pic.twitter.com/rGmsYTLpFV
“I was trying to think of how they will survive,” Lester said. “How can they get through this when they can’t even wash their hands? So, I decided to start there.”
Grammy-winning artist Lecrae and Reach Records have joined Lester’s initiative, providing the first 15 portable sinks.
“It is encouraging to me that someone like him and the platform he has, that he is willing to roll up his sleeves and serve alongside you,” Lester told CNN.
“I hope this catches on and spreads across the country. Even more than that, these sinks can spark the conversation of what else we can do to help the homeless facing this pandemic,” he added.
Lester’s initiative has received glorious reviews on social media particularly Twitter with some people calling for a replica in New York City.
I AM SPEECHLESS!! OURGOD WILL SUPPLY ALL OF OUR NEEDS!! FATHER GOD PLEASE PLEASE KEEP LOVE BEYOND WALLS IN THEIR SANITY AND PEACE AS WELL AS PSALMS91!!! GLORRRRY GLORRRRY GLORRRRY GLORRRRY GLORRRRY GLORRRRY GLORRRRY GLORRRRY GLORRRRY— PLANTASEEDNOW (@PLANTASEEDNOW1) March 19, 2020
Terence, you are a wonderful man. Your work and your story will inspire others as it has inspired me. Take care, dear sir.— archygirl (@archygirl2) March 22, 2020
🤭😭Thank you !!!! Thank you Love— Gerri r Ward (@Gerrirward2) March 22, 2020
Beyond Walls !!! What a major Blessing you are !!!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Prayers and Love to All !!! 🙏❤️
THIS! We need more ppl like these, thank you for your selfless act of kindness.— ℝ (@leeairrich) March 22, 2020
We need this in our nyc subway platforms.— Jesus Mata (@My_business_man) March 22, 2020