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The Power of Giving: How One Group is Helping the Homeless of Atlanta

Second from left, Jessica Cochran. Far right, Kathy Storm.

By Michael Cuneo – 

Thanksgiving is upon us once again, and although it can be easy to get caught up in the planning of meals and the great Black Friday deals that will surely fulfill your every need, one group is reminding us to stop and help those who truly need it.

Brooks Shelter, an organization founded by Jessica Cochran, distributed meals to hundreds of the homeless in downtown Atlanta on Nov. 19. While most people think about what they are thankful for this time of year, Cochran says her father, who battled ALS before his death in 2019, instilled in her the value of giving without the intention of receiving anything back.

Jessica Cochran preparing meals for the homeless.

“Brooks came from remembrance of dad; my maiden’s name is Brooks.” Cochran said. “My daddy always was a giver, he helped so many different people. I just felt like this was something to remember him by.”

The task of providing more than 200 meals for the homeless in Atlanta was no easy feat, and a collaborative effort from both team members and generous business owners helped Cochran achieve her goal.

Cochran, who is an Alabama native, says she was inspired to help those in need in Atlanta after visiting and seeing the state that the homeless were living in.

“I came to downtown Atlanta a couple months ago and I have always wanted to help the homeless. When I came down here and seen them [the homeless] eating out of trash cans it really just hurt my heart.” Cochran said.

Brooks Shelter has several members on their staff who work diligently to make sure events like feeding the homeless can go smoothly. One of the volunteers is former Fayette County resident Kathy Storm, whose troubled background has added another layer to the compassion that she brings to giving.

“Sixteen plus years ago I myself was addicted to drugs. I found myself poor, broke, had to sleep in a car with a baby even when we had jobs. Seeing the homeless in Atlanta showed me that there was a need and God placed it on my heart to be one of the people that helps.” Storm said.

Kathy Storm distributing meals near Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta.

Storm, who spent a portion of her life addicted to drugs and living in extremely scarce conditions says that the homeless need to be treated with love and compassion.

“They’re human beings that have issues that have not been addressed. Psychologically they may be damaged. I just think they need to be treated with kindness and love and definitely not forgotten.” Storm said.

In her own time, Storm gathers coats and other clothing pieces to donate to the homeless, something she says she is just one way people can help those in need.

“In my experience, I’ve found that a lot of homeless people have mental disorders. I feel like there is a great need for shelters. You see people living on the street because they can’t mentally correct their situation. I think if we start off with kindness and giving and make it repetitive, don’t just be here once a week.”

For Brooks Shelter and Cochran, this is just the beginning as the organization plans to hold several more events to help the homeless of Atlanta through the holiday season, reminding us all to not just be thankful for what we have, but also to care for those who need it most.

By Michael Cuneo

Michael Cuneo is a news and sports reporter for the Fayette County News. Michael graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Journalism in 2020. In his off time, Michael enjoys torturing himself as an Atlanta Falcons fan. Follow Michael on twitter @michaelcune