Before I get started, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is James LaCombe and I have worked in Chattanooga off of Rossville Blvd for almost 21 years, so I am in Chattanooga quiet a bit. Over the years, I have even come to consider it “my city.“ In February of 2015, while on my way to work one morning, I heard a story on the news of a homeless man that froze to death just outside the Community Kitchen on 11th street. I’m not sure why this particular story stirred something in me, but it did, and from that stirring sprang “His Hands Homeless Outreach.”
Let me tell you who we are. We are a non-profit organization with it’s own bank account, debit card and EIN number. We feel like this is the most efficient and organized way to keep track of all donations and keep everything transparent. My wife, Kim, serves as our administrator; she has earned a degree in accounting and has been in banking for 12 years. Our son, Austin, along with Bob Koerber (our soon-to-be-son) address and oversee all of our media operations, while our daughter, Kelsey, assists in behind-the-scenes operations of assembling packages and lunches among other things. I humbly serve as the Director and main contact on the trips themselves. Our organization is called His Hands Homeless Outreach – or HHH Outreach for short – and although this name references a higher power, we don’t preach or witness, nor do we hand out Bibles or tracks. We feel it’s better to show love and kindness by our actions rather than our words.
We operate on the streets of Chattanooga, aiding the homeless and/or underprivileged by taking care packages that contain but are not limited to, such things as: soap, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, chap stick, sunscreen, disposable razor, shaving cream, a comb, a pair of socks, a bottle of water and a few snacks like peanut butter crackers, granola bars, trail mix, hard candies and chewing gum. After just a few trips, we also began to realize that there is a hunger out there that is bigger than snack food, so we felt like in addition to the care packages we would also start doing brown bag lunches. These lunches consist of a main item (usually a sandwich, hot dog, or something of the like), accompanied by a bag of chips, a snack cake and a soda. We also hand out plenty of bottled water on every trip we take.
Why do we do this? We feel like it is by God’s grace that we are not living on the streets. We feel like actions are louder than words. We feel like as human beings, it is our responsibility to help other human beings if we can. Some of the things we’ve witnessed, to be honest, I would have never guessed you’d see right here in Chattanooga. There is so much hunger, desperation, loneliness, and fear. We want to try and make these people feel human, to let them know someone cares and loves them, to give them hope for a better tomorrow, to do something positive in our community. Our primary goal is to simply help people in their situation, without passing judgment and with no strings attached.
James P. LaCombe