One Generous Incident Prompts Wave of Giving
When George Ortiz' business in California collapsed six years ago and he lost his house, he had no other choice than to move his family of four to Douglasville, Ga. to stay with his sister while he worked to get back on his feet.
Returning from a trip to the Northeast looking for work, George met his family at the Chick-fil-A restaurant on Douglasville Highway. They ordered their food and then he realized he did not have enough money in his wallet. Embarrassed, he told the cashier that he left his wallet in the car, but then went to usher his whole family out the door. The manager saw what was happening, got the meal together quickly, ran around the counter and brought it all out to them saying it was on the house. George actually tried to refuse it, not wanting to take handouts, and said he was just having a tough time and he'd pay for the food later. Humbled by the generosity of the Chick-fil-A employee, though, the family accepted the food and enjoyed their meal together.
That single incident hit the Ortiz family so deeply that it inspired the new business concept George was working on for a community development organization; they structured their business model simply around feeding people. He started The Elisha Project through which families volunteer to make and hand out brown paper bag lunches to homeless people and those, like the Ortiz family, who have just fallen on tough times. He says he does it because he realized that you don't know what anyone's situation is — when someone fed him without embarrassing him, it changed his life. His Facebook page feeds someone a meal for every "like" they receive, giving people the ability to "pay it forward" with just one click.
"I was inspired by gratitude that day and it's changed the way I see business now," George says.
The Ortiz family moved to Providence, R.I., in 2011 with the vision to begin serving brown paper bag lunches to other families facing difficulty from job or home loss. The program has grown now from one family to 1300 families working together to serve more than 7,000 meals. The Elisha Project now has several branches: a Saturday lunch program, healthy weekend program, community engagement program and non-branded corporate program. They are opening new centers in Virginia and Boston in 2013.
The Ortiz family, now with six members, continues to live and serve in Providence, sometimes driving more than 45 minutes to eat together at the nearest Chick-fil-A restaurant.
A Charitable Chick-fil-A
For the past 2 years, I have volunteered to work for a charity, called "Share Our Strength". It's a read more...