LITTLE ROCK, AR – A local volunteer group that routinely feeds the homeless says the city isn’t doing enough to help their efforts.
First displaced by construction, months ago, the Broadway Bridge Project finds itself once again without a place to go and help the hungry. The volunteers are getting increasingly frustrated.
“We just don’t know where we’re going to go next,” says volunteer Michael O’Connor.
The project is made up of a group of churches that work to feed Little Rock’s homeless. Now it is without a home too.
“We don’t want to intrude on any operating businesses. We don’t want to cause any disruptions. We’re just trying to feed hungry people,” O’Connor adds.
Back in 2006, the volunteers started cooking and handing out meals to the homeless under the Broadway Bridge. The news quickly spread throughout the homeless community, at times attracting more than 100 hungry mouths at a time.
“We’d been doing it so long that everybody knew you could get a meal underneath the Broadway Bridge at 6 o’clock,” says O’Connor.
But then, Broadway Bridge construction started. The group moved meal time to a parking lot off 3rd and Izard. Now, the lot’s been sold, displacing their efforts once again.
“The frustration is that it’s back to square one where when they first shut the bridge down. Third location in about as many months,” explains O’Connor.
Volunteers say the city told them they can serve dinners outside the Jericho Way Resource Center, near the airport, but the problem is that the center closes down at 4 p.m. Plus, the project says the trek would be too hard for the needy folks that depend on them.
So now, their handouts are on hiatus until the group can find a location and get back to doing what it does best.
“We know there are bigger issues in play that we can’t fix but we can cook pretty well so we’d like to do that,” O’Connor says.
We reached out to city officials who said they understand the impact construction has had and that they’ll continue to offer the Jericho Way Center as an option, if the Broadway Bridge Project changes its mind.