An Eye On The Future

Bill and Michelle White

We caught up with Bill and Michelle White, co-founders of 5Loaves2Fish Northern Michigan, to chat about how the summer went and what they are looking forward to as the need for support for the homeless and food insecure continues to grow in our area.

Q: First of all, how are you guys feeling about the three ‘Big Change Equals Big Change’ events held over the summer? Do you feel the series on homelessness accomplished what you set out to do?

A: Yes. Anytime you can get information out about homelessness and food insecurity, it is positive. We have had a number of people come up to us and comment: (1) That they were glad someone is making it known; (2) They were unaware of the percentage of people in Leelanau County who are food insecure or close to it; and (3) They are pleased we are addressing this issue locally. Also, during game night, many participants said they just wanted to give up. That is very much how people feel after long-term homelessness. 

Q: Each of the three events was so different — a simulated ‘game’ about the harsh reality of homelessness, an informative panel discussion led by local professionals, and a joyful celebration of music and fellowship to raise money for the 5Loaves2Fish cause. Do you feel these events touched people differently? Have new volunteers joined your cause as a result of the Big Change series?

A: Yes, we feel by utilizing three distinct ways to create awareness and education homelessness each event gave a little different perspective, and for those who participated in all three they were able to get a full spectrum on what it feels like to experience homelessness to what we can do to get down and start breaking the systemic causes of homelessness. Yes, we have seen a large influx of new volunteers and we couldn’t be more excited. There is a great need to fill and the more we have join us, the more meals we can serve.

Q: 5Loaves2Fish has been graciously gifted with a new van, a walk-in cooler and commercial freezer to help in serving meals at Veterans’ Park in Traverse City each week. While these supplies — along with food donations — help you administer vital outreach services to those experiencing homelessness, do you have an even bigger vision down the road for how to provide housing to this population?

A: We sure do. Everything about 5loaves2Fish is a God thing, so we figure we might as well dream big. Mark 11:24 says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

We have a vision of more than just feeding people. We want to be part of the housing solution, too. We envision a large chunk of land with tiny houses, a garden, and livestock — a self-contained community with a large common kitchen to prepare meals, but also to teach skills and create empowered dignity. With collaboration, we believe this dream can be fulfilled.