Our member Phil Turek introduced David Acuff to us on Wednesday morning.  David is the Executive Director of Emmaus House.  He attended Elon College as an undergraduate and the University of St. Thomas to do his graduate work.  After graduate school he was the director of community work for the Union Mission.
Emmaus House has provided food and services for the homeless since 1982, and was founded by the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Christ Church Episcopal, First Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church, and the Lutheran Church of the Ascension.  The Emmaus House is operated by the United Ministries of Savannah, an independent non-profit organization, and Emmaus is open to anyone regardless of race, creed or color.  The United Ministries relies on private gifts, government grants, and volunteer help to “provide nutritious meals for hungry people.” Its mission is to collaborate with Savannah’s faith based community in providing healthy meals and services for the homeless and near homeless.

David told us that Emmaus House serves breakfast every weekday morning at 8.30am in the Parish House of Christ Church Episcopal on the corner of Abercorn St. and Bryan St. in downtown Savannah.  David paid tribute to all the volunteers who help him provide a meal to 100-150 people every day.  There are showers available and laundry machines.  This many people need a lot of food, David said, and a bowl of cereal won’t do; for many, this is their only meal of the day. (He mentioned scrambling 15 dozen eggs!)

David asked us to pose questions…….

“How do people get there?”  “They walk or bicycle from shelters, under bridges, some come by bus.”
“Is it the same people every day?”  “We don’t care who comes, all who show up are welcome.  We keep no files or records on who comes, we get to know some of them by their first names.   Some go back up north in the summer. Many of those who come do so over a long period of time.”
“Coordination with other agencies?”  “Yes, most of the people who come are from the shelters in town.”
“Record number for a breakfast?”  “262.”
“Funding?”  “Individuals, companies, foundations, churches, donations.”

David commented on the sociology of the homeless who live in Savannah:  There are two basic groups, living in two separate locations.  One group consists of many who have past criminal records, the other consists largely of families, in which one member may occasionally work.  The two groups are not well disposed to each other.  He said that if anyone comes to the locale for breakfast and behaves disruptively, he or she is not admitted, but the people are largely self-regulating and will stop others from misbehaving.  If anyone asks for help the Emmaus house staff will refer him or her to an appropriate agency. David ended his presentation with a plea for food, toiletries (miniatures from hotels, for example) paper products, volunteers, and money.