“Leaving an office Christmas party, I grabbed a chocolate chip cookie on the go, for the ride home. I have a weakness for chocolate chip cookies, can’t resist them! Walking down 6th Street to my car, I passed by a homeless man sitting on the step of a bar storefront. The bar was closed, its metal door still locked up tight. He bundled up in all the clothes that he possesses to keep warm. His meager belongings next to him, a backpack and a tattered rolled up blanket. He looked dirty and tired. He didn’t shower for days, and probably didn’t have much to eat either. His eyes sad. I stopped and gave him my cookie. His face lit up, he broke into a smile, said to me: “Why thank you! How do you know I have a sweet tooth?” I never forget that smile, it breaks my heart. No one should go hungry like this. We are in the land of plenty, are we not?”
My journey with Mobile Loaves & Fishes began in 2008 after hearing Alan talk to a group about an unconventional new way to house the homeless of Austin. The approach seemed implausible to me at the time. I’m sure I was offensive with one skeptical question after another. As a farmer, I was looking for down to earth ways for healing the ails of our society, but this Community First! thing seemed outside the realm of common sense. I couldn’t ignore the signs of it’s success, however, and over the course of the following year I found plenty. When I came up with a hairbrained scheme of my own, attempting to rally individuals living in poverty together using something like the common rhythms of a family farm, I knew just who to talk to about it. It’s been three years since Alan’s talk, and the evidence supporting MLF’s approach to homelessness and homemaking continues to mound around me. It continues to back up the vision Alan cast for this skeptical farmer. I’m so pleased he didn’t count my early doubts against me.
One day an old man was walking along the beach when he noticed a young boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back into the ocean, they will surely die. “ “Son, “ the man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!” After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, the boy said, “I made a difference for that one!
The Good Lord has blessed me in countless ways. He has allowed me to witness many miracles when MLF has made a “difference for that one” or “this one” or “the other one”. That is why I am part of the MLF family.
I’ve always had an affinity for helping those in need. As a little girl, and until I went to college, I wanted to be a police officer. I then realized I wanted to be more personally involved with people than that would allow and searched for different avenues without finding my true calling. Eight years ago I began to notice a homeless man outside of my office every morning picking up trash that was not his and he always kept a nice appearance. I organized a drive at the office for him and was surprised when I brought him the goods that he wouldn’t take most of it. He said that there were others that needed it more than he. His respectful honesty really made me curious and needing to hear others’ stories, but my shyness held me back. One Labor Day shortly after, I fell ill with Viral Encephalitis, caused by a virus attacking my brain. After six months of recovery, escaping with my life and a newfound appreciation for it, I felt a real calling to go out into the streets to help and advocate for the homeless. I lost all shyness and dove straight in because I felt God had put me through a situation to see and understand what I needed to do. I was given a second chance at life; I need to make sure others get the same.
Katie is a CPA and a graduate from the PPA program at The University of Texas at Austin. After 12 years in public and private accounting, God opened the door in 2007 for Katie to join the Mobile Loaves & Fishes team as CFO and Business Administrator. Katie was humbled and overjoyed at the opportunity to be an integral part of serving those in need while still using her education, skills and experience. Katie and her family especially enjoy serving the Community First! residents every chance they get. Katie is married to Chad and they are blessed with three – precious girls: Anna (5), Madison (4) and Lexi (2).
Early in my career, I served as the Director of Communications at FUMC-Austin. My job focused on the production of our weekly television broadcasts, and I also took part in the weekday communion services. At one of these services, I met a young man who was down on his luck…recently divorced, unemployed, and living in his broken down truck. As we talked, I learned that if he could just get his truck repaired, he could get back home in south Texas. Our church had many services available for those in need, but car repair wasn’t one of them. Fortunately, through prayer, faith and the kindness of friends, the truck was repaired and the young man drove away.
Years later, I was working as a writer for the “Barney and Friends” television show when I received some “fan mail.” The hand written note read, “I work as a teacher for mentally challenged youth. The Barney show is a big part of our day. As we were watching today, I noticed your name scroll by on the screen, and I knew I had to contact you. Years ago, when I was at my lowest point, you reached out to me, helped me fix my truck and get back home. I was able to get into school, graduate, and now I teach special needs kids. Without your help, I’m not sure where I would have ended up. What a difference you made in my life. Thank you.”
He made his way home, and now he makes a difference every day in the lives of others. I’m blessed to have been even a small part of that homecoming. Today, I‘m blessed to be at home as part of the MLF staff.
My husband Mike and I are the parents of two wonderful daughters, Lauren and Gillian. We are members of Lake Travis United Methodist Church, and proud UT alumni!
Long ago, this verse became ingrained in my heart:
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
When I met Steven, I was transitioning out of teaching and looking to farm full time. I had visions of a community farm that served the physical and spiritual needs of the hungry in Austin.
I began volunteering with Genesis Gardens, first weekly, then more and more. It was in the planting of these gardens that I found we, as a community, were rooting ourselves to the place and to each other. We were making a home with one another. I found the verses that had long called to me echoed back in this work.
And as I’ve gotten to know Mobile Loaves & Fishes–the staff, the volunteers and all those we serve alongside—I’ve seen that this home is inhabited by a community that cares for one another as family. I am grateful to be a part of this movement of abundant love and life.
I came to Mobile Loaves & Fishes because I wanted to feel like I was making a difference when I come to work each day. Despite the technical nature of my job here, I am able to do work that touches people’s lives and relieves suffering in my fellow human beings. For more than ten years, I have been active in interfaith work in Austin, so I not only value the work MLF does socially but from a spiritual standpoint as well. Being a part of the MLF family has been an enormous blessing and I am truly fortunate to work in a loving environment with such passionate people.
I am so happy to be a part of the Mobile Loaves & Fishes staff! It was truly a miracle and a blessing that this opportunity came to me and I was perfectly suited for the job. My background is in the corporate world and I am so glad I made the change to Mobile Loaves & Fishes because my work is so much more fulfilling now. It is nice to know that I have a small part in helping those who need help the most. The staff has welcomed me into this wonderful, caring family that is Mobile Loaves & Fishes.
I’ve always felt that those we consider the “least” are actually the ones we should value the most. Some people have this notion in society that helping someone else in need benefits the one in need solely, but it actually benefits the giver as well. We grow more and more into reflecting the image of Christ by sharing His love and compassion.
MLF is a ministry and a mission for me. I’ve been a technology consultant for years and I believe, by using my gifts and talents here, technology can be a gateway to help change the hearts, minds, and conditions of people. We can change the world if we commit to helping indidviduals to maintain hope regardless of their situation. Whether it is in the form of a smile, a meal or simply a conversation, hope can cancel out despair. Mark 9:35
I started working for Mobile Loaves & Fishes over three years ago helping Katie out with various HR & accounting projects as needed. Now, I am the Business Administrator and oversee all the HR aspects of the org. As a CPA with two small children, I only work part time and mostly from home. However, I still feel like a part of the family, and the amazing staff always greets me with a warm smile and hug. Moreover, I am truly humbled at how passionately everyone serves this cause. I have always been captivated by MLF’s vision and compassion for those in need, and I feel blessed to be able to use my skills to serve MLF even if it’s in a small way. I am so excited to be a part of this team building communities for the homeless! I am married to my awesome partner in crime, John, and our two children, Chloe (5) and Sydney (2.5), keep us on our toes! We are a part of the Church of Lake Travis and bleed orange.
Nate Schlueter is a proud Christ-follower, husband, and father. He is the director and visionary founder of the Mobile Loaves & Fishes ROADS program (Relationships & Opportunities Allowing for Dignity & Security). ROADS creates dignified income opportunities for the homeless in Austin using innovative micro-enterprise concepts. The unique part of the program is that the individual participating in the opportunity receives 100% of the profits for the items made or sold that day. Nate strongly believes that by living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through our service towards the poor and marginalized, Austin becomes an even better and more beautiful place to call home. In his spare time, which is rare, Nate enjoys spending his time in Lake Austin and eating frozen strawberries.
Donors are the heart and soul of every nonprofit and at Mobile Loaves & Fishes, I am blessed to visit with dedicated and loyal supporters all who believe in the mission to bring uncompromising love and support to the homeless in our community. I can’t think of a better job in the world then to simply go to work every day to say, “thank you- you make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.”
I came to Mobile Loaves & Fishes after many years of admiring the organization “from a distance”, both as a nonprofit fundraising professional and as a volunteer. In 2003, as a member of the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) board, I helped to create and develop what is known today as BookSpring’s largest fundraiser, The Read-A-Thon and coordinated development activities including fundraising, marketing and website development. I also proudly worked on the 84th Zilker Kite Festival.
My husband Mark and I have two teenagers, Elizabeth and Matthew. I also volunteer with The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Meals on Wheels, IHN, Eanes schools, and the National Charity League.
I am a proud Aggie and am committed to converting the Mobile Loaves & Fishes Offices to deep Maroon sometime in the near future
Before I started working for Mobile Loaves & Fishes, I had been unemployed for a year and a half. After about a year and four months our savings had depleted. By this time we had already learned to live without all the extras. A couple of months after, it was through the Holy Spirit that brought me to Mobile Loaves & Fishes.
As far as I can remember, my passion in life has been to help others. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from, their race, etc. Everyone is equal, someone may have a better education or make more money, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. We are all equal and we should help and lift our brothers and sisters in need. This is exactly what Mobile Loaves & Fishes is about and I thank God daily for allowing me to serve in this ministry.
As I ponder back on my over 57 years here on this earth I can see quite clearly the many times God has spoken to me and sadly the many times I refused to listen. But there was this one time with my best friend and wife Tricia present along with a good friend when I heard about this ministry in Corpus Christi, Texas where on cold winter nights multiple churches would come together and pool their resources to take out to the folks who lived on the streets. Then KABOOM!, there it was this image of a catering truck as a distribution vehicle from those of us who have abundance to those who lacked abundance. Thirteen years later I can clearly see God’s providential hand in each and every aspect of this ministry; from the over 16,000 volunteers to the extraordinary staff here at Mobile Loaves & Fishes.
Most importantly, God blessed me with my best friend and wife Tricia. We have been married for over 27 years and we have lived in the same home for those 27 years. We have four beautiful children Decker, Taylor, Marlee and Keaton and a wonderful niece Samantha who we were blessed to include into our family. At the moment we have three dogs, one cat, four chickens and a bunch of wildlife around our home. We would probably have more pets but the coyotes keep our population in check in our neighborhood.
In June 2013, I learned of Mobile Loaves and Fishes when my church small group visited the Community First Demonstration site. It was at that presentation that I realized the impact service by MLF had on the Austin area and other areas around the country. I retired from a career in Medical Education and a second career Historic Preservation and settled in Austin to be near family. Since moving to Austin in 2012, my goal was to find work serving others in ways that provided for their basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. I feel blessed to work for Mobile Loaves and Fishes. We not only serve the homeless through food, clothing and shelter programs, but do so within a ministry of loving hearts, prayer, and dignity. I am thankful for the opportunity to provide office support for the staff, volunteers and those we serve.
I am so thrilled to be a part of the MLF Team! I never dreamed God would lead me here but thankfully He has. I believe strongly in helping all people, but especially those who could be described in the Bible as “needy” and “oppressed.” As a follower of Christ, not only do I feel called to serve others, but I also love it! So, to get to be a part of an organization that is helping and loving so many in our community is a true honor and privilege! AND, I know that God will teach and grow me along the way. My hope is to be used by Him and that His love, light and hope will be reflected through me. I can’t believe this is what I get to do for my “job”!
The thought of homeless people was a thought that was in the way back of my mind originally. I knew that it was a problem in our country that needed to be addressed, but it never hit with me on a level of active action. Then when I met with Alan and MLF I was introduced to the working ground floor of “action”. I knew that this was a great ministry that was serving the least of our people, but my thought of “action” was still misguided. I thought that it would be the the normal serving of homeless, giving them food, clothes, and shelter. And yes, we do this, but I found out that it is MUCH more than that. We are in the business of truly serving the least of God’s people in every since of the word “serve”. Not with the tangible material things, but with our whole hearts. I found myself in the middle of this homeless and home-full group of people that have transformed my perspective of this community. I got to know this group of people on a level that I did not know I was going to see. I found that our community is full of loving, caring, selfless, wonderful people that would help others before they would help themselves. This is the reason I have found myself personally growing in my view of seeing people for who they are and not just meaningless crap that I originally thought was important. I now have a new adopted family in the form of our ever growing community along with our incredible staff of people that are one of the most accepting and loving group of people I have ever encountered.