Twenty-three years ago, Teresa “Lady T” Hamilton woke up in the middle of the night with a message from God to feed His people. The next day, she closed her business to start Lady T’s Homeless Ministry.
Standing at less than 5 feet tall, Lady T dedicates her life to serving hot, homemade meals out of her SUV to almost 1,000 homeless people a week. She wakes up at 1 a.m. every morning for devotion then begins cooking around 4 a.m. The rest of her day is spent driving to the homeless on the street, in the woods, in parks, or in shelters.
“I’m not trying to fix homelessness,” Lady T said. “The only thing I’m trying to do is give them basic necessities that they need to make it through, in hopes that a light will go off in their head.”
Her life transformed after visiting Nigeria and Nicaragua in 2000 and observing how many people were starving. When returning from her trip, she said she never noticed how many homeless and hungry people there are in Georgia.
At first, she fed up to 200 people a week until the pandemic started. Then, this number tripled, she said. Lady T’s Homeless Ministry also provides blankets, toiletries and more.
“I am not trying to find them a house, an apartment, a car, or anything like that,” Lady T said. “What I am trying to do is give you a coat when you’re cold, feed you when you’re hungry and give you a band-aid if you’re cut.”
Rev. Megan Johnson of Clairmont Presbyterian Church has known Lady T for years. As one of the many churches in support of Lady T’s Homeless Ministry, Johnson believes Lady T brings value to the whole community by teaching you to see people. You cannot work a day with her and not be changed, she said.
“Everything she does communicates that we are not here to give you table scraps, we’ve made a meal for you and there is a place at the table for you,” Johnson said.
Lady T changes lives in more ways than hunger. She shared a story of how a man approached her, telling her over a year ago he was struggling with drugs and alcohol. Back then, he was sitting on a curb when Lady T approached him with some soup and a bottle of water, telling him to eat and drink while praying over him. When she left, he got up and went straight to rehab. Now, a year and a half later he has met a good woman, has a job and a baby on the way.
“The people on the street, that’s my family,” Lady T said. “Those are my children and I make sure whatever they need and I make sure they get it, even if it comes out of my pocket.”
As a pillar of the community, it is hard to not know the name of Lady T. Allison Spangler, who lives in Decatur, says Lady T helps put a face on the homeless population. For people who cannot go out themselves, they can contribute in other ways to support her work, she said.
“The food is important, but I think it’s the human connection that she has with people that make people know she is not there to make herself feel good or to make herself look good,” Spangler said.
Run by just Lady T and a few volunteers, she stays until everyone has a meal. Rain, sleet, or snow, Lady T and her team are out in the streets advocating for those in need.
Lady T is always seeking donations and volunteers to continue doing her work. To get involved, you can visit her website to find out what donation items are being collected. She also accepts financial contributions through Cash App.
The Everyday Heroes project is a partnership between Fresh Take Georgia, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other newsrooms in Georgia.