LBW Awareness Panel (College Students & Homelessness)

On Oct 22, 2021, we had our first small live recording for an awareness panel on the relationship between College Students & Homelessness.

This educational panel was moderated by Dr. Vonnetta West and included brilliant insights from Kennesha Smith (Ph.D. Candidate), Angelique Niare (Educator & Advocate), and Terence Lester (Founder of LBW).

This coming year, we are going to release many educational resources and training to reframe the homelessness narrative. This live recording will be made public next week. Check it out below.

LBW Awareness Panel (College Students & Homelessness) from Love Beyond Walls on Vimeo.

Open Apology to People Experiencing Homelessness During Covid-19

What breaks your heart?

If you have a heartbeat, you’ve experienced heartache.

Maybe it was a disappointment or a loss.

Maybe it was self-inflicted due to a bad decision.

Maybe it was the pain of a relationship.

Maybe, in this time of COVID-19, your heartbreak is more apparent than ever.

Or maybe you’re just trying to stay in your lane and survive – focusing on what you’re personally dealing with and trying to keep heartache at bay.

Whether constantly on your mind or pushed to the corners, we have all experienced heartbreak – we all know how it feels to go through a transition.

Most times when we think of heartbreak, we only think of it through a personal lens. So for the sake of this blog and for the pandemic, I would like for you to pause for a moment and consider another type of heartbreak.

Let’s look at it from a different viewpoint.

Let me ask you again.

When you look out into the world during this time, what breaks your heart?

Is it the death toll? Is it the strain on medical professionals? Is it people being kept from their loved ones? Is it loneliness? Is it small businesses everywhere closing and countless people losing their jobs?

It may be one of those, it may be all of them. But what about homelessness? Not just in general but especially at a time like this. Homelessness is an ongoing crisis in our country that is magnified in the current state. And, over the last few decades, the criminalization of homelessness has grown. There are cities that have created laws and ordinances forbidding things like food sharing, sleeping in public places, standing in public places, and even carrying multiple bags at once.

To not have an address also means to be viewed through a lens of disdain and contempt.

Imagine having the fears we all feel on top of not having a home to self-isolate in, or not knowing where your next meal or a safe place to sleep will come from in 30-degree weather.

Imagine having no place to wash your hands or access to a mask for safety.

It breaks my heart to know that cities all around our country have used ‘hostile architecture’ to deter, exclude, and displace people without an address. If you are unaware of what hostile or anti-homeless architecture is, it is a form of architectural design to maintain order. The strategy uses the built environment to discourage people from experiencing homelessness from using public spaces for activities that they were not intended to be used for. We have seen designs where developers have added spikes, benches with bars, and even large rocks or boulders to deter people without homes. There was even a city in Florida that blasted the ‘Shark’ song loudly in a park to prevent sleep.

It is not only cruel, it is cold and lacks empathy for our neighbor. I have said it time and time again. Just because a person does not have an address does not mean that they aren’t our neighbor.

In fact,

On August 6, 2016, the Department of Justice ruled it unconstitutional to prohibit people experiencing homelessness to perform life-sustaining activities when a person has nowhere to go. The brief reads,

“It should be uncontroversial that punishing conduct that is a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human violates the Eighth Amendment. . .  Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity—i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.”

When we deny people experiencing homelessness the right to exist and survive, we threaten and violate their human rights and dehumanize them. Hostile architecture, displacement, and exclusion must stop, and we must protect the whole community – address or not.

Recently, GDOT placed ‘hostile architecture’ underneath a bridge in the heart of the city. This breaks my heart. Why? Because thousands of tax dollars were spent to deter people from living underneath the bridge. Words like heartless, cruel, and even spiteful come to mind when I think about the number of people that have been displaced.

Do I want people to live underneath a bridge forever? No. My heart’s goal is to see people value those living on the streets enough to launch campaigns and political strategies to end homelessness. But, at the moment, I do not think it is wise, ethical, or moral to trash people’s items and displace them for practicing a way to survive.

What would you do if you had nowhere to go? How would you weather the cold or feel safe to look for your next place of rest?

There has been a bed shortage in shelters all around the country long before covid-19, and as one researcher suggests that number will increase in 2021.

The heart of Love Beyond Walls is to ensure that people living on the streets have access to the same basic necessities that everyday people have access to.

In times like these, I am reminded of the words MLK wrote:

“In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

—Letter from Birmingham Jail

But how often are we aware that whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly?

During this pandemic, the most marginalized communities are affected on a deeper level than before, and often times displaced and criminalized more.

We are all tied in that single garment of destiny. What affects our vulnerable brothers and sisters, affects us all.

Therefore, I want to apologize to the community of people that constantly feels invisible and forgotten: whose circumstances have only been exacerbated by current world events and have experienced further dissociation and neglect during the time of COVID-19.

So here goes:

Today, I want to apologize to you if you’re experiencing homelessness and have been judged, overlooked, walked by, and abused by the words of people who have never walked in your shoes.

I apologize that you feel alone and like no one has been there for you during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of thousands.

I apologize for ‘hostile architecture’ and exclusionary practices.

I apologize that shelters where you regularly seek assistance have had to be limited or shut down.

I apologize that we live in a society that looks down on you and deprives you of basic necessities like a bed or sink to wash your hands – especially during a pandemic.

I apologize that you have had to endure social isolation in a magnified way.

I apologize for every single time you reached out and literally got nothing in return.

I apologize that now, more than ever, people are less giving of their resources, human interaction and warmth.

I apologize when people look at you on the side of the road, they lock their doors and ride by.

I apologize that you find yourself isolated, and are unable to trust the outside world.

I apologize that we have overlooked your traumas and judged you when you developed mental health issues and used substances to cope with life.

I apologize for the induced trauma this collective experience will have on you and that there are little to no resources to help you process your trauma.

I apologize that some of us haven’t displayed the same love towards you that we want from God.

I apologize that during this time, especially, some people have shut the world out, leaving you behind.

I apologize that you weren’t given an ample supply of gloves, hand sanitizer, and masks to protect yourself each day.

I apologize that you have to sometimes sleep outside when there are abandoned buildings all around you that could help you – especially since so many hotels are completely vacant.

I apologize that people are hoarding food and toiletries while you may not have eaten in days.

I apologize that the guidelines for staying safe in this crisis immediately exclude you due to your current living situation.

I apologize that large corporations are getting massive bailouts while you can’t even get a hand up.

I apologize we haven’t made you a priority in our country and I apologize if you served in our country but are still struggling to find benefits and housing.

I apologize that we weren’t willing to put in the time, money, and effort for standardized COVID-19 testing for all, including you.

I apologize that just because you don’t have 4 walls to your name, our government makes it all too difficult for you to cast your vote and your voice to be heard.

I apologize that we haven’t allowed your plights to break our hearts to the point where we rise up and say enough is enough.

I apologize and I want you to know that I love you, and there are many others like me out here that love you.

I love you for being brave enough to weather your hardships sometimes with a smile and faith.

I admire you for having the courage to weather poverty especially in the face of COVID-19, with deferred hope.

Today, I am thinking about you and want you to know my heart breaks for this plight. I will continue to fight on your behalf and do all I can to help keep you safe.

This is my apology.

Your friend,

Terence Lester, Founder of Love Beyond Walls

PPE for Essential Workers

Great news! We just forged a partnership with a logistics company here in Atlanta that is going to help us secure KN95 non-medical masks to distribute to people experiencing homelessness and essential workers on the frontlines.

Next week, we should be getting a couple thousand to start helping to protect people.

The CDC has mandated that every single person wears a mask!

Details to follow.

LBW Team

Built First Handwashing Station

Every single day for the last eight days, we have thought of ways to get water to people living on the streets during this crisis, and we found a way to build and assemble portable handwashing stations that hold up to 10 gallons of water.

This week, we are starting to plant these around the city for people who will be on the streets the entire length of the shutdown (regardless of spaces being open).

Every news report we’ve read said that we must wash our hands, but what does this mean for people experiencing homelessness?

What happens when you have no access to water, restaurants won’t allow you to come into them, and people already overlook you every single day—you become more prone to catch the #CONVID-19 virus.

Call me (Terence) whatever you’d like but @lovebeyondwalls is on the move with extreme caution with a few friends and partners. Video to follow.

It costs about $100 dollars to build these, you can give by clicking the link in our bio and clicking “handwashing stations donation”


Handwashing Stations

We took this picture of Daniel’s hands!

Every news report we’ve read said that we must wash our hands, but what does this mean for people experiencing homelessness?

What happens when you have no access to water, restaurants won’t allow you to come into them, and people already overlook you every single day—you become more prone to catch the #CONVID-19 virus.

People experiencing homelessness have been wrestling with social distancing way before this virus, and we plan to respond in a very basic way.

This week we’re partnering with with a few cool people to ensure our friends have constant access to water by setting up handwashing stations around the city.

Each station will cost about $100 build to dispense soap & water (and they will be self-contained). If you would like to contribute anything to this project click the button below.

We will keep you posted as we seek to build these so people who choose to remain in encampments will have access to basic water and soap.

Our goal is 20 stations! Thanks so much!


Drumroll please….

Over the last month, many people have wondered what we are doing with the shipping container we purchased as an organization.

We’ll after years of advocating for those experiencing homelessness, we have decided to do something disruptive to ensure people that are being displaced all over the country are never forgotten.

Therefore, we are launching the first museum for homelessness and poverty by converting a shipping container into a immersirve space that will travel and educate people about a issue that should be addressed in our country.

We are calling it, “Dignity Museum.”


The Dignity Museum will create an interactive experience for visitors to immerse themselves in the stories of those experiencing poverty and homelessness.

More than 1 million people are homeless in the United States, a quarter of those being children. Historically, homelessness has been viewed as a character flaw, a personality defect to be looked down on. Many of those experiencing homelessness have not been given an opportunity for another option.

Homelessness is systemic, generational, and often times as a result of long-held misconceptions about those experiencing the plight. Their lives are overlooked on street corners, under bridges, and on metal bunk beds in shelters across the country.

The Dignity Museum shares the stories of the forgotten, while presenting the unjust causes for the disparity in resource allocation. The stories of those who were born into poverty, those who became homeless as adults, the kids holding cardboard signs at the stoplight, and their collective fight to beat their circumstances.

Through interactive technology, research, storytelling, exhibits, and thought-provoking questions, visitors will confront their ideas of homelessness and what it takes to escape it.

The museum is designed to take the guest through a journey to promote a hopeful future of equality, opportunity, and justice.

Going Deeper:

Dignity Museum is the first of its kind in Atlanta. This innovative, living museum aims to help Atlantans and national tourists understand the suffering and struggle that many people face that are experiencing homelessness and those who face extreme poverty.

More importantly, Dignity Museum seeks to offer an up close and real view of the conditions in which people live in a way to create empathy and action among those who do not understand the reality of poverty.

Incorporating videography, Dignity Museum’s curated content will capture people caught in the rawness of their struggle in a way that gives them a voice and honors their journey as humans.

Follow our pages on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and watch our video below:

Dignity Museum – Love Beyond Walls from Love Beyond Walls on Vimeo.

To contribute to this project and help us raise the last $6,000 we need to finish our project click [HERE]


The Countdown Begins!

Today, I took another leap of faith as a social impact leader. We purchased a 40FT Shipping Container to create something that doesn’t exist in Atlanta or around the country. I feel all of the vulnerability that you have in starting a new project. Why? Because this will be our biggest and most meaningful conversion project to date. However, I’m being driven by two things:

Firstly, I’m being driven by the fact that there are many people suffering and need honest advocacy. Second and last, I’m being driven because I know this is what God would have us do to take #lovebeyondwalls

Excited to share the details soon. The countdown just got real.