When Mobile Loaves & Fishes isn’t out in the streets of Austin serving up meals to the homeless, they’re cultivating community and dignity for the chronically homeless with Community First! Village. What began as a small food truck operation eventually scaled into a large RV park and is now a full-blown neighborhood in East Austin. Their plan? To give people the opportunity to really start over. With food and a place to live but, more importantly, with a dignified income and a true community to have an honest chance at a new life. Now with over 140 tiny homes, a working farm, a 400-seat cinema and amphitheater donated by Alamo Drafthouse, a bed and breakfast, an art house, and a market, Community First! Village is thriving. As co-founder and CEO Alan Graham says, “it was a mustard seed of an idea…”
The Community Cinema has become a place where film and people can come together at Austin’s newest and most exciting outdoor venue. With room for hundreds, the cinema hosts weekly movie nights every Friday as well as private events. When you pack your blanket or chairs and head out to Community First! Village, you’re doing more than seeing a movie. You’re experiencing a movement that provides a new way of life to the residents at Community First! Village. You will see how the village operates with an opportunity to tour the grounds and visit with residents before the film. While the movie showing is free, the Community Grille is always up and running with burgers, milkshakes, and other concessions along with a fire to make s’mores. All concession funds and tips from this venture go back to the neighbors in the village—providing them with income and purpose day-in and day-out.
Alan is working with his team at Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Community First! Village to create a paradigm shift—a movement to eradicate homelessness altogether. Curing homelessness is not fixed by simply providing food and shelter. The team at Mobile Loaves & Fishes fundamentally believes that by providing a place to belong, a purpose, and a community of people to love, those that have suffered a lifetime on the streets can come out of homelessness and into a sustainable fresh start. Each neighbor has their own remarkable story about finding hope and dignity in their new life—an opportunity that Alan, his team, volunteers, and donors have been able to provide. Neighbors in the village are finding purpose through working in the garden, blacksmithing, woodworking in the Community Cinema, and the Community Grille. Each of these opportunities puts neighbors on a path toward social contribution, financial stability, and a mastery of skills.
Gather your group and head out to the village for one of their many upcoming movie nights all listed at www.mlf.org. Community First! Village is located at 9301 Hog Eye Road. You can get involved with Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Community First! Village by volunteering for truck runs, donating, visiting their outdoor cinema, and buying concessions or touring the property with your friends. Learn more at www.mlf.org