Formerly homeless man now helps others

January 29, 2009 (CHICAGO) When the weather is severely cold, somehow being homeless makes it colder. But, in Uptown, there is a warm place called the Peoples Church and there is a food program operated by Isaac Barrantine, who was once homeless himself until he turned his life around.

"I was addicted for about 30 years to alcohol, crack cocaine for about 20 years, and when I got here all of that led me to become homeless. And I was homeless for about seven years," said Barrantine.

Four days each week, 600 to 700 people find a free meal here. The program, called 2 Li'l Fishes, served barbecued ribs, macaroni and cheese, bread, corn and juice today.

"You don't have to be out there to the elements that's not good for you outside, so this place is God sent," said Justine Jones, program participant.

"Very nice spot. People help you, feed you. Got a problem, they make a solution for you," said Haji Bashir, program participant.

"When your stomach is empty, you come here to get warm, get satisfied, get full. Makes me glad they have places like this," said Cindy Pritchard, program participant.

This facility is critically important to the homeless population in Uptown because it is one of only two shelters in the community.

There is always a need for donations and volunteers. Barrantine's job is to solicit both. Last year he raised $52,000 to fund the meal program

"We don't promise these people housing," said Barrantine. "I do promise them a safe place where they can sit down and eat...I do promise them we can enhance their life one plate at a time. That's what we do. "

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