The Mary Renault Society

The Triangle Area of North Carolina

Speaker: Hugh Hollowell

Hugh HollowellOur speaker for April, Hugh Hollowell, for years was a financial planner and for a short stint the owner of a used bookstore in Memphis, Tenn. He came to Raleigh in 2007 as a pastor newly ordained in the Mennonite tradition. The former Marine saw the Triangle as a place to try out ideas about dealing with homelessness.

The first few years in Raleigh, Pastor Hollowell had no funding and no official organization. He worked at freelance jobs and spent the rest of his time in Moore Square, getting to know the people that congregate there. By 2010, he had the financial backing to create a $20,000-a-year organization, Love Wins Ministries, where he became the executive director of The Love Wins Community Engagement Center. Since then, more churches have backed his unique model for helping the homeless and needy.

Homelessness is the focus of this ministry; in a blog, he observes “we had this crazy idea that if you treat people like people, then they act like people. And…we had learned that what people who are experiencing homelessness really need is a place to belong, not a place to tell them what to do. So we have worked to create that place… We invite people to come into our lives and our spaces, not to convert them to our side or to change them, but to create free space where we can become friends with each other based on who we each are – not who we wish they were.”

Love Wins is one of a number of nonprofits that help feed the homeless near Moore Square on weekends.

In August 24, 2013, he and volunteers were downtown in Moore Square serving breakfast to the homeless.  “This morning we showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years,” the ministry’s pastor and director, Rev. Hugh Hollowell, wrote in a blog post.  This time, however, police stopped the handout, citing a rule for city parks that prohibits the distribution of food without a permit.

Publicity was instant, sparking a conversation about how to help a conversation about how – and where – to help the less fortunate as downtown Raleigh grows.  Learn what the outcomes were.


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