On a cold winter day over twelve years ago, Fred McDowell, Jr. was driving along Crittenden Drive in Louisville when he spotted a man walking down the road with no coat. Fred pulled his car over, took off his own coat and gave it to the man. It was a natural instinct for Fred, Senior Pastor of Truth Baptist Church in Radcliff, Kentucky, and it inspired him to do more.
Fred speaks lovingly of his wife Lillian, his four children, and eleven grandchildren. He has studied at Simmons College of Kentucky and served as a missionary to Louisville’s homeless populations every Friday night for the last several years. Fred personally delivers hygiene products and food, often cooking the meals himself.
Fred also works full time for Raytheon Technologies in Louisville, who have contributed generously to assist Fred in his efforts. Fellow employees participated in a personal hygiene shoebox ministry that not only helped the homeless but also built morale in the workplace. When Fred is able to work overtime at Raytheon, he donates that overtime pay to feed the homeless. As little as $40-$50 can feed an entire camp. In the event of their relocation by city authorities, Fred leaves his contact information in the camps so that he can continue to serve them as they are displaced.
On a larger scale, Fred partners with Sidewalk Servants Homeless Outreach of Louisville under the leadership of Mellanie Hunter. Last year they provided over 400 Thanksgiving meals and collected over 1300 coats and 500 blankets. Sidewalk Servants have always used some level of personal protective equipment when serving the homeless to guard against possible transmission of hepatitis or HIV. But because the coronavirus is so highly contagious and much more easily contracted, they have had to incorporate social distancing measures. Food and hygiene products are left with no more hugs exchanged or shaking of hands. But Fred will still pray with people at a safe distance.
His work with the homeless is challenging, but rewarding. Fred says, “It just melts me,” when he delivers to someone who shares that they had just been praying for food or certain personal hygiene items. Not letting them down is Fred’s motivation to continue so tirelessly. “My truck gets loaded with supplies. When I leave, it’s empty. That’s the best feeling.” For information on how you can help, visit facebook.com/sidewalkservants502/ or contact Fred at [email protected]