Cancelled Wedding Becomes Celebration for Atlanta’s Homeless

Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help people who need it even more. “It’s better to give than to receive,” says Atlanta man Willie Fowler.

Thanks to him and his wife Carol, a self-described regular, working couple, 200 homeless people in Atlanta enjoyed a four-course dinner — plus hors d’oeuvres and desserts – in a beautiful restaurant. Each place was set with gold plates and crystal glasses.

The Fowlers’ generosity was an innovative approach to a personal dilemma. They had booked a “creme de la creme wedding venue” when their daughter, Tamara, got engaged. As anyone who has planned a fancy American wedding has already guessed, they had to put down a sizable and nonrefundable deposit.

Then Tamara cancelled the nuptials.

Rather than cancelling the banquet and losing their deposit, the Fowlers decided to put it to good use by inviting homeless people to the fete.

The family contacted Hosea Feed the Hungry, an organization Tamara and her brother had volunteered for, which got the word out and brought in the guests, including many children. A clown, face-painting, and other events kept the kids busy when they weren’t eating.

Homeless children are not hard to find in Atlanta. More children live in poverty there “than anywhere else in the entire country,” Hosea reports. Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, says that “70 percent of the homeless in Atlanta are children.” About 1.6 million kids are homeless nationwide.

Their plight usually isn’t the fault of shiftless parents. Blame it instead on low-wage jobs, because 40 to 60 percent of homeless people work.

The Fowlers’ acknowledgement of the dignity of people without homes is an invigorating break from the nationwide campaign to strip the homeless of their possessions, food and even liberty, and to treat them like criminals for blameless behavior.

The Fowlers could inspire similar events across the country. “Thousands of weddings are cancelled every year,” according to WBUR’s Robin Young.

The Fowlers themselves aren’t done. They called the reception the “First Annual Fowler Family Celebration of Love” and plan to hold a similar event next year, but they envision something even bigger. They are looking for sponsors to help foot the bill. Hosea CEO Elizabeth Omilami loves the idea. “People found out that somebody cares about them,” she said, “and that’s worth more than any cash we could have given them.”

Slideshows of the event are available at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Related Stories:

Feeding the Homeless in Raleigh, North Carolina Could Get You Arrested

Can Homeless People Own Anything?

Why Miami Wants to Treat the Homeless Like Criminals

Police Chief Refuses to Treat Homeless People Like Criminals, Despite New Law


Photo credit: Thinkstock/iStock


Donna Ferguson
Donna F5 years ago

now, that's class!

Mac C.
mac C5 years ago

I love that the mother, father, and daughter felt a "different type of joy" that day they gave the homeless a grand dinner celebration. They made a special day for the children too. Wonderful that they will try to keep it up annually--- also like their idea of coupling the dinner with an education feature. A special light will shine on Willie and Carol Fowler and all that they do. Thanks for the inspirational post.

Nathalie T.
Nathalie T5 years ago

That's just amazing!! God bless the Fowlers family!! Hope others get inspired by this and does the same. Thanks for sharing.

Deborah W.
Deborah W5 years ago

Unconditional, straight from the heart ... for a greater good than self. This type of love opens the door to endless possibilities ... if not overtaken with the abuse and deceit which so often intrudes and depletes goodness. KUDIS FOR CARING/SHARING.

Campus Kitchens and other groups also operate on this theme of giving but never get highlighted. Lots of good left in the world, too bad it's not sensational enough for exposure..

christina rivers
christina r5 years ago

The world always need beautiful people like you. You are such loving, caring and generous people. I truly hope that "God" or Karma pays you back because of your kindness. You are the kind of people that make our world better. I wish there were more beautiful, selfless people like you. It would make the world a better place, not a perfect place because there is still lots to fix but at least it starts with one good notion at a time. Thank you for that.

Myriam G.
Myriam G5 years ago

Thank you so much, Willie and Carol Fowler! This is certainly the best way anyone can think of turning things around. I wish all the best to the "Fowler Family Celabration of Love". May it go on for years!

ivan s.
ivan shelley5 years ago

Now this is a truly inspiring article which just goes to show that there are still decent people out there in this beautiful earth of ours. To The FOWLERS GOD BLESS YOU for this unconditional sporadic form of love towards your fellow beings . I just hope there are more people like the FOWLERS .

Toshilemla Longkumer

Such kind and generous people.
May God bless them abundantly for the kind act.

Lynn C.
Past Member 5 years ago

What a beautiful idea and how gracious these people are! Truly hope this idea catches on all over this me-me-me country.

Dan Eversham-Matthews
Past Member 5 years ago

So beautiful. I hope it does inspire others, not only with events, but with understanding, empathy and acknowledging dignity to all, rather than hasty, ill-informed and judgmental conclusions.