Help the homeless

This simple goal moves BR Humanist Movement during holidays

It’s all about the smiles.

“Our goal is to put the smiles on the people’s faces,” Jermaine Hughes said.

Hughes, his fiancée Candace Miller, and Miller’s best friend, Michelle Miglin, all of Walker, along with a few volunteers, mostly their children, are the Baton Rouge Humanist Movement. The group’s goal is simple: to help the homeless.

This holiday, they’ll be providing Christmas presents and more to residents at the Reality House in Baton Rouge, and to a family of six in Walker.

The Humanist Movement sprung almost three years ago from Miller and Miglin’s “couponing gone wild,” one could say.

“My best friend and I had started couponing, and we wound up with like 300 Powerades in the house,” Miller said. “And it was summertime, so we decided to go out and bring our kids, we all have teenagers, to show them, you know, sometimes they fuss about what they don’t have. So we went and passed out stuff the first time, which gave me a good idea of other things that people might need.”

Living in Baton Rouge then, the group noticed some homeless people hanging out across the street from the Greyhound bus terminal downtown, and distributed the drinks there. They returned to the same spot at a later date, bringing more items and a few more volunteers.

“And I met this one that day (motioning to Hughes),” Miller said, “and he was actually living under a bridge. He was one of the people we helped that day.”

Romanced blossomed, the two are engaged, and now Hughes, who was homeless for about two months, has the unique perspective of having been on the receiving and giving ends of the group.

“My best friend still coupons for me,” Miller said, “so whatever we don’t get in donations, we go purchase — care bags of shampoos, soaps, washcloths.”

Miller is a trained biohazard technician who’s now self-employed, cleaning homes of hoarders and houses damaged by fire and/or smoke. Hughes is a carpenter by trade, and assists Miller with her house calls.

Saturday, the group returned to the Reality House with some holiday cheer. Miller said the group found this recovery house for women last year, and has made a few distribution trips there.

The women are allowed to have their children with them while they go through anger management courses, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or other recovery programs.

“We’ll have care packages for the moms, toys for the kids, and infant and toddler car seats, and baby clothes for the pregnant women,” Miller said.

The Walker family adopted by the group has a surprise coming their way on Monday. They’ll be bringing the four children toys for Christmas, and, hopefully, something for mom and dad, too.

“They have no idea,” Miller and Hughes said, smiles breaking out across their faces.

The group has received some cash donations, including $100 from Cajun Mat in Gonzales; in addition to clothes, toiletries from the Baker Civic Club, and other items.

News of the group’s work has spread through word of mouth among their friends, friends of friends and their Facebook page.

“Other people want to give, they just don’t know how to give,” Hughes said. “The group is for people to have a path to travel to help people .... it just rubs off on the people we come in contact with. It’s not for any glory or fame. We’re doing this honestly, from the heart.

“We tell everybody: It only takes a little while and you could be faced with the same decision. By me having that experience, I met enough people to know they just need a hand, and sometimes they need a hand again. If only one person gets right, it was worth it.”

To donate to or volunteer with the Baton Rouge Humanist Movement, contact them on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Baton-Rouge-Humanist-Movement/265081356937890