Taos Wynn, founder of the nonprofit Perfect Love Foundation, gives a sack lunch and a hygiene kit to a homeless man in downtown Atlanta. Distributing food is one of many acts of kindness the foundation does on a regular basis. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This Life: Motivated by love, millennial-fueled nonprofit takes action

Taos Wynn sat on a Haitian rooftop, surveying the damage to the impoverished Caribbean nation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, thinking.

In just seven days on the island, he’d seen more poverty, more suffering than he cared to remember.

As he recorded his thoughts on the pages of his journal that hot summer day in 2013, he thought of his hometown. He’d seen the twin challenges of poverty and hunger here in Atlanta, too.

It was in that moment, during yet another mission trip, Wynn said, that he had a compelling feeling to do something more at home, more with an idea he had but had abandoned for two years.

“I didn’t know what that would translate into or how to start, but I had the heart to serve,” he said.

Indeed.

Wynn, 32, had grown up watching his parents, Army veteran Raymond and Elaine Wynn, help and encourage others, fulfilling what they believed was God’s call to love their fellow man.

And so no matter the military base, the Wynn home was often chock-full of neighbors, kids in particular, who were welcome at the kitchen table for mentoring sessions and on family outings.

“They always demonstrated a willingness to help others the best they could,” he said.

RELATED: Veteran civil rights attorney providing clean water, life to Haiti

Back at home, Wynn and a small group of friends decided it was time they did the same. They gathered in his family’s kitchen, assembled 20 sandwiches and hit the streets of Atlanta in search of homeless men and women in need of a meal.

Taos Wynn shares a light moment with two young volunteers writing love notes to the homeless. Wynn is founder of the nonprofit Perfect Love Foundation. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“We just wanted to do good,” he said.

The opportunity was vast. With a heart big enough to match the need, Taos Wynn decided to stay the course, to seek nonprofit status for the Perfect Love Foundation, the organization he’d conceived two years earlier, and live out his passion for people.

In 2014, he won that approval. Taos Wynn has been committed to the call to help, ever since.

By provoking people to love, he believes he and his team of millennials can create a better future for all of us.

“I really believe that love is the solution for a lot of what we see now,” he said.

That includes the hatred, the political division, and yes, even the effects of poverty.

Perfect Love Foundation volunteers distribute water and other items to the homeless. The nonprofit was founded by 32-year-old Taos Wynn of Atlanta. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Our volunteers are on fire to help people,” he said.

The foundation’s volunteers are largely made up of a band of millennials, that generation of people who like Wynn were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, people who are often thought of as narcissistic, individualistic and self-absorbed.

“We’re challenging that norm and reshaping that image of millennials,” Wynn said with a twinkle in his eye. “Everyone helps. We help differently.”

If millennials are the engine of the foundation, S.O.S. or what Wynn calls love of self, love of others, and love of service is the fuel propelling it forward.

“Everything we do is rooted in love,” he said.

RELATED: Opening doors for metro Atlanta’s homeless

What exactly do they do?

Well, they still pass out sandwiches to the homeless, although on a much larger scale. They collect and donate hygiene kits for the homeless and disaster relief efforts. They host game days at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Quarterly, they recognize outstanding citizens who exemplify exceptional service to their communities. And as often as they feel needed, they stand in the gap, advocating for people they believe have little to no voice.

When the Georgia Senate was working to pass a sex trafficking bill, Perfect Love volunteers showed up, adding their voice to the debate and supporting the creation of a hotline for victims. More recently, they created the Unify Georgia initiative, which worked to bring people together in support of racial and gender equality and to stand against discrimination.

The initiative was recognized March 9 as an official day in the Capitol.

Each week, Gracie Bonds Staples will bring you a perspective on life in the Atlanta area. Life with Gracie runs online Tuesday, Thursday and alternating Fridays.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By fall, Wynn said, they plan to launch Leading Hope, a program focused on encouraging middle school students to reach their full potential.

“We really want to disrupt negative cycles of insecurity and poverty,” Wynn said. “We call it a movement to encourage academic excellence and empower students to become leaders for community and generational change.”

Last year, Taos Wynn, a 2009 graduate of Emory University, was named the 2017 Millennial of the Year and a recipient of the Outstanding Georgia Citizen Award, one of the highest honors given by the state of Georgia.

You can see why.

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