Gio Andollo

... first became concerned about the poor during a "choir tour" trip to Chicago in the ninth grade. Having grown up in the suburbs of Miami, he had been sheltered from the reality of the poor even in his own city. He was taken to Willow Creek Church, where he heard Christian speaker Shane Claiborne address the problem of homelessness in nearby Chicago. Gio's group was asked whether they would be willing to sacrifice a pair of shoes, that the shoes would then go to a pair of feet with greater need.

As Gio walked about Chicago, he saw homeless people sleeping on the street, in alleys, under stairwells. His social consciousness was changed forever.

In the fall of 2004 he moved to Orlando to study at UCF and quickly became involved with the young adult ministry of Discovery Church, called Status. A year later he joined a discipleship group with other Status-goers who sought to follow in the way and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth ever more closely. They began to make regular visits to downtown Orlando to serve the people there on Saturday nights - evangelical street preachers, clubbers, police, and the homeless. As Gio's heart caught on fire for the homeless downtown, he began to see that he really could not understand their needs and their plight if he did not first experience it for himself.

So in March 2006, he spent a week sleeping on the streets of downtown Orlando and blogging extensively about his experience. During this week he learned much about homeless life and the needs of the poor. He proceeded to serve them with more effectiveness, love, and grace. He has since partnered with several different organizations in Orlando and New York City, especially Food Not Bombs and Home Sweet Homeless.

As he is not currently and actively involved with homeless outreach, he sees every individual encounter with the homeless as a chance to minister, serve, love, learn, and grow. Since he moved to NYC, he has written many poems and even recorded some songs about homeless people he has met and about homelessness in general. He plans to publish and release his homeless blogs and other writings on homelessness in March 2011.