Editor’s Note: This story is the part of our Pioneer series, Heroes Among Us. Do you know someone who should be featured? Let us know at email@example.com. Include their name and contact info.
CONCORD, CA (Jan. 22, 2022) — It’s 6:10 a.m. at the Best Little Donut House in Town. Patrons on their way to BART and various work locales begin to stream in to purchase their round delicacies and a cup of java.
Inside the shop, proprietors Gene and Hypay serve a clientele that has supported the business at 1821 East St. in Concord for over a third of a century.
Scattered among their customers are a few of Concord’s homeless looking forward to a snack and a warm drink following a night living in the streets. When it is time to pay, a notation is made at the counter while those in need leave the shop with a welcome pick-me-up in hand.
Neither the 40-some people with their free snacks nor the shop owners pay. Local philanthropist Jack Fliehmann compensates the donut shop for its early morning homeless business.
According to Fliehmann, even with the discount received, it costs him about $500 per week to support this program. Most of the expense comes out of his own pocket although donations from community members and organizations help out.
Money well spent
Despite the high cost, Fliehmann feels the money is well spent. “Having a choice creates self-esteem more than just receiving handouts from the government”
The free donuts and coffee at The Best Little Donut House are but a small part of what Jack and his wife, Debbie, have been doing for the community for the past two years. Every day 7-days a week the two prepare 90 meals which they deliver to different local homeless encampments.
In recognition of their work, the Fliehmanns were recently awarded the prestigious Jefferson Award by KPIX TV in San Francisco. They were not expecting the honor. “I hope winning the Jefferson helps with the local community to bring more attention to the plight of those we serve.”
“Serving the homeless is gladly done as we are being directed from above to help these needy people.”
His day starts before 4 a.m. when he prepares, hot oatmeal, juice, and breakfast bars which are delivered prior to sunrise. Later in the morning he cooks a hot lunch which is dispatched to grateful recipients around noon.
He provides quality ingredients by avoiding dated or stale food.
Tucked into each meal is a handwritten short quotation from a Bible verse.
In addition to distributing the meals, Fliehmann accepts donations of clothing, shoes, socks, toiletries and other necessities which are given to their grateful clients. Most of these items are donated by churches, civic organizations and individuals even though the Fliehmann’s have declined to set up a formal non-profit which would allow a tax deduction.
“We don’t want to be serving under government regulations and guidelines as this might hinder our mission” Fliehmann says.
For more information or to donate to their cause, reach the Fliehmanns at firstname.lastname@example.org