Local crusader believes in a ‘Hand Up’ for all who need it.

By Katie Parsons

John Mandala believes that people are the most valuable resource. As the development officer for the nonprofit group Breathing Space, he looks for ways to give people who need it a “hand up” not a “hand out.” These people often include the homeless, veterans and ex-prisoners.

“I live by the credo that for those who are given much, much is required,” Mandala said. “In my own life, this is true. And I come across so many others who just need that extra sense of purpose.”

For six months, Mandala operated a food truck at the Suntree Business Center during lunch hours called Chef John’s Red Wagon BBQ that prepared fresh food daily, and asked patrons to pay what they felt was fair. If a person needing a meal had no way to pay for it, Mandala asked for an hour of volunteer time instead.

“It is amazing what asking someone to do a small task can do for their self-esteem, especially when they feel like they have nothing to give,” Mandala said.

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