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Couple works to help homeless population during coronavirus pandemic

Ben and Tanya Graham own a store off Auburn Avenue, near the same streets where Ben used to live himself when he was homeless.

ATLANTA — Each day brings a new opportunity for Ben and Tanya Graham to spread hope.

The Atlanta couple is working to make sure a vulnerable population isn't forgotten during the coronavirus pandemic.

"This service is pretty much needed all over," said Ben.

The Grahams own a store off Auburn Avenue. It's near the same streets where Ben used to live himself when he was homeless.

Now they're working to make sure others who have nowhere to go are getting information about COVID-19 as well as food, supplies, and some much-needed love.

"We take food out during lunch and also during the evening time to cover dinner," said Tanya.

The couple launched their mobile response unit to fight homelessness, addiction and mental illness in the streets of Atlanta just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Comedian Steve Harvey wrapped their truck after hearing Ben's story of going from being homeless to a business owner. 

11Alive featured Ben Graham's story back in 2017. 

Ben also goes by "Big Mouth Ben," sharing his story with others of how he dropped out of the University of Georgia, wound up living on the streets, and later turned his life around before becoming a business owner near those same streets.

It's that life journey that's motivated the Grahams to continue their efforts even as COVID-19 spreads throughout the nation making their work that much more important.

"This population does not have access to TV like so many other people do. A lot of them don’t even know what’s going on, and the capacity of it, and how serious it is. So, you have a community that not only doesn’t have the resources, but they also are left behind in that way of having that knowledge," said Tanya.

In addition to their mobile unit, the Grahams' store off Auburn Avenue is serving as a grab-and-go location for those in need to pick up food and other items like wipes and sanitizer.

The couple works to maintain social distancing using gloves and masks.

Still, despite the precautions they're now having to take, they believe our communities will come back stronger and more unified. But it'll take us all being concerned about one another.

"We’re trying to look out for us and our families,” said Ben. “But it’s so important for us to think of others that may be forgotten and going are through this."

The Grahams are operating on donations and help from other organizations like Partners for Home as well as churches, local businesses and volunteers. 

The Grahams also have a website where you can find out how to help them through and their organization Motivation Forward.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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