Dallas

16-Year-Old Starts Nonprofit to Help People Experiencing Homelessness

Armando Parrish was inspired by his relationship with a homeless man in Dallas

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A North Texas 16-year-old started the nonprofit Project Lorenzo with the goal to help people experiencing homelessness get off the streets permanently.

Homelessness is a problem that's plagued the city of Dallas for years.

Often a product of numerous, complex overlapping problems, it’s one a North Texas teen is taking on one person at a time.

“It's the right thing to do. I mean, why not? It’s what we're supposed to do,” 16-year-old Armando Parrish said.

Years ago, Parrish met a man experiencing homelessness named Lorenzo, who lives under a bridge at U.S. 75 and Coit Road.

Lorenzo, 63, experienced homelessness for more than 20 years, Parrish said and became a familiar face and friend of Parrish’s mom, Gina Tedesco, who worked near the intersection.

“If you ask what he needs, it’s always razers or some water or a blanket, never money. No drugs. No alcohol,” Tedesco said.

Earlier this year, Parrish started a fundraiser which helps Lorenzo with food, clothes and shelter.

It became the starting point for his new mission to meet basic needs.

“I don't think he's [Lorenzo] fully aware of how big this has grown,” Parrish said.

Project Lorenzo is a nonprofit Parrish launched with family and friends. It aims to help people experiencing homelessness get off the streets permanently.

“It's not right for them to not have the things we have and just throw away,” said Julie Condy, a Project Lorenzo board member.

This weekend, the organization will host its first "Run for Change" 5K.

It’s their first step toward helping the homeless find housing, jobs and hope.

“We've had less than 30 days to plan this and it is going -- it's a lot bigger than we anticipated and it’s only going to grow bigger,” Tedesco said.

“Totally surprised. I mean, holy cow,” Parrish said.

Runners will be given socks and snacks to hand out to the homeless to help spread the word and awareness, Condy said.

Proof, the say, everyone we meet is put on our path for a purpose.

“I want Project Lorenzo to be my life's work,” Parrish said.

The Project Lorenzo "Run for Change" 5K is Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Breckenridge Park in Richardson.