Remarkable Women – Eleze “Lisa” Thomas McMillan
Brewton, AL – (WKRG) —
Feeding the hungry is a passion of Eleze “Lisa” Thomas-McMillan.
In the early 1990’s, she started a food pantry at her church which continues to help those who cannot afford to buy groceries.
In 2005, she walked from Alabama to Washington D.C. to bring attention to hunger in America. Two years ago, she and her husband opened a donations only restaurant in her hometown of Brewton, Alabama.
People from all walks of life enjoy hot, home cooked meals at “Drexel and Honeybee’s” which has been named as the ‘nicest place in Alabama’ by Reader’s Digest and featured in The Washington Post.
People from all walks of life stand in line for a hot, home cooked meals prepared by Thomas-McMillan, and her staff of volunteers.
“I’ve been ill. I had back surgery a while back..I’ve been off work”, said Carlos Smith who eats at the restaurant twice a week. Jace Daniels said of himself and other college students, “It helps us from not eating two times a day to..we get to eat three times a day instead.”
“I wanted to come and let these people know that we’re praying for them and just appreciate what they’re doing”, said 91 year old Kenneth Hensen, a Retired Pastor who traveled from Wagarville to have lunch at the restaurant.
What you’ll never know is who paid for their meals or simply left a thank you note. “The point is, you have no more than the other person coming in here because we don’t now what anyone has and we don’t know what anyone puts in the box..and we don’t care”, said Thomas-McMillan.
“She has lived this story, you know. She didn’t know what she was going to eat in college and she did not forget”, said Carolyn Hart who volunteers at the restaurant as a server.
“She has that drive and she never gives up and when she starts something, she gives it 150 percent, not 100 percent, said Freddie McMillan, Thomas-McMillan’s husband. Freddie McMillan agreed to help fulfill her dream of opening the restaurant by dipping into their retirement fund, mostly his as a retired marine. Thomas-McMillan didn’t have much saved from her career as a waitress and even though the couple could charge money for their tasty dishes, she serve others freely and joyfully.
“What good is money. What good would it be for me to have a ton of money and my neighbors are suffering down the street. Will it bring you any joy? No, but if you go down there and give them some of that money. It’ll bring you joy..and release that power that that money has over your life”, said Thomas-McMillan.
She doesn’t worry about people who might try to take advantage of her generosity, taking food they can afford. She refuses to stop hellping people who need it because of those who don’t. Thomas-McMillan also beleives others can do something similar to “Drexel & Honeybee’s” in their communities.
“The thing of it is…just gotta find within yourself. You gotta find what God wants you to do”, said Thomas-McMillan.
She offers advice on how to find joy in helping others in her book, “Living Fulfilled, The Infectious Joy of Serving Others”.