Once Homeless, Georgia Official Donates Salary to Nonprofit | Georgia News
By TYLER WILKINS, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SNELLVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Tod Warner became homeless when he was only 4, shortly after his parents divorced. His mother loaded him and his brother into a 1962 Volkswagen Beetle, and they slept in a vacant lot and garage for about a week.
Warner and his family found places to stay but never permanent homes. He attended nearly every school in DeKalb County, he said, moving into a new apartment for various reasons every nine months.
On Valentine’s Day in 1980, Warner, who was 17 at the time, was told by his mother he had two weeks to find somewhere to live before she moved to Roswell without him. The parents of a friend let Warner live in their basement until he graduated from Tucker High School.
Warner, now serving on Snellville City Council, is donating to an organization that feeds families in precarious circumstances that hit close to home for him.
Since January, the now 58-year-old has sent $100 each month of his $8,000 annual council salary to Lettum Eat, a nonprofit that delivers prepared meals to those in need at distribution events across Gwinnett County.
Headed by chef Hank Reid, Lettum Eat largely relies on donations, fundraisers and catering events to meet its goal. Snellville City Council recognized Reid for his work in early January, prompting Warner to begin donating to the nonprofit.
“Once Hank started taking food to people rather than having people come to him, it really hit home because there were many times in my life that was me,” Warner said. “If we don’t help when we can, then can we expect someone to help us?”
Reid declined an interview with the AJC to comment on Warner’s donations, in light of Warner’s status as a political candidate.
Warner previously donated convalescent plasma every few weeks from August 2020 to January 2021 after he recovered from COVID-19. He chose to donate to Lettum Eat each month after he was told he could no longer donate plasma.
“You never know what in your life is going to change at the drop of a hat that you don’t have money set aside for,” said Warner, who works as a real estate investment consultant. “All of a sudden, you’re without a roof over your head. I know the feeling.”
Warner, who moved 32 times by the time he was 30, finally settled in Snellville in 1995. He initially served on Snellville City Council from 2007-2011. Before and after his first go at council, he worked on the city’s planning commission.
Two years ago, Warner became a councilmember again after winning a special election, when Barbara Bender vacated her seat to become mayor. He plans to run for reelection this year.
“I wanted (my kids) to have the stability that I never had,” said Warner, who has two daughters and one son. “I’m so involved in my community because I never had the luxury of seeing somebody year after year, watching them grow in one place. It was always a new group of faces, new everything.”
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