Well-intended people who see homeless people in our community say, “This is not right. But what can one person possibly do?”
Magloire Lubika, whose family immigrated from Uganda to Charlotte, had heard his whole life that giving back to your community was the right thing to do. Lubika’s father had helped homeless people in Charlotte and often brought his son with him to serve.
Lubika, who transferred to UNCG, frequently rode his bike up and down Gate City Boulevard, where he saw many homeless people around the Greensboro Urban Ministry. He decided to stop and talk to people in front of Weaver House and ask them about their lives and their needs.
Lubika decided to follow the advice of his father and do something good for his community. He founded Smell the Roses, a nonprofit group, to help the homeless and provide them with tools and pathways to reintegrate into the community.
Reginald Gilmore has experienced homelessness. He knows the local homeless community and has seen the good work of Smell the Roses.
“Magloire Lubika’s efforts have proven to be a comfort to many whom I know personally as well as myself because in this life of homelessness, many find themselves in places not fit to live in,” Gilmore said.
The simple relationship between Gilmore and Lubika was significant.
“Just to know someone cares enough to spend if just a day is powerful all by itself,” Gilmore said. He said he was homeless for several years and endured many sleepless nights wondering where he would live from day to day. Now he has a temporary home, in part, because he knows that people like Lubika care.
“It puts a different spin or hope on a hopeless future, which is what homelessness can do to you,” Gilmore said.
Smell the Roses peer to peer meets people where they are and treats them as friends, neighbors and community.
Smell the Roses hopes to destroy the stigmas associated with homelessness by posting stories on its website that show the real struggles and successes of people living this way.
Parker White, the executive director of Backpack Beginnings, a Greensboro nonprofit group the provides food and clothes to children in need, said she has been mentoring Lubika for the past 21/2 years, after meeting him when he was volunteering with a group from UNCG.
“He told me about his desire to give back to the community and start a nonprofit, and I was immediately drawn to him, his passion,” White said. “And I knew I wanted to help.”
Lubika impressed her with his compassion for others and innovative ways to help Greensboro residents, she said.
Lubika has the tenacity and work ethic to make Smell the Roses a success, White said.
“Magloire has a unique knack for putting a face and story to a problem, unlike anything I have seen,” she said. “He cares, has a huge heart and has big ideas and he wants others to care just as deeply.”
White said that Lubika has just begun this journey, and that she is excited about what is yet to come from him.
“We are blessed to have him be part of Greensboro,” she said.
Since 2017, Smell the Roses has helped more than 30 people by listening to needs and finding specific support. This may take the form of providing dental services for a broken tooth or an appointment for a haircut and shave for a job interview.
Homelessness can happen to anyone, said Tatiana Hines, a volunteer for Smell the Roses since its beginning. Its work, she said, allows people to feel included and valued, and that motivates them for change.
“I truly pray,” Gilmore said, “that many will understand and embrace this organization as a means to help someone begin a new life.”