A Someday Soon Foundation cookout for Oklahoma City’s homeless isn’t just another “feeding” of the local downtrodden. There is an energy to it. Music pumps. There is laughter and handshakes. It feels as much a party as anything.
Someday Soon Foundation founder Tommy Kelly loves engaging with this community and you can see it in the way he interacts with each soul that crosses his path. His manner is straightforward and compassionate; lighthearted and deeply human. Kelly represents more than charity to the lives he touches. To Oklahoma City’s least fortunate, Tommy Kelly is a friend.
Three years ago, Kelly – who’d been sober for nearly a year – was in a bit of a rut. On a trip to New York City, he took notice of the way New Yorkers literally stepped over their homeless. Once back in OKC, he began to clock similar behavior. Kelly then made a decision that would change not just his life, but the lives of thousands.
“I decided to do a one-time good deed,” he says. “I drove around Francis and Reno, saw where the most homeless people were and then went and bought 25 pizzas and a few cases of Coke. I set up a table and set up shop.”
Word of mouth spreads fast in the homeless community, and before long, Kelly had passed out every piece of pizza and every can of soda – and the idea to do something greater in the world was seeded.
Two weeks later, Kelly decided to do it again. He bought pizzas and sodas, and this time, he struck up a conversation with a woman there with her children. While they had a home, they had no power and no water. Kelly took the family back to their home and was overcome with empathy. “I made sure that they had enough food to last them for a week, made sure their bills were paid and water was kept on. That’s all.”
Shortly after that day, Kelly officially started the Someday Soon Foundation, dedicated to changing the lives of homeless Oklahomans. The meaning behind the name was clear.
“You might not have something today,” says Kelly, “but someday soon it will be there.”
And soon, it wasn’t just pizzas Kelly was slinging; he jumped behind a grill and began hosting full-fledged cookouts for Oklahoma’s homeless communities.
The work doesn’t stop with cookouts, though. Through his personal Facebook page, Kelly assembles enormous clothing drives, focusing particularly on coats for the winter. With the help of volunteers, he often goes to tent city and hand-delivers coats to those in need – bringing not just warmth, but well wishes.
And Kelly’s work isn’t done. Moving forward, the Someday Soon Foundation is shifting its focus to ensure Oklahoma’s children are fed at school and the organization is raising money to pay off student’s back balance lunches.
“No kid should only have to eat toast and butter,” he said.
I ask Kelly what it feels like to make such an impact, and he shrugs it off. “We just go out to have a good time. I don’t care what it is you’ve done or what you’re about to go do. I’m just there to spread the love and you’ve got to have a good time when you go do it.”
And while he may claim to simply be having a good time, what Kelly is really doing is turning “someday” into “now.”