OAKLAND (KPIX 5) The Reverend Johnnie Clark, Sr., known as Papa Clark, feeds the crowd body and soul.
The 68-year-old pastor leads the Love N Action program for Word Assembly – A Family of Churches in Oakland.
“We supply them with a great meal, a balanced breakfast, and a word to encourage them,” he explained.
Many who come are homeless, struggling with addiction, or making too little to get by. Clark serves free breakfast at the church’s Eastside campus every weekday and every third Saturday, plus weeknight dinners at the Westside campus.
Papa Clark and his crew arrive early in the morning to cook breakfast. For many, it’s the only hot meal they will eat all day.
With ten volunteers and individual donations, Papa Clark fed 10,000 people last year. But he also helps in other ways, from job referrals to advice.
During the holidays, Love N Action gives away toys and does makeovers for low income people.
He’s a steady rock to Trina Talton.
“He’s very positive,” she said. “Every time I’ve talked to him and needed anything, he’s been there for me.”
Love N Action was founded by one of his two sons, but Papa Clark took over the program seven years ago. He and his wife had moved to the Bay Area after losing everything in Hurricane Katrina.
Papa Clark felt his own recovery from drug addiction made him the perfect person to run the Oakland ministry:
“I made a miraculous change. 30 years of heroin addiction? To be free 22 years on the 17 of October? Nobody but God does that.”
To Eastside campus pastor, Harvey Robertson, Papa Clark is an inspiration.
“He’s going to give you what is solid. Number one, that’s the word. Number two, that’s love. Number three, that’s him,” Robertson said.
So for feeding thousands through Love N Action, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to the Reverend Johnnie Clark, Sr.