Making an Impact in Atlanta:

Brenda Rhodes

Simple Needs GA

Sometimes a simple act of compassion becomes something much larger. That’s what happened when Brenda Rhodes started volunteering at a local homeless shelter and noticed that many people arrived without even the most basic supplies for personal care. The shelter provided travel-size shampoos and soaps, but Brenda realized the residents needed more. With the help of family and friends, she assembled comfort kits—bags with full-sized toiletries and hygiene products— to meet the simple need in front of her.

Ten years later, Brenda’s comfort kit project has become Simple Needs GA, a nonprofit that helps children, people experiencing homelessness and others in need while inspiring other people to do the same. Simple Needs continues to provide comfort kits – approximately 1,200 kits per year – but its work has grown to meet additional needs that homeless shelters and other support agencies are not equipped to handle.

For homeless children, a birthday is a day just like any other – no gifts, no celebrations. Simple Needs GA is changing that through its My Birthday Matters program which gives kids $100 worth of gifts from their wish list plus other fun items such as a fleece blanket, backpack, school supplies and a stuffed animal.

“We love our birthday program,” said Brenda. “The looks on the kids’ faces when they open their gifts are just amazing.”

New shoes are also a rare luxury for disadvantaged children, so Simple Needs GA’s Shoe Them Love gives them the thrill of unboxing a brand-new pair of their own. Other programs provide cleaning supplies for families, school uniforms, holiday gifts, and even tents or tarps for people experiencing homelessness.

Simple Needs GA is touching the lives of thousands of people each year, and it all began with Brenda’s decision to contribute her own time and talents to helping others. She has been recognized nationally for her volunteerism, receiving the National Points of Light Award in November 2007 and July 2010, and was honored with both the Lifetime President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2008.

It starts with the simple act of caring, and you can participate. Simple Needs GA is looking for volunteers to help with donation drives on the first and third Saturday of each month, as well as help transporting furniture to those in need. Can’t volunteer? The organization also welcomes in-kind and financial donations. Visit to see a current list of needed items, or contact Brenda at to learn more.

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