Ronnie Forbes of Livermore has experienced dark days.
Following decorated service in the Army, Forbes struggled to return to civilian life with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The PTSD he experienced started a downward spiral into addiction and homelessness.
He had lost everything -- his family, his home and his peace. After several run-ins with law enforcement and a year-long incarceration in 2015 -- which Forbes calls a “divine wake-up” call -- he turned his life around and knew his calling was to serve others in need.
As founder of One Nation Dream Makers, an organization that distributes donated food across the Bay Area, Forbes has dedicated his life to serving others in need. As great as his charitable work is, so likewise is the riveting journey that formed the man behind this tremendous work. While crediting his faith and others for where he is today, Forbes acknowledges that life was not always so kind.
"My biggest motivation in doing what I do every day is that I once was homeless, which pushes me to help families in need with food insecurities," Forbes said when he was presented a special commendation in 2021 from Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert. "I served my country, and now it is my time to serve my community."
One Nation Dream Makers, a Livermore-based 501c3 nonprofit organization, addresses food insecurity by providing more than 400 food boxes that will feed a family of four weekly and working with Dig Deep Farms in San Leandro to prepare and deliver 200 individual meals every week.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, One Nation Dream Makers hit a record of 1,700 boxes of food delivered each week. Since each box feeds a family of four for a week, more than 6,800 people a week were kept from going hungry.
An important part of One Nation Dream Makers’ program is “food recovery.”
“Every day, there are families in the Bay Area -- your neighbors -- who go hungry. And yet every day outrageous amounts of perfectly good food gets tossed into Dumpsters,” a statement on the website reads.
Working with organizations like Grocery Outlet, Costco, Panera and Smart & Final, thousands of pounds of perfectly good meat, produce and other food has been kept from being trashed unnecessarily and, instead, delivered to people in need.
Coordinating volunteers, building relationships with partners and keeping hundreds from food insecurity takes energy, and those around Forbes admire his work ethic and upbeat attitude.
“He has that same passion every day. He’s always moving all the time,” said outreach supervisor Ryan Smith, who oversees kitchen and distribution operations alongside Forbes. “I’m trying to get him to the point where he can take a break,” he added.
The passion Forbes has for helping has shown to be contagious and has led to a large group of dedicated volunteers -- who Forbes calls “soldiers on the new battlefield" -- contributing to the One Nation Dream Makers mission.
To learn more about One Nation Dream Makers, donate or volunteer, visit onenationdreammakers.org