Photos inspire nonprofit

Daniel Troppy turned an interest in photographing Atlanta's homeless community into a nonprofit.
Daniel Troppy turned an interest in photographing Atlanta's homeless community into a nonprofit.

Daniel Troppy’s enthusiasm for photography led him on a journey that went well beyond taking poignant pictures. The 57-year-old former artist taught himself how to set up shots and develop them in a darkroom. His search for subjects led him into Atlanta’s homeless community.

“I started photographing the homeless and listening to their stories,” he said. “I posted some of the narratives on Facebook, and suddenly I got a $25 donation from a woman in Texas to help the man in the photo. Then I got another donation and another, and it snowballed into a nonprofit.”

Last February, Troppy launched Yes in My Backyard, or YIMBY, an organization that reaches out to the homeless in a variety of simple ways that he wants others to emulate.

“Our mission is to encourage others to engage in homelessness when confronted with it and be proactive,” he said. “Jump in and help someone rather than ignoring it.”

Troppy began doing that by keeping his car stocked with items to donate, including backpacks filled with toiletries, sleeping bags, blankets, socks and food.

“When the pandemic hit, shelters and soup kitchens closed, and people asked me if I had food,” said Troppy. “So I started making up food to hand out. It really hit home with me one day when I gave a man a paper bag, and he tore it open and stuffed a whole sandwich in his mouth – he was that hungry. That’s when I started focusing on feeding people, too.”

As restaurants began closing last spring, many called on Troppy to distribute food they couldn’t use. “The most I did in one day was 200 meals, and I did it on my own because no one wanted to ride in the car with me,” he said.

Getting volunteers and donors has become a bit easier as vaccines are distributed. Troppy now rents a room in a Grant Park church to store sanitizers, toothbrushes, wipes, flashlights, T-shirts, rain ponchos and umbrellas that people give him. And he’s not shy about asking those people to come along on the ride to give them out.

“You see the connection, where your item is going,” he said. “It’s very powerful.”

Though he’s managing the nonprofit fulltime, Troppy plans to continue taking pictures and to sell his photography to fund it.

“These are members of our community, somebody’s brother, sister, child, aunt, uncle,” he said. “Since I started, I’ve met people from all backgrounds who are experiencing homelessness; anyone can lose a partner, a job or a home. It’s amazing to me that something like photography could turn into a nonprofit to help them.”

Information about YIMBY is online at yimbygeorgia.org.

Who’s doing good? Each week, we write about a deserving individual, charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To suggest an event or person for us to cover, contact us at ajc.doinggood@gmail.com.

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