Cancer survivor drives Uber, Lyft to provide lunches for Nashville's homeless

Posted at 1:42 PM, Sep 17, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Nashville ride-hailing driver is using the money she earns to make meals for the homeless.

Kerry Wiles is a full-time scientist at the Cooperative Human Tissue Network at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

When Wiles was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, she made a bucket list that included driving for Uber and Lyft.

"I thought 'I'm going to make a bucket list of everything I've wondered about' and this was on it," said Wiles.

Within a couple days, Wiles knew she liked the gig.

"What I found is I really like talking to the people. I like meeting them and sharing my favorite spots in Nashville," she said.

But Wiles also discovered quickly that Nashville's homeless population is sizable and growing.

"As I was driving around I would notice the same people in the same spots and I noticed a lot of new homeless," she said.

A week into it, Wiles began making meals for the homeless.

"If I have a rider with me, they're kind of amazed," she said.

Wiles uses the fares and tips she receives to pay for the lunches. She hands them out during her shifts.

"If you leave a tip I match it... everything I need to make the lunches is basically subsidized by my tips and rides," she said.

Wiles has her route down to a science now. On Saturdays and Sundays, she typically hands out more than 100 lunches.

This summer, a customer started to help after hearing about what she does.

"It's the best thing in the world," said Ryan Caldwells. "It's a humbling experience. When I was a bellhop, I would see people freezing and under bridges and it just didn't sit well in my soul."

"We started talking about his goals and dreams and he said he wanted to work with the homeless. I love having his help. He's energetic and an amazing 24-year-old kid," Wiles said.

Recently, the duo started writing down the shoe sizes of people in the homeless community to get them boots for the colder months.

WTVF's Hannah McDonald asked, "How do you fit this all into your week?"

"What's important you fit into your week. You just have to determine what's important. When you stop and evaluate life, there are a lot of things that become important to you whether that's the legacy you leave behind or the ability to inspire someone else," said Wiles.

Learn more about Homeless Helpers Lunches on Facebook.

This story was originally published by Hannah McDonald at WTVF.