THE ONE-WOMAN SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCY #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Environmentalist Lilyann Brannon didn’t expect to be helping the homeless when she set out to protect the Guadalupe River in her hometown of San Jose, but that’s what happened. While organizing clean up days at the river, she began noticing how many homeless people were camped in the area, and it just came naturally to help. She brought food to those who were hungry, provided blankets and clothes, and even created an occasional Sunday barbecue by the river. Her efforts grew to preparing weekly meals for over 200 people, using her own money from her job as a receptionist at Apple Computers, and her own kitchen. She served meals at a local park in San Jose until the city closed the park, then she moved to a local social service center. The more she got to know the homeless, the more they trusted her. She even provided alarm clocks or bus fare for those who needed to make it to a job interview on time. “Whatever they ask, I just try to help out, like a relative – which we all are,” explained Brannon. Brannon became a one-woman social service agency to a forgotten group of people. Her work doesn’t just threaten her pocket book – some of the areas where she works are extremely dangerous. But because of Brannon, 4 out of 6 people who have been living under the San Fernando Bridge for the last four years are now well on their way to becoming contributing members of the community. “When you go to bed at night and put your head on the pillow, you think: ‘Gosh, there are people who don’t even have a pillow, don’t have a door to close,’” says Brannon. “But they’re just like us, people from all walks of life. They’re people too.” Brannon’s work with the homeless doesn’t get in the way of her environmental efforts—in 1976 she helped establish four organic community gardens to help the poor become more self-sufficient. She’s fighting to save the only one left – the West Garden by the San Jose library, which is in danger of being turned into a parking lot. “Once you see what’s going on, you can’t just walk away,” she says. “That’s all there is to it.” Update: We did this story in 1989. Brannon told us this week, "I'm still vertical." And she's still that one-woman social services agency, at 94. She's renting storage units for homeless people, providing bus tokens, and giving them lifts to interviews and appointments. "I got my driver's license renewed last week." Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page. Giraffes should have 10,000 Likes.