These are our neighbors.
Sometimes they are joyful.
Sometimes they are thoughtful.
And sometimes they are hungry.
These are the Faces of Iron Gate
Iron Gate is dedicated to feeding the hungry and homeless of Tulsa every day. Through this portrait series we hope to not only challenge what you may think hunger looks like in our community, but also highlight our guests’ beauty, grace and humanity. The opening of Iron Gate on Archer marks the beginning of a new chapter in our history. So we’re marking the occasion by showcasing the Faces of Iron Gate in color, instead of black and white portraits that may have become the tradition over the last eight years. Iron Gate has worked with talented Tulsa photographers to take portraits of our guests, showcasing more than 75 different people since 2011. Many people look past the hungry and homeless of Tulsa. The Faces portraits series allows our guests to be seen in a new light.
Joseph loves the fresh, clean air of the great outdoors. He works part-time in landscaping and during the spring and summer. When times are lean, he turns to Iron Gate for a plate of his favorite oatmeal. He says given the choice, he always chooses to help somebody.
When most people think of Iron Gate, they think of food. For Lamont, it’s fellowship. The proud Navy veteran says this is where he comes to stay connected to his fellow veterans. “All my friends are here, “ he says with his trademark grin. “Instead of just staying home and dealing with myself, I come here [to Iron Gate].”
Life hasn’t always been easy for Adrian. She’s struggled, lived on the streets and bounced back. She’s been coming to Iron Gate since she was little. And she was excited to see the new building and visit with everybody.
“Got to learn to take orders before you can give them.” Dallas is full of little pearls of wisdom like that. He’s a Choctaw Army Veteran and wears his status proudly on his jacket. He says he likes to come down to Iron Gate to see his old friends and swap stories. “Always listen,” he says with a twinkle in his eye. He says he learned that one from his mother and he’ll never forget it.
Everylee is an Iron Gate mainstay. When asked if she wanted to participate in Faces of Iron Gate, she said, “It’s about time you asked me.” She comes for the meals and often stays for groceries. She says Iron Gate picks up where her social security leaves off, making it possible for her to make ends meet.
Demarco radiates a joyful energy that almost leaps out of his portrait. He loves music and loves to dance and insisted on taking his portrait with his portable speaker. Music and dance are his language and his gift. He can often be seen starting his day with a dance, before heading to Iron gate for a meal.
Shaun was full of stories of his life and travels. He’s had some ups and some downs. He was down on his luck, when he found Iron Gate. But he’s glad he did. “I really enjoy this place.”
Matthew and JJ
Most of Iron Gate’s community meal guests are adults, but the children of Iron Gate are pretty special to staff and volunteers alike. These two brothers have been coming to Iron Gate for years. This picture seems to capture the dynamics of brotherhood. At first 9-year-old JJ didn’t want to join his family for a portrait. When we were almost finished, he decided he did want his picture taken, but only if his big brother would join him.
Most folks who eat with us come several times a week. Many come every day. They join us for the camaraderie and friendship, but some stick to themselves. Katieh falls into that category. He’s a quiet soul, coming to Iron Gate almost daily but rarely speaking to anyone. But occasionally, a kind word prompts this smile.
Angel comes to Iron Gate just about every day. She calls many people here her family and says that’s really what Iron Gate is all about - bringing people together together. She says she can put away five plates of biscuits and gravy.