Let's Go Places: Tempe artist sells work to feed homeless

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Let's Go Places project contributed $1,000 to Alexi DeVilliers to help him on his mission to feed the homeless. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Let's Go Places project contributed $1,000 to Alexi DeVilliers to help him on his mission to feed the homeless. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Justa Center is a day resource center for seniors 55 and older who are homeless in the Phoenix area. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Justa Center is a day resource center for seniors 55 and older who are homeless in the Phoenix area. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
DeVilliers spends every Saturday helping the homeless in downtown Phoenix, serving 130 home-cooked meals to seniors who don't have anywhere else to go. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) DeVilliers spends every Saturday helping the homeless in downtown Phoenix, serving 130 home-cooked meals to seniors who don't have anywhere else to go. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
He uses the cans from the food he buys to make robots, which he sells to pay for more food for the homeless. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) He uses the cans from the food he buys to make robots, which he sells to pay for more food for the homeless. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Artist Alexi DeVilliers spends every Saturday helping the homeless in downtown Phoenix, serving 130 home-cooked meals to seniors who don't have anywhere else to go.

He buys the food with money he earns from the art he sells, robots he creates from the empty food cans. It's a full-circle project and a long-time passion of his.

"It just became the job," he said. "I make artwork. I feed the people. It's just a big circle."

We at Arizona's Family have crossed paths with DeVilliers before. Zahid Arab talked to him last December.

"[We're at] 40,000 meals and counting," DeVilliers told him then. "The robots pick up the cost of the food; I cook it and I serve it."

[RELATED: Tempe artist uses robots to feed elderly homeless]

That food goes to the Justa Center, a day resource center for seniors 55 and older who are homeless in the Phoenix area.

"I try to make a nice balanced meal for them -- starch, meat, green beans and a salad,” DeVilliers explained to Arab.

But the first time we saw DeVilliers' whimsical robot creations was on "Good Morning Arizona" in 2014. He brought some of his favorite pieces down to our garden and explained what he had been doing for five years.

[RELATED: Local artist creates unique tin can robots, feeds the homeless]

"I try to make fun meals for [the homeless], meals that are hot and homemade," he said.

His dedication has not wavered. If anything, it's strong than ever, which is why we think he's a perfect Let's Go Places recipient.

Because he's usually only at Justa Center shelter on Saturdays, surprising him with a contribution from our Let's Go Places project took some planning; we had to get him out on a Tuesday.

With the help of shelter director Barbara Lewkowitz, the scheme worked.

"I'm really surprised!" he DeVilliers.  "Wow, this is really nice of you. Wow. Thank you very much."

He says his commitment to serving the homeless is a passion, not a job, and the $1,000 Let's Go Places gift will help him immensely. He said he'll use the money to buy canned food and fresh meat for the meals he makes.

"Thank you very much; that's so nice of you," he said. "Channel three and channel five are always so nice to me."

Lewkowitz said DeVilliers is providing much-needed help to some of the Valley's most vulnerable residents.

"For seniors who are experiencing homelessness, it's very easy for them to have malnutrition, dehydration, and everything else," she explained. "Every single Saturday, Alexi brings a hot meal to Justa Center. He does it out of the good of his heart. He's always on time and he always has a smile on his face." 

"He's very dedicated," she continued. "He never asks for anything in return and he really feels good about what he does."

If you would like to support DeVilliers' mission, you can buy his art at various festivals around the Valley. To find out more about what he does and to see the robots he build from recycled cans, check out AlexiDevilliers.com.

The Let's Go Places initiative is a partnership between Arizona's Family and Valley Toyota Dealers designed to recognize and reward people who are making a difference in the Valley.

[MORE: Let's Go Places stories]


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