Years ago, when Brooklet resident Keith Brinson created his own barbecue-style sauce, he never dreamed it would be used to help prevent homelessness.
And he certainly never expected that it would one day take first place in the "Home Canned Items" category at the 50th annual Kiwanis Ogeechee Fair.
Known as “Teapotter” due to a habit of collecting teapots, the former restaurant owner and retired military officer created “Teapotter’s Top’N Sauce” and used it at his restaurant, Teapotter’s Café on Interstate 16 and Ga. 67, when he roasted dozens of Boston butts and fed veterans and other military personnel free on Veteran’s and Memorial days.
But now his restaurant is closed, and Brinson has faced financial challenges of his own that threatened at one time to steal his own roof out from over him, he uses his creation to help prevent homelessness.
For every quart of Teapotter’s Top’N Sauce sold, Brinson donates a portion of the proceeds to Open Hearts Community Mission, a recently-formed mission to help homeless people better their lives.
Brinson also sells a sweeter version of the tangy sauce called Teapotter’s Honey On, with pure honey added.
With a Facebook Page called “Teapotters Entrepreneurial Extensions,” Brinson promotes his sauce and explains his reasons for helping those who have indeed lost homes due to various reasons.
“It has been a dream of mine to help others all my life,” he said. “God’s plan put me on a path that has led me to feel what it is like to not know where ‘home’ might be next month or where the food will come from. God has guided me, protected me and further instilled in me a much stronger desire than ever before to put a great taste in your mouth and prevent homelessness.”
He has already written a few checks to the Open Hearts Community Mission, led by chairman Delia Mobley, who said the mission provides temporary shelter for homeless people while they work to find jobs and improve their situations.
He is involved in other missions as well. Another Facebook page, “Helping the Homeless/Needy,” has garnered enough donations to help pay an electric deposit for an elderly, disabled man who lost his home through eviction due to septic tank issues; help clothe a man living in a relative’s shed, and build up a collection of clothing and goods to help others in need. The page was started by Jennifer Sheffield, who befriended the evicted man; and Jenifer Brogdon.
Brinson and a host of others have joined the page and plan meetings to determine how to further help homeless and needy people through efforts in conjunction with, but separate from, the mission.
With about 120 members already, the group has posts offering phone numbers where people can get help with medications, obtain government-funded cell phones, find clothing and food sources.
“I like seeing that people are caring on here. I wish I knew all these people when I first moved to Bulloch County,” posted Linda Bunton, a homeless woman who has been helped by the Open Hearts Community Mission.”When I was a single mom, it seems there was little help for us. Now that my daughter is grown, it's hard for me to get help.”
In another post, Sheffield said “There's no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and working with the people who can make a difference.”
Brinson began his involvement with the “Helping the Homeless/Needy” page with a gift of a coat to one homeless man; within a week he was juggling making and promoting his sauce and collecting donations for the group effort.
Some of the best days for him are when he is able to replenish his sauce inventory at a local restaurant and write a check to the mission.
Both the Top’N Sauce and Honey On Sauce can be used for barbecue, recipes, dipping, marinade and more, he said.
“I am working on a Teapotter’s Top’N Sauce recipe book.”
The sauces are available at Mr. Omelette’s Café on South Main Street in Statesboro. Prices are $6.25 a quart for the original Top’N Sauce and $7.25 for the Honey On.
More information (including orders and delivery) can be obtained by contacting Brinson at (912) 678-5812, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/.