When Bolling volunteered for Vietnam in the sixties, it was early evidence of a life spent in willing service of others. Settling in Midtown after college, he joined the staff of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, taking over its soup kitchen. His success at collecting donated groceries for the church pantry gave Bolling a vision for launching the Atlanta Community Food Bank, one of the first agencies of its kind in the Southeast. Since starting out with an old pickup truck in 1979, Bolling has built the organization into a pillar of the region’s social-service community, using 15,000 volunteers a year to help collect and distribute 20 million pounds of food to more than 700 nonprofits in Atlanta and thirty-eight counties across North Georgia. Along the way, Bolling has ceaselessly looked for other ways to help the less fortunate, cofounding the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless and starting the Atlanta Prosperity Campaign, which provides financial counseling to working families. Combining the dedication of a small-town parson with a CEO’s business acumen—he’s studied nonprofit management at Harvard—Bolling has been uniquely effective at bridging the gap between Atlanta’s corporate and faith communities. “What I discovered about myself is that I probably could’ve been a very successful entrepreneur,” he says. “But I wanted to serve others.”
Left-Wing Christian When Bolling first arrived in Atlanta, he lived in a small intown commune.
Ready To Eat The Atlanta’s Table program, which collects leftover meals from restaurants and caterers, was considered a potential target for food-sickness lawsuits when launched by the Food Bank in 1987.
Photograph courtesy of Bill Bolling