Shoes. A new haircut. A bus ticket.
These may be things that most of us unintentionally take for granted on a daily basis. However, for a homeless person, these small items are luxuries.
A couple young ladies in our city noticed these needs of the less fortunate, and actually did something about it. Last fall we highlighted a couple influential women-run non-profits that are changing Seattle. The women we profile in this article came to our attention not only because of their age (i.e. they're all pretty young), but how their small ripples of kindness are creating waves in Seattle homeless communities.
The Beyond Project
Rachel Hile, 34, and Jessica Dahl, 26, are both gorgeous in-demand hairstylists on the eastside. The two friends formed The Beyond Project last year, and their dream of using their professional skills to impact their communities has come true.
Partnering with social service organizations and dozens of other hairstylists, The Beyond Project has donated thousands of haircuts. The mission is to connect industry professionals to non-profit agencies in order to provide mobile beauty and wellness resources to those in need.
"The Why is simple: to transform lives from the outside. The Beyond Project wants to fill the extreme gap in care for the outside appearance of individuals in need," said Hile. "Non-profit organizations generally focus on the basic physical necessities of food, shelter and clothing. We complement these crucial services with attention to providing emotional support - through caring action - for these same individuals."
These crucial services have an important component that the organization is in need of - volunteers.
"Without volunteers we are unable to bring self-confidence to those individuals transitioning into fullest potential," Hile said.
With thousands of homeless in need of haircare services, they are requesting hairstylists, makeup artists, estheticians, and salons to partner and transform lives of those in need through beauty and wellness.
Founder Jessica Reasy, 34, only has to use three words to define the charity, "Basic human needs." Redeeming Soles' mission is simple: to provide proper footwear to all those deprived.
"Shoes and socks are some of the most needed, yet least donated items in shelters," said Reasy. "The need is so great for proper footwear that we have a hard time keeping up with the demand."
Some months the demand is so high, the organization has had to distributed between 3,000 - 5,000 pairs of shoes (and that is in Seattle alone)!
Reasy's co-founder Scott Sowle genuinely knows the struggle of homelessness. In 2010 he found himself at Seattle's Union Gospel Mission ready for a second chance after living on the streets. He noticed the shoe closet shelves were constantly empty, which in turn resulted in people being turned away without shoes and socks to weather the cold. That's when he decided to take things into his own hands.
He went down in front of the Columbia Tower to start asking people for donations; within days the sidewalk was overflowing with donations. Their grassroots-type of charity movement to receive donations will continue at the Rock & Roll Marathon on June 18th. You will see them at the finish line, collecting shoes and giving away flip flops.
"Shoes can be such a simple gift, but really can make all the difference in the world for someone who is getting back on their feet," said Reasy. Local celebrities that have joined the project include some of the Seattle Seahawks like Luke Willson, Jon Ryan, Jordan Babineaux and the entire Legion of Boom to help the those in need.
The MORELove Project
"Yesterday alone we had seven families with young children come to us in need." This was how our conversation started with founder Kristine Moreland.
Moreland, 36, created the charity last year to help bridge the gap in the lack of resources that are currently available to the homeless community. The MORELove Project is partnered with Seattle's Union Gospel Mission. Together they work to help men, woman and children free themselves from homelessness by providing access to temporary housing, bus tickets and, most importantly, love and compassion.
Although it may sound like something out of the ten o'clock news, The MORELove Project has formed 'Search and Rescue' teams to combat what doesn't make the headlines: homeless hunger, thirst and coldness.
The teams drive around the streets of Seattle and hand out food, water, blankets and other supplies.
When families come to the organization, the charity scrambles to create a long term plan for the people, as they immediately find housing for them. It costs $160 to house a family for 48 hours, so The More Project's donations are used swiftly, yet properly, leaving a desperate need for more funds.