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Supporting the Houseless

Week One

Saturday. August 8, 2020

We didn’t plan to go pass out supplies, but that’s what we did. 

We couldn’t wait until we had donor support to get started.

Very close to my home, I am observing an increasing population of people newly house-less setting-up camp.

While grocery shopping, my family and I grabbed some food, water, and socks. When we got home, we gathered other handy supplies such as first aid kits, masks, hand sanitizer, and such.

My partner Zack and I filled up our backpacks and reusable grocery bags and set out.

Ten minutes into our walk, we found a camping spot. We called out to make our presence known and see if anyone was there but heard nothing. We divided up some items and left them outside the tent.

This same situation played out at two other locations.

All together, the supplies we put together probably cost $55. It’s hard to say for sure since we grabbed so many random items from the house.

I will be planning an organized event soon and hope we can put more together.

If your interested in this project, please let me know if you can help or donate to the cause. Thank you!

Tuesday. August 11, 2020

Zack and I went back to the sites we dropped supplies at and saw that everything was gone. Unfortunately, we still didn’t see anyone. We want to learn which items are the most needed so we can plan. 

We are talking about leaving a note explaining what we are doing, with a pen so they can tell us what they need.

There is a lot of work to do. I’ll keep you all updated on what is happening.

WEEK TWO

Monday. August 17, 2020

After a weed-pulling work party at our little urban farm, Zack, Noah, and I drove down to the  Walmart Neighborhood Market off Grand and spent close to $170 on supplies to do our next drop at the camps.

We bought

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dry shampoo
  • Lotion
  • Wet wipes
  • Face wipes
  • First-aid gauze
  • Bandaids
  • Tampons
  • Pads
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Bottled water
  • Ensure
  • Granola bars
  • Cookies
  • Chips
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Fruit snacks

Honestly, there could have been more. I can post a picture of the receipt if anyone is curious. I made a Facebook post later that evening and asking if anyone else could donate anything. I received some great feedback. A friend of mine, Tess, sent me a message and told me she could get me new socks and underwear before we did the next drop.

Tuesday. August 18, 2020

As you know, I’ve struggled to find anyone living in the tent cities to talk to and learn their specific needs. 

After dropping my car off my car with Gordon at Goodyear, I noticed two older gentlemen sitting on a sunken in the stoop of a nearby building. I came over and engaged them in a conversation. They were very friendly. We talked for about twenty minutes before I could tell them what I was doing, and ask what they needed. 

Everything we bought, coupled with Tess’s donation, fit their needs exactly. I also learned Living Hope Church has a sanctioned homeless camp from 7 pm to 7 am.

Wednesday. August 19, 2020.

While working at the little urban farm, Tess came to drop off her donation. I came out to meet her and did not expect what she brought; five plastic bags filled to the brim with varying sizes of socks and underwear for men and women! I am so grateful for her generosity!

In the evening, Zack, Linus, and I bagged up the donations and went out to distribute. The sun was setting, and we needed to hurry. We hit two spots and left items based upon our observations. 

It was completely dark by the time I got back to my car, and we still had quite a bit to donate. Zack and I decided to unload everything else at Living Hope Church.

I am glad we chose to do it that way. We got to interact with some people, see what was happening, and ask some questions.

We learned Pastor Brian Norris orchestrated everything to put the city-sanctioned homeless camp together.  I plan on reaching out to him to see what we can do as a community to show support, and to keep it going. 

Week Three

Saturday. August 22, 2020

Zack had contacted Pastor Brian Norris earlier this week, but we still await a response. I am not sure what we can do as a community to keep it open through the winter months.

I still don’t know how many people are staying where I’ve done the last two drops. I am going out to leave a note that says;

Hey,

We are packing up food and supplies to bring out here. I hope you’ve received everything from our past few drops. 

Please leave a list of what you’d like, and we will do our best to make it happen.

-J

I hope this plan works. It may become an art project. Who knows what will be on here tomorrow. We’ll see.

Sunday. August 23, 2020

So, my letter worked! I did get a response;

Clean up your shit bitch!

Maybe it wasn’t the most constructive feedback, but this specific area does need some cleaning. I wish I knew if a passerby wrote this, or if it was someone sleeping out here. Either way, everything we’ve brought out has disappeared, aside from three rotting bananas and a few face masks.

Zack, Noah, and I proceeded to the other spots we make drops. This site is very tidy and tucked back. It’s hard to say how many people stay out here.

 “Hey,” Zack hollered, “We are just checking in to see if anyone is here!” A barking Labrador retriever charged toward us. A lady quickly emerged to tend to her canine companion.

I spoke to the women for quite some time. I learned they had received some of the supplies we brought out, but not all of it. I am so happy I met her. In any group of people, there is always an advocate. That is her! I’ll call her B. She gave me an idea of what everyone needed, how many people are out here, and a few contacts of people who could help find additional resources.

Zack spoke to the man who was present. They also had a meaningful conversation about what we are doing. He was curious why we were doing this, and if we belonged to any church or organization. It’s a good question. If anyone else wants to know, I will give the long answer. 

Just know, The Mother of Arts was created with this project in mind.

Monday. August 24, 2020

I love telling people what I am doing, then listening to their suggestions. One of my favorite people, and also my doctor, gave me a great way to pursue public bathrooms and handwashing stations for our house-less community. Get colleges involved! I need to see what programs WSUV offers for city planning and architecture.

Our discussion started because of the conversation I had with B yesterday. She wants to attend a city hall meeting to request these facilities. I’d love for more community involvement to aid this process.

Bathrooms will help eliminate public urination complaints, or human waste lying around. Handwashing stations will help personal hygiene and decrease the spread of viruses (like Covid-19). A community dump site, or more public trash cans, would eliminate litter.

These are three things I want to work toward in our city. However, right now, I am going to continue doing the little things I can. 

I have the tea light candles, dog food, and clothing items B needed. I am heading out!

Friday. August 27, 2020

Zack and I went to Living Hope Church to meet Pastor Brian Norris. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were amazed at how lively it was. A few guys were dishing out meats right off the grill and smoker, music was playing, and everyone was having a good time!

Brian came over and introduced himself and started giving us the tour. They have tables, tents, a computer, a charging station, coffee, food, and a shower trailer. He took me into the building and showed us the community room and donation center.

I asked him what the plans were for winter quarters this year with Covid-19. “We are still trying to figure that out,” Brian answered. There are a few options, but each one requires more work and serves fewer people.

I learned a lot during this meeting. I love what Brian does, and am so grateful for how much of himself he pours into it. I also understand more of the community pushback and obstacles to work around so we can provide more. 

I am not sure how much Brian and I will work together. If an opportunity arises to assist him, I will take it. I’m wondering if I could use some connections to provide bunkers and a larger shower trailer this summer. We’ll see what happens.

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