It shows their stories but not their full names.
And that’s enough.
While the identities of homeless men and women are kept confidential, a phone app operating in the palm of a stranger’s hand uncovers the sad truth of their circumstances.
Then, with the ease of a click of some cash via electronic services like PayPal or GoFundMe, the app makes it possible for those strangers to contribute to a homeless person’s specific needs or goals — just rent, a haircut, a pair of shoes. , job training.
And, equally valuable, if in a different way, donors can also write notes of encouragement, such as one sent to a 35-year-old homeless man in San Clemente.
“Good on you, Jeffrey, for sharing your story and giving someone like me the privilege of opening your heart and paying it forward. You’re not alone.”
The app is called Samaritan, a high-tech expression of the parable “who is my neighbor” from the Gospel of Luke. On this digital platform, a Good Samaritan neighbor can be anyone – near or far. In some cases, the homeless people being helped have a Bluetooth enabled device called a “blue beacon” that can act as a digital wallet to secure documentation.
It can also send an electronic alert to inform Samaritan payers that someone in their vicinity is on stage. The app can then lead the donor to a Samaritan profile for moment-to-moment assistance.
Since its inception five years ago in Seattle, the city with the nation’s largest homeless population, the Samaritan app has grown into two clusters in Southern California — the nonprofit service provider Ministry of Family Support (FAM), in South Orange County, and Ways Los Angeles. Your future in Angeles County. Both are using Samaritan with some of their clients.
Although app profiles are incomplete, there is enough information about each recipient’s background and their specific goals to make their personality clear. Their profiles and any donated funds – labeled on the app as “community investments” – are tracked and maintained by case managers who help keep their homeless clients on their way to progress, and Provide inspections so that money can be spent as intended.
To Bill Greco, a board member of Pathways to Your Future who brought Samaritans to the attention of the organization, Gift/Invest is a two-way street, with potential for recipients and donors that goes beyond dollars and cents.
“People walk by these invisible people on street corners, not knowing what to do,” Greco said.
“(The Samaritans) can help overcome the obstacles many of us have in not knowing how to deal with this overwhelming issue.”
‘Come together, not together’
Samaritan was started by Seattle-based entrepreneur Jonathan Kumar. His immigrant childhood exposed him to some of the struggles faced by the app’s homeless beneficiaries, and his experience with startups gave him the tech savvy approach to social innovation. Eric Turner, who works as a digital storyteller for Samaritan, said others on the team have dealt with similar issues, or grew up where homelessness is prevalent.
Two Year Pilot Program in Seattle 500 homeless people were included. Turner said 56% of clients improved their self-sufficiency and 52 individuals found housing, jobs, or both. More than 15,000 anonymous donors (known as “team members” on Samaritans) contributed funds.
In addition to Seattle and Southern California, Samaritans is also being used in Portland, Oklahoma City and Denver, which lists about 215 homeless individuals. Turner said the platform has raised $58,250 in those communities so far in 2021.
According to Turner, donors range in age from 25 to 55, and have different patterns of giving.
“Older people often donate smaller but higher amounts,” Turner said. “Young people have less money to give but are more willing to send messages of encouragement.”
The FAM project is fueled by a $40,000 grant from the Orange County Community Foundation. faith based nonprofit There is a main center in San Clemente Business Park and two satellite offices in Laguna Niguel and San Juan Capistrano, providing homelessness prevention and intervention services to approximately 170 people in South County. The group provides a food pantry and helps with utility bills, temporary shelter and other resources.
The organization has launched a pilot project of its own involving Samaritans and expects to bring five of the 15 recipients on board this year. They are a mix of men and women, although gender is not always clear from their Samaritan profiles – again, to maintain their privacy. Three have jobs, one is working on professional certification, and the other is getting on-the-job coaching.
Who are they? Take a look at the app.
There’s Acipar, who battled a life-threatening kidney disease that left him unemployed and thousands of dollars in debt. More misfortune followed: getting a T-bond by a car involved in a high-speed chase. All this left ACooper without housing and looking for employment.
Elizabeth is a single mom with one child. They live in a women’s shelter. She lost her job as a massage therapist due to the coronavirus pandemic and now needs to be re-certified and insured to return to her profession.
Sun Seeker’s troubles stem from the 2017 murder of his wife during a violent attack in Brazil. Suffering from PTSD and depression, Sun Sikar was living in his vehicle but recently moved to permanent assisted living. Now all they need is basic furnishing, according to the app.
RubyGloomSailorMoon is a single mother of two children. A victim of domestic violence, she has been homeless for two years, but is trying to restart her life. He is looking for work and needs clothes to wear for the job interview. She is also enrolled to return to school in the fall.
Jeffrey A, whose name is misspelled on the app as “Jeffrey”, is a San Clemente native who lived a homeless life on the streets with his mother. He and his mother both abused drugs and alcohol, but Jeffrey has been sober for two years. He has accomplished some of his goals; Finding a full time job and saving for a car. But he never finished high school and wants to get his GED and further education.
In recent weeks, Jeffrey A. And his mother was living in his car, although FAM recently linked him to a housing program. Being part of the Samaritan app project “brings joy to my heart,” said Jeffrey, eyes smiling atop a pandemic face mask.
“It just encourages me to make the right choices, to keep going straight ahead; Every step in the right direction.”
He said he remembers the same kind of handshake when he got odd jobs as a daily wage labourer. She used some of the Samaritan funds to buy “interview-worthy” clothes, including two long-sleeved shirts, a pair of slacks, a belt, and some dress shoes.
He likes the Samaritan’s motto – “Walk along, not” – but he also adds to this:
“Let’s be honest.”
spreading the word
FAM aims to connect 30 homeless clients to Samaritans over the next two years and grow a donor base for each. Grant money helps pay for the extra time case managers spend working with clients and overseeing profiles and donations. The organization is hoping to bring in more donors by reaching out to supporters, civic organizations and the community.
Elizabeth Andrade, chief executive of FAM, suggests that Samaritans have the potential to do two things – change lives for distinguished recipients and change a broader view of homelessness.
“It can change some people’s hearts, dispel misconceptions that (homeless people) don’t want to work,” Andrade said.
“It’s sending a very clear message that they definitely want to work,” she said. “And they want to be accountable.”
future way, Established in South Los Angeles About 30 years ago a former homeless person also began using the Samaritan platform in January. Today, it has 10 homeless people listed on the app and 50 donors.
Pathway board member Greco said his group plans to bring about 200 homeless people to Samaritan, which includes participants from the Skid Row districts of Los Angeles, Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
He said the challenge is introducing potential donors to the app. To that end, Pathway will partner with Joy Ride, a bicycle tour and rental company in Santa Monica, to launch an awareness campaign about Samaritans that will run from August to October. The “Change a Life” campaign will encourage Joy Ride riders to download and donate through the Samaritan app. Get more knowledge ptyf.org/join-the-samaritan-team.
“We are fully committed. We are mobilizing resources to support this,” Greco said. “We think this is a tremendous platform.”