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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Want to give something to a homeless person? there’s an app for that

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.

Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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