In order to provide for people in need, we must understand what is needed by the people. For our first project, we acquaint with the immediate needs of the people with the help of Civic Center Round Table located in Santa Ana, CA (a locally organized group comprised of members within the homeless community and social activists with a strong desire to relieve the condition of homelessness through strategic action).
The goal of Project RiSING is to address the specific and immediate needs of the homeless community in Santa Ana, in order to provide “in-place comfort”, Phase I of our developmental strategy.
The following is an outline of the needs that we will focus on and reveals what is needed in order to accomplish our objectives. We hope supporters will consider these needs and help us succeed with Project RiSING.
Being homeless often accompanies being without an efficient or reliable means of transportation, which without can be crippling, especially when one relies on being able to appear at various agencies to apply and receive government assistance. For this reason, transportation is a critical component in helping people rise out of homelessness. We want to provide a means for people with the desire to make progress, not only in self-development to enable one’s survival but also advance toward the ultimate goal of contributing to a thriving society. Transportation provides a footing in that climb up to the summit.
(1) Self-Sustained & Operated Transportation
Local city, county, and private mass transportation agencies while useful and effective for the objectives that each set out to accomplish, the cost can be prohibitive for our most impoverished populations in most need of these services. This necessitates a free mode of transit to remove the challenges of transportation upon which many other components to RiSING are reliant.
Our aim is to provide dedicated transit lines using passenger vans and/or small buses (depending on cost) to transport individuals to frequently accessed government agencies (Social Security, DMV, City Hall, etc…), shelters, resource centers, developmental services, and places of employment within a designated region.
We design the plan routes, vehicles will be operated by qualified individuals within the impoverished communities, which creates opportunities for employment and provides a kind of self-sustaining cooperative model of transportation within the community.
Expenses include gas, vehicle maintenance, and insurance which will be subsidized through a dedicated fund provided by The Heart of Delight. There’s also opportunities here for help from sponsors.
Biking is an economical and sustainable method of transportation that provides an added health benefit for individuals who can make use of it. The initial investment and on-going costs are minimal compared to vehicle ownership or mass transportation. We’d like to provide reconditioned bicycles to individuals who can use biking as an effective means of transportation.
Through partnerships with local bike shops, enthusiast organizations dedicated to the art of biking, and government entities, we will create a closed-loop sustainable program to (1) acquire used bikes, (2) recondition them for safe use, (3) educate bikers on safety and legal rights, (4) provide bikers with safety/maintenance equipment, and (5) tune-ups to protect riders and ensure longevity of the bikes being donated.
Bike Repair Kits—
Clients that already have their own bikes can also be introduced to the program to obtain the additional benefits provided. In particular, repair kits are essential for bikers to have while on the road and are akin to having a spare tire for a car. The kits we provide include a comprehensive set of tools useful for preventative maintenance and can help bikers get rolling again from various mishaps encountered while on the road.
Furthermore, bike safety equipment and education on biking laws can provide bikers with comfort and an informed perspective while sharing the road.
II. Storage & Travel
One of the greatest burdens of being homeless is not having a space where one can store one’s belongings without it being disturbed, stolen, or seized by city officials. The most frustrating and discouraging aspect is that what few possessions one may have one is at constant risk of losing it all through theft or seizure.
How can one be empowered to rise out of homelessness when one is constantly forced to start over emtpy-handed? The solution for some is to port all of their belongings everywhere in a cart, suitcase, backpack, dufflebag, or similar artifice, hiding it in various out-of-sight places whenever one needs to go the restroom or leave it unattended temporarily for whatever reason. However, this presupposes that one is equipped with a viable mode of transport and is physically able to endure the burden. Furthermore, this becomes a greater concern when one has to report to a job site or social services agency and it becomes absolutely impractical, even impossible, to transport everything along the way to these destinations.
This is why having access to a storage solution while one is working towards rising out of the condition of homelessness is critical to sustaining progress. These solutions can come from readily available storage spaces provided by companies specializing in this business and/or creative makeshift solutions on any available/permitted open space.
(1) Commercial Storage
Rent commercial units for temporary storage of personal belongings to relieve the burden it may pose for those in transition. Units are managed by a designated representative of the organization and a system for managing the flow of such belongings will be instated for security. With the support of a commercial sponsor through donation of storage unit rentals, we can help expedite the transition process of individuals committed to mitigating their circumstances to become independent, productive members of society contributing to a collective rising.
(2) Mobile Localized Storage
Open-air parking lots near homeless populations are convenient spaces for temporary placement of industrial storage containers that provide an economical and secure storage solution in the heart of where homelessness resides. Donors can help us lease or purchase containers for this purpose and we will assume the responsibility of acquiring the necessary space, legal permits as necessary, and the management of its operation.
(3) Make-shift Storage Facility
Existing structures such as multi-level parking ramps naturally accommodates temporary make-shift installations to be installed at a fraction of the cost compared to purchasing a container. The challenge is to find locations that have the ideal structural accommodations (bottom floor corner of a parking ramp where there’s already walls on 2 – 3 sides, and a natural ceiling, thus creating an easily enclosed space) that are close to populations in need and to negotiate with its owners this potential use. If these challenges can be surmounted, the rewards may be a sustainable and low-cost solution for a temporary storage space.
(4) Stow and Carry Personal Storage
How often have we seen people on the streets struggle to carry their things in ripped up plastic bags or odd containers that are found in the trash somewhere? We can empower the homeless with an elegant, safe, and convenient means to store their “carry-on” belongings. This helps to reduce the chance of important belongings from falling out incidentally, damaged, or possibly stolen by another desperate member of the community.
Ultra-portable day-packs (ultra-light, and compacts down to fit on a key-ring) as a “standard issue” for all members of the homeless community to help with porting personal belongings and other essentials.
Travel wallets to store important documents, preventing the loss of critical identification for receiving vital social services (State ID, Health Insurance, Passport, Special Status or Services Recipient Info, etc…)
(5) Smart Carts for Easy Travel
Shopping carts are often spotted on the streets as a solution for some to transport belongings. We’d like to provide a more elegant and versatile solution to fulfill the need of item transport. This can potentially reduce the number of shopping carts that wander off the supermarket parking lots.
Provide a luggage/utility cart (Smart Cart) that acts as a lightweight travel companion, folds up for easy storage, and has a load capacity of up to 110 lbs.
(6) Suitcases for Mobile Storage & Transport
Suitcases provide mobility, elegance, and utility for storing and transporting items over distances. An individual can store basic living necessities including clothing, hygiene kits, toiletries, and other personal belongings in one place enabling quick access to items often-used while on-the-go.
We live in a society that values cleanliness. As such, when we see someone there is an instinctive visual assessment that categorizes the person based on their physical appearance. In some cases, it is based on what they wear and the condition of the articles that are worn. This is one common indicator of someone who is homeless simply because they don’t have either the money or the access to facilities to refresh their clothing. Often these articles of clothing are also accompanied by an odor as a result of the accumulation of sweat and other undesirable odor-causing bacteria.
Which begs the question, how is someone empowered for re-integration into society, to interact with others in order to find work, to stand in line to apply for social services, when they are instantly judged by their shabby appearance and detracting scent? It’s obvious then why the homeless form a community in order to feel a sense of belonging; to find a home where there is none. In a society easily dominated by sensory stimuli, visual being predominant, it becomes apparent how presentation and the mere fact of being able to have clean laundry can impact one’s livelihood and the ability to regain composure from a prone disposition.
(1) Rechargeable Laundry Cards
Through partnerships with local laundromats and design of a sustainable, efficient system of delivering funds to use for washing / drying laundry.
Maintain multiple rechargeable laundry cards for use at a local laundromat, managed by the staff and coordinated with the respective owners of the local establishments.
IV. Document Fund
To have identity is to exist. This statement carries with it the significance of how specific pieces of laminated paper can be imbued with such power in modern society. Especially in a volatile time, anonymity is becoming a dying luxury. If the impoverished seek to rise from this disposition, then establishing identity in an ego-centric society is one of the master keys to unlocking all of the services and resources available.
(1) California State ID Reduced Fee Form
As an approved nonprofit to dispense this form to qualifying individuals, we can help low-income and impoverished residents achieve one of the first and most important keys to unlocking other vital social services
Pre-printed checks payable to California DMV for the exact amount of the reduced fee
(2) Birth Certificate Copy Request Form & Fee Voucher
Yet another vital document that is interconnected with specific services that require proof of one’s birth
Pre-printed checks written to City County-Clerk for the exact amount
(3) Document Notarization
Free mobile notary services to all clients that we serve
To be disconnected and isolated, deprived of a means to communicate with others can be detrimental to one’s development, especially when the goal is to re-socialize and re-connect with the collective community. In the age of technology, there are certain necessities that enable one to efficiently communicate with others that without may put one at a disadvantaged and can even slow desired progress. One doesn’t necessarily have to be fully immersed in the digital world, but having functional knowledge of computers, technology, the internet, and access to technologies that allow one to communicate with others on the same playing field is indeed an integral part of self-development in modern society.
(1) Google Services
a. Personal Email Address—
Email address are a dime a dozen; if you don’t have one yet, now is the time and we can help you setup a free account as well as provide basic instruction to get you started with staying in touch with family, applying for a job, or submitting info to an agency to receive desired social services.
b. Personal Phone Number—
A primary mode of communication; land-lines that are tied to a physical location such as a home lie mostly dormant as mobile phones flood the market. For the homeless, a mobile phone is the only option. However, cellular service can be costly, and porting numbers from one carrier to the next can be a hassle. Fortunately, one can obtain a Google Number that can forward to another existing number, so that one can maintain a reliable number. We can help individuals setup this service for free and further explore how this can be a very useful tool for the homeless community.
(2) VoiceMail Service
We provide one toll-free number, create for individuals a unique extension. Family, friends, employers, or any contact can call the number and leave a voicemail which then is digitally recorded, transcribed, and sent to one’s email address for easy retrieval. This is an economical and low-maintenance service for us to provide a way for one to stay in touch if cellular access is too cost-prohibitive or unavailable.
(3) Many-to-One Connected Cellular Service
While it may be ideal to provide the impoverished community each with an individual cellphone to empower RiSING, the reality may be such that it is cost-prohibitive and therefore the ideal would not materialize for lack of financial feasibility. However, a powerful and effective system of cellular service distribution can, in effect, achieve a similar result but with much less overhead.
For example, a wireless company can sponsor and donate 10 lines on a single plan and provide accompanying phones. Individuals that we setup with Google phone numbers can forward their calls to one of these 10 lines on an interim basis while they continue to work at achieving financial independence. This will allow us to rotate cellular service through many individuals in need with very little overhead in the actual number of lines needed. Furthermore, multiple Google numbers may forward to the same line which would enable groups of individuals living in close proximity to share one line on one phone. Once the user no longer needs the service one can simply re-route their Google number elsewhere and free up the line for another to use.
(4) Centralized Digital Calendar for Important Appointments
Everyone has certain legal obligations that need to be met in a timely manner, for people on the streets, these appointments can have a dramatic effect on their livelihood; thus it is important to find a system, as with anyone else, to help provide reminders of the important appointments. Google Calendar offers a robust and easy-to-use interface that comes at zero cost. Weekly appointments can be posted in hardcopy in a designated location. A 4G Tablet with access to the calendar managed by a responsible internal member of the impoverished community can be used to centrally input/update appointments on-the-fly, creating a system that is easy-to-access and manage for the benefit of a large group of people in need.
(5) Vital Document Scanning and Secure Cloud Storage
In modern society, people are reliant on physical documents to secure material and legal rights. The burden of homelessness necessitates carrying these documents on or near oneself at all times while running into constant risk of theft, loss, or defilement. We offer a solution that can alleviate some of this worry by creating digital copies of documents that can be safely and securely stored with multi-point backups, and accessible for re-print or to reference as needed.
VI. Safety / Comfort / Survival
Sleep regenerates. It heals the body and mends the mind. Without it, one is subject to incessant stress and over time this can take a physical/mental toll. Not only does one need to engage in the act of sleep but also the quality that is attained matters to optimal functioning. Imagine how you may feel after just one night of restlessness, tossing and turning, unable to achieve the continuity of a regenerative sleep cycle; at least you may be on a cushioned bed, in a safe and comfortable home.
Now imagine removing the safety since there’s no barriers to keep you safe from another’s intent, take away the comfort because you’re lying on hard concrete or dirt, add the constant whining of your stomach from hunger or biological reactions from consuming low-quality food, the mind is plagued from endless financial worries and about where to get the next meal, how to escape the downward spiral and the temptation of substance abuse, while the body is ravaged at the mercy of the elements.
Homelessness is perilous; it is a condition of survival, and we do not want anyone to have to survive on their own, left alone like savages in the wild without the aid of a community and resources to create a bridge to enable the stage for thriving.
To that end, we want to empower our impoverished populations with resources to help remove the fundamental challenges on the path of RiSING. Simple, elegant, and effective solutions that target the specific needs of the individual within the context of which it is relevant and desired. The combination of these complimentary resources will help to remove the binds of homelessness in order for the impoverished to be less encumbered and free to make that climb to the summit.
Ultra-light, weather-repellent, highly-compressible sleeping bags that protect from the cold and other elements of the streets.
Self-inflating, travel-light pillows
Waterproof, weatherproof, reflects 90% of body heat, ultra-portable, great for “emergency” conditions
(2) Summer Showers
Ultra-portable, durable, and provides up to 20-minute shower
(3) Quick-Drying Towels
Towels constructed from materials that are fast-absorbing and quick drying, yet light-weight
(4) Tools & Utilities
Most often food donations come in cans and without the right implements, one cannot gain access to the food even if one is holding it in their hands. Carrying along all of the necessary tools for every survival scenario can be encumbering, inefficient. What if we can distill these basic needs into a few ultra-convenient tools that can be a utility in all the common scenarios? We ventured to find economical, light-weight/portable yet durable, and sustainable solutions to achieve this objective.
All purpose first aid kit for minor wounds to help prevent infection
Multi-tool camping tool, portable and useful for various applications
Military-grade ultra-portable can openers (P-38 / P-51) for convenience and access to canned goods on the go.