We just shifted into a new gear with our hospitality kit distribution

We just shifted into a new gear with our hospitality kit distribution

Huge success on our first day distributing kits at the Gig Harbor YMCA. We're super excited about how much this is going to help us grow and reach even more of our homeless neighbors!

WWU's Catholic Newman Center December Mission

WWU's Catholic Newman Center December Mission

Thanks to the Newman Center up at Western Washington University for distributing some of our kits last December. This entry, written by Anton Ziska, is a great reflection on the work and impact that we make when we work together.

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Adopt-A-Road

Adopt-A-Road

Northwest Hospitality has adopted a two-mile stretch of road in Kitsap County to maintain. We're looking forward to making our roads all sparkly clean. If you want to adopt a road as part of a Northwest Hospitality group, we'd be honored to add you to our retinue.

What are we putting in these hospitality kits?!?!

What are we putting in these hospitality kits?!?!

Our universal kits contain a first aid kit with $1.27 worth of materials plus other hygiene- and snack-related items which bring the total kit cost up to $6.82. This cost would be $8.82 if it weren't for a couple large donations of socks and soap. Today's blog post takes us into an analysis of our kit contents and we welcome your thoughts and feedback!

Deep Dive Chapter 3: Impact Visualization

Deep Dive Chapter 3: Impact Visualization

Our third deep dive plunges into the fathoms of how Northwest Hospitality shares our impact with you. From live annual summaries to distribution maps, everything we have is at your fingertips.

Deep Dive Chapter 2: Donation Options

Deep Dive Chapter 2: Donation Options

We strive to allow you to make our programs yours. This Deep Dive is all about your options as a donor. Donate so that you know 100% of your contribution makes it directly to those in need. Or find a useful balance between that and supporting our operation. We describe here what we do to put the power to choose in your hands.

Effectively Zero Fees were Deducted from Your 2017 Kit & Card Account Donations!

Fees paid by donors contributing to our Card & Kit account in 2017 have been paid for by our operating cost budget. This means that EVERY PENNY of your contributions from 2017 ended up helping someone in need directly. Thank you!

Deep Dive Chapter 1: Donation

Deep Dive Chapter 1: Donation

One of the characteristics that we hope sets Northwest Hospitality apart, is our transparency and the accessibility of information that might be useful to our donors. Our deep dive series of blog posts is intended to give you more information than you could possibly want while hopefully answering all your questions instead of giving you more. Chapter I is focused on the Donation tracking tool on our Operation Details page.

Call for Grant Writers

Last year we spent some time applying for grants to no avail. It's extremely challenging so if we happen to have any supporters out there who are versed in finding appropriate grants, understanding what exactly they are looking for, and writing strong applications, we'd be very grateful to benefit from your expertise. 

If it's possible, I am willing to learn from you and make an attempt at the work myself. But if you are willing (or maybe even eager :) ) to take on such a task, we'd love to welcome someone into the fold as an official grant writer. Please get in touch if you think you might be interested or want more information!

Haircuts for Our Homeless Neighbors

Meet our new project, Haircuts for Our Homeless Neighbors. We will be distributing haircut vouchers in our hospitality kits to allow our neighbors the freedom to get their hair cut anywhere, anytime, on us.

Street Soccer Seattle

NWH is working on our networking skills. Today, after an hour of distributing hospitality cards and kits in Seattle, Anton met (and played soccer) with some of the folks over at Street Soccer Seattle. They meet at University Presbyterian with a mission to bring people living on the street into their program to help them learn life skills and offer a healthy, fun activity.

Soccer meshes teamwork, individual effort, and many other invaluable virtues that make it a great tool for improvements in many different aspects of life. Street Soccer Seattle has brought its team around the country for tournaments and always represents Seattle well.

We met after their practice about where the strategies of our two organizations might overlap and how we can help each other. For now they are helping to distribute a few kits and I've included cards about their community in the kits that will be handed out around the University District. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together.

OSL

I had a great meeting with some folks at OSL (Only Serving Love) today. We are working through the final details on how they can be a financial sponsor for my new non-profit, Puget Sound Hospitality. I'm really looking forward to working with the folks at OSL, they're really doing a lot of great work.
After the meeting I had the opportunity to help serve lunch at their outdoor meal site under the freeway. There were a lot of volunteers so I cleaned up the eating area which gave me the chance to talk to people about the kits we'll be putting together. I didn't learn a whole lot... It's fairly intuitive, but there does appear to be a genuine interest and need.
We didn't hand out any of my kits at lunch because I only had about 12 and there was at least 100 folks being served. On my way back to the ferry though, I was able to hand out 4 kits which were graciously received...often with a bit of a confused look as they tried to figure out what the heck I was giving them. I did get one "I only need a couple bucks and I'll have enough for some beers" so I really like having this cash-alternate option.
Now I'm in the process of website and kit development. I've got to develop contents for feminine hygiene, youth, and pet specific kits. If you have and ideas I'd love to hear them, just comment or email me. Once OSL helps me get set up I can do some fundraising, build some kits, and look into an order of subway cards for the kits and then that phase of the project can take off. I'm really excited about that aspect, I hope it goes as well as it's going in my head...
The website, still very much in development, can be found at www.sites.google.com/site/pugetsoundhospitality
Or use bit.ly/PSHospitality
Might be a bit before there's much to see there but I always appreciate feedback.
...suppose I should do some homework.

New Project!

Wow has it been a long time! I have a new project I've been working on lately that fits this blog like a glove so let's bring it back :)

Back in 2012 I had an idea that I posted on Starbuck's idea page called Share Mug. Basically I wanted to give people gift cards that would be useful so stick the bar code on a re-usable mug and give it out that way. The idea didn't get any votes so I tried to repurpose it into something that would still work. I contacted some folks at several banks and card companies to try to devise something I called the Samaritan Card. The idea here is to have cards, as opposed to cash, to hand out to people that are asking for help. The cards could be one-use or reloadable, linked to an account that you manage online...I even toyed with some ideas of having scannable barcodes or QR codes on the cards so that other people could donate to that card with their phones. Unfortunately this died a quick death when it came time to actually execute any aspects of it because none of the card companies could figure out a way to make it work.

I can't get this desire out of my head. It would be such a useful tool in the fight against hunger, making it easier for people to be generous and removing a few of the barriers some people experience when thinking about giving that handout...not all of the barriers but it eliminates a few such as wondering if the cash will be used to purchase drugs, alcohol, or smokes. To this end, I wanted to have these cards accepted at restricted locations where such purchases would be at least minimized (this was before the laws changed, back when liquor couldn't be purchased at the grocery store or gas station). But the idea didn't go anywhere so it's apparently been percolating in my subconscious and recently returned with a vengeance .

For the past few months I've been working on putting together Homeless Hospitality Kits.


Through bulk orders at Fred Meyer I've got the cost down below $5 per kit which is typically less than I'd probably want to give someone begging on the street. Pack this all in the Ziplock baggie and you can toss them willy nilly whenever you see someone that is asking for a little help. 

I am currently "in talks" with a non-profit, OSL, to see if I can create an account under their 501(c)(3) for me to fund raise into and fund the purchase of these kits from there. If it doesn't work out with OSL then I'll keep looking...I could start my own non-profit but I am of the opinion that there are too many out there and it's better for everybody if we can simplify that front a little. If it all goes as I have it worked out in my mind this will be a rare 100% charity, 0% overhead, which means all of the donations go directly to helping people.

I am also still researching, with recurring frustration, other solutions for a reloadable card, similar to my original Samaritan Card idea, to be included in the kits. If I can create enough funding for that account then I could hand out hundreds of these cards and people could have reliable money for food on at least a weekly basis (frequency and amount of reloads would be completely reliant on how much money got put in that non-profit account). Right now it looks like Subway cards are the only feasible option. For some reason none of the more generic reloadable cards offer the same flexibility, account management, and freedom to donate the cards. The positive to this is that it really does eliminate that pervasive concern that funds will be misattributed to nefarious purposes. The, in my opinion larger, negative to this is that Subway only offers delicious sandwiches. The money on the cards would not be able to be used toward health items, foods that aren't at Subway like fruits, veggies, and canned goods, or clothing items.

One item on the immediate to-do list is to compile a Feminine Hygiene Accessory Kit that can accompany the Homeless Hospitality Kit when appropriate. If you have any suggestions for items that should or should not be included in this, including brands and other ways to make it generically as useful as possible please comment on this post or email me with your ideas since I'm a little clueless there ;)

Eventually I may begin to sell these kits at cost so that I can increase the reach of the program. So far I've given a few kits to folks to hand out but until today I had not even given one out myself! I am a bit more removed than I used to be from the homeless issue since we moved to Port Orchard but I hope to head to Seattle to cycle through some of these in a somewhat regular fashion. Today my Botany class met on the grounds of the Tacoma Community College nature area and discussed a lot about collecting plants for the course and other aspects of the class. We were standing on the trail and just a few feet into the bushes was a pile of blankets and personal effects, a little homeless habitat. After the class was over I placed one of the kits into the little camp. There was nobody there but hopefully whoever is reduced to sleeping in those conditions will enjoy the surprise when they return to their spot. Who knows, that could be a student on campus with nowhere else to stay...or it could be a despicable cretin who is a bane on society...there's no way for me to know but that shouldn't stop a little generosity. 

A bit of a rambly post today but it's been so long that I've got to get back into the stride here.