9 Creative & Heartwarming Ideas for Helping the Homeless
1The good Samaritan artist who turns trash into mobile homes
Kindhearted builder Gregory Kloehn's Homeless Homes project is providing cool little mobile domiciles to homeless people in Oakland, CA, which he creates using materials gathered while dumpster-diving in industrial neighborhoods.
Gregory's custom homes are around the size of a sofa, and they all come on wheels. They are charming and often retain the look and texture of the source material.
2The artist who created inflatable shelters for the homeless using HVAC vents
Many of these creations are variations of a design concept that he calls ParaSITE. His ParaSITE shelters are custom-built assemblies of plastic bags and tarps that feed off of excess heat provided by building heating systems. Rakowitz's inflatable shelters channel that heat into warming their owners.
Rakowitz designs the shelters to fit the needs of the individual owners. The one at the top was designed to get around anti-camping laws in New York City. The one on the bottom has windows so that the resident can see any approaching threats.
3The man who installed a "charity refrigerator" outside his home
People can donate food if they have an excess or take food if they need it. Salah, a Bahraini national, said that the idea should be implemented in Bahrain as the fasting month of Ramadan is about to start in the summer.
4The couple who decided to have a feast for the homeless after their daughter cancelled her wedding
5The artists who create appealing signs for the homeless to raise awareness
The basic concept behind the ongoing project is that the two artists approach homeless people on the streets who are holding signs and propose an exchange. As their tag line states: "A sign in exchange for donations and a hand painted sign." Nakayama and Hope offer $10 and create hand painted signs for each person they come across.
Having launched a blog in February 2012 (though their first post features a man that was approached in 2010), the duo document their undertaking with a before and after photo of these people they swap signs with along with a brief interview offering some insight into their circumstances. The signs themselves are bright and colorful in an effort to gain attention and feature all of the same text that their old pieces of cardboard had (including any misspellings and grammatical errors).
6The ONG who created a pop up store for people to donate clothes to the homeless
Made up of cardboard boxes, some of these displays have holes in them so that passers-by can hang their unwanted or unworn clothes on them. Homeless people would then be able to choose their own clothes from these pop-up displays.
Although many homeless people are given clothes at the shelter, these roadside stores make it easier for people to donate and help those who are less fortunate.
7The former homeless man who created the “Bicycle Library” to bring books to the needy
The "Bicicloteca" (the name is a fusion of the Portuguese words for "bicycle" and "library") lends books to people who don't have access to libraries. It is the brainchild of 61-year old Mendonça, a former construction worker who spent a decade living on the streets.
Green Mobility, a Brazilian non-profit organization which campaigns for sustainable transport in Brazilian cities, helped Mendonça get started by giving him his bike. All the books were donated by individuals and organizations.
After just one year, Mendonça has become a familiar face in the streets of Sao Paulo and the Bicycle Library has made more than 107,000 loans from its collection of 30,000 books. There are even some books in Braille. There's no paperwork involved in borrowing from the library; the service is based on trust and relies on the honesty of its users to return their books.
8The retired barber who gives homeless people haircuts in exchange for hugs
Anthony Cymerys started offering his barber services to those less fortunate in 1988, after hearing a sermon about the homeless. He had just retired and was only cutting hair for family, but the words he had heard in church were such an inspiration, he prepared his tools, put them in the car and started driving around town looking for people in need of his services. In the beginning, he helped people in shelters and convalescent homes, then he cut hair at the downtown YMCA, before moving to Bushnell Park. Every Wednesday, the park is packed with homeless people waiting for a relaxing haircut, shave and facial massage from the 82-year-old Joe.
As soon as he parks his 1996 Crown Victoria and connects his clippers to the car battery, Cymerys is assaulted with questions about who should be the first in his barber chair. He asks his customers about the desired haircut style, and starts clipping, trimming and shaving. After that, the former barber splashes some rubbing alcohol on his hands and proceeds to massage face, ears, neck, throat and shoulders. All he asks in exchange is a nice big hug.
Giving haircuts may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but it's actually very important. Homeless people have a hard time finding jobs because of the way the look, so Anthony is really helping them out of a hairy situation in more ways than one.
9The dry cleaners that offer free services for the unemployed
High Point-based "A Cleaner World" cleaners made a similar announcement in 2009. ABC News' local affiliate in Durham reports that for unemployed job seekers, A Cleaner World would clean a suit or a blazer and slacks, plus two shirts per week. Women could get a suit and two shirts or blouses or two regular dresses per week.
Elite Cleaners in Minneapolis has also generously followed suit. Owner Don Chapman has donated his services to 2000 unemployed -- an offer he estimates will cost him $32,000.
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