Forgotten Friends Project Aims To Help Forgotten Homeless


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by Theresa De Lay

Homelessness is a huge problem all across the country. In recent years, the economic downfall of our society has caused countless more men, women and children to call the streets their home. Just within Seattle, there is an estimated population of more than 6,000 homeless people.

Being homeless is a devastating and vicious cycle. With no place to clean their clothes or take a shower, it often proves difficult for the homeless to acquire and maintain jobs. Homeless youth are at higher risk for depression, rape and abuse. Dropping out of high school, turning to drugs and resorting to a criminal lifestyle are all too common.

Spending a wintry night outside is most assuredly a death sentence in other areas. Thankfully we live in the Pacific Northwest, an area known for its ‘mild’ weather. Try telling that to a Seattle-area homeless family as they are huddled together to keep their children warm.

It’s difficult to fight homelessness. With the economy in shambles, most of us don’t have a penny to spare and the local government is scrounging to fit budgetary needs with very little money. Job openings are hard to come by and financial assistance is even harder. Sadly and quite obviously, this is a predicament with no easy fix.

Venessa Stiffarm

Amidst the uphill battle against homelessness, I’m proud to bring you news about the Forgotten Friends Project. It began when Venessa Stiffarm humbly dreamt of giving 20 homeless ‘friends’ a small holiday gift this December; a card with $5 and a scarf to stay warm.

Venessa was born and raised in West Seattle and attended Chief Sealth High School. Known for her loving and generous nature, she lived on the streets for two of her teenage years. When asked about this experience she said:

“I know what it is like to be hungry and have no food. I was forced to steal it from the grocery stores. Many days, I didn’t eat at all. I remember my first night out, and how cold I was and scared. It was September of 2000 and it was just the start of the rainy season.”

It’s only natural for her to reach out to others now. Seattle is her home, and the people of Seattle are her family. After telling her friends and family about her plans for the FFP, it took on a life of its own.

The goal of the FFP has shifted, but only slightly. The FFP is now collecting holiday cards, small monetary gifts to include in the cards, hats, scarves and gloves. On December 11th, FFP volunteers will pass out the cards and small gifts to the homeless people of Seattle.

With a month to go before The Big Give Away Day, the FFP will be able to reach out to a lot more than the 20 people Venessa originally thought of. When asked about her vision for the FFP, Venessa said that she wants to “show those who are homeless that people really do care about them. Maybe by raising awareness more people will be willing to work on creating lasting solutions to the problem.”

Take a moment to imagine the impact if each person donated one dollar or told one friend about this project. Imagine the smiles, the warmth and the compassion that we can give others! Consider the difference we can make in someone’s life – no matter how small.

Find out more about the Forgotten Friends Project on Facebook:

“We could change someone’s life by the simplest act of kindness; a holiday card to those who would otherwise be forgotten this season.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Alex O’Neal

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Comments

4 Responses to “Forgotten Friends Project Aims To Help Forgotten Homeless”
  1. Lavada Cook says:

    I am so proud of both Venessa and Theresa! I feel blessed to know them. Venessa’s idea of helping others in a small way has snowballed and taken on a life of its own. I believe this is because of the passion of these two extraordinary young women. Both of them live on extremely tight budgets yet they have managed through their passion and belief to bring life to a project to help the neediest and most forgotten of our neighbors! I urge all to give what they can! A dollar or a pair of gloves. Every little bit helps. I hope that the author of this article will give us a report after the Give Away Day!! I would be extremely interested in knowing how many our little gifts helped.
    Lavada Cook

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  2. Venessa Stiffarm says:

    I just want to thank my 2 Assistants Diana Walker, and Theresa for helping me make this project so big! I never imagined i would have so many supporters. It’s been humbling to see how many people actually care about this issue and are willing to help us spead love and kindness.
    I am blessed to have so many thoughtful and caring people in my life who go above and beyond every day to show compassion.
    This whole experience is very humbling, and I am just getting started.

    Thank you so much to everyone who is supporting us.
    Venessa

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    • Eaton B. Verz says:

      As I was going through the articles and comments on this blog it occured to me that this is exactly the kind of giving this country really needs right now. In these tough economic times, while everyone is complaining about Gov’t spending and social programs costing too much, we have a great example of what the private sector can do!!! I encourage everyone to get involved. Make a donation or volunteer some time. If not this project, pick one you want to support. Quit your bitchin’ and do your part!

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  3. Diana Walker says:

    I fully support this project. These are my friends, neighbors, sisters. All it takes is an open mind, and open heart and the desire to make some one else smile. It’s a huge impact, just a simple scarf, gloves or card. Every day we should take the extra steps to make some one else know they impact some one’s life. We can do that. to Quote Bruce Almighty “Be the miracle.”

    As we are all discovering, it takes us, the people, to make a real change. WE have to be the ones to show what our community is made of. I know this community can show our “Forgotten Friends” that they haven’t been forgotten. I hope this is just the start. I look forward to seeing some real action to finding permanent housing for the thousands struggling to just get by to tomorrow.

    Thank you to all who have already donated or dedicated time. We, your friends, thank you with all our hearts.

    ~Diana Walker~

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