Posted by: htenhoope | October 7, 2010

Project 50/50

Well I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve been busy with work and most recently with promoting Shay Kelley’s (Project 50/50) to Maryland in particular to Hagerstown and Frederick.

Let me tell you a little about Project 50/50:
I learned about this back in May of this year when I read an article on the CNN web site about this project.
The project was started by a woman with the name Shay Kelley.
She became homeless in April 2009 after she lost her job, her house and her car was stolen.
Instead of ‘being’ homeless she was able to turn this bad situation into a good goal in life.
She was able to get a used pickup truck in August 2009 and decided to put it to good use.
She came up with the idea to drive the truck through 50 states in 50 weeks (Project 50/50), going through one state per week. All through those travels she sleeps mostly in her pickup truck (who she calls Bubba) with her dog Zuzu.

During her visit to each state, she was going door-to-door collecting non-perishable food items, socks and other items that homeless people may need.
She would then distribute these items to homeless people, food banks and other local organizations that help homeless people.
It turned out that she also donated stuff to animal shelters etc. Depending on the need and whatever she collected.
She also volunteered and shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, etc.
She would find homeless people on the streets and sit and talk to them, give them food, socks, water and whatever else she collected and they needed. Even if it was just holding there hand and talk, or a hug.

I followed her travels around through Facebook and Twitter and as she came closer to Maryland I knew it was time for me to do something to help her out.
I started asking my friends and family to donate non-perishable food items and socks and get them to me so that I could give them to Shay.
I lobbied with local the TV station, Radio station and newspapers to try to get some kind of coverage about her project.
Maryland was state number 40.

Last Tuesday was the day she would be coming to Hagerstown after spending 3 days in Baltimore.
By Tuesday evening I had my SUV full with donations when she arrived at our house.
I had booked a hotel room for two nights for her so that she wouldn’t have to sleep in her truck as the nights were already getting colder.
We took her out to dinner and listened to her stories as we had dinner. Touching stories of her travels and the work she did.
After this we took her to the hotel and the next day was planned.

I finally got response from the Frederick newspaper and received a call from a reporter asking when Shay will be in Frederick. So we decided to go to Frederick on Wednesday and meet him at the shelter.

Yesterday, we first got Shay’s truck in the shop to have it checked out by our friend Howie.
After that I took Shay and Zuzu in the SUV to Frederick and met the reporter at the shelter and he kind of tagged along with us as we got a tour through the shelter, clinic, soup kitchen, and the food bank.
But before we got to the shelter and we walked along Caroll Creek there was a homeless man sleeping on a bench. Shay stopped as I held Zuzu and she laid a pair of socks, a bottle of water and some food next to him on the bench and we walked on not wanting to wake him up.
I witnessed first hand what Shay does throughout the US.

After we were done at the shelter, we walked back to the car on the other side of Caroll Creek and there was a homeless lady sitting down. We stopped and talked to her for a while and Shay gave her some socks, she didn’t need anything else she said.
She kept asking us if we were from the church.

We went back to Hagerstown to pick up Tanya and Shay’s truck from the shop.
Howie the owner of the shop (and a friend of ours) didn’t charge Shay anything for looking and working on her truck. God bless him.

We all went back to Frederick to volunteer at the soup kitchen from 5-7 PM to help feed the homeless to a warm dinner. What an experience that was. It felt so good to give these people food. There were children in the soup kitchen line. That was heart breaking. Children being homeless, unbelievable.
After that we also volunteered to hand out food packages to people with little financial support at the food bank from 7-9 PM.
We met with a lot of good people who all volunteered to help out.
Unfortunately a lot of the big storage bins in the back are empty and they are waiting on the next food drive. Those bins should be full.

After that we went back to Hagerstown and called it a day.
I can tell you, one day with Shay from Project 50/50 can turn your whole thinking about homelessness around. What a remarkable woman to take on this project by herself and not settle into her own homeless situation.

Try volunteering at a shelter, food bank, or soup kitchen for a day. Talk to a homeless person on the street, give that person a snack, water, and socks. It really makes you feel so good inside knowing that you did something good. Put your heart back in the right place.

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