Giving back to our communities through volunteer service is a key initiative throughout projekt202.
Union Gospel Mission provides emergency care and services to homeless people in the greater Seattle area. It’s a growing and urgent need, as Seattle saw a 19% rise in homelessness in 2016.
Over the holidays, projekt202 Director of Business Development Jonathan Sinton rode with the mission’s Search & Rescue team, which drives across Seattle to distribute supplies to those in need. Jonathan shares his experience:
Recently, I attended Search & Rescue, thanks to the New Tech Seattle Meetup that Polly [Hopkins, projekt202 General Manager in Seattle] introduced me to and [New Tech’s] Brett Greene, who partners with the Union Gospel Mission. I really wasn’t prepared for the experience and impact it had on me.
Seattle has a huge homeless problem. There are estimated to be around 6,000 homeless people. Winter – with the darkness, cold and rain – is the worst time of year for the homeless here.
It was cold and pouring with rain when, as a group, we drove in a van from place to place where homeless people sleep, offering hot cocoa, blankets, food, hand warmers and donated clothes. The underpasses – with mud, trash, used needles and dirty tents – were pretty scary at first.
The experience changed when I met an older gentleman that our group had to convince to leave his shelter to receive food and clothing. We put everything he needed in a large bag, put it over his arm so he could walk and gave him hot cocoa to help him warm up. He was shivering so badly he couldn’t pick up the bag of items we were giving him. I had to pull his hood off and place a second hat over the one he was already wearing. From that point on, I felt I was making a difference.
The camaraderie of the Search & Rescue team was amazing. The people who did it regularly were all in high spirits. The experience and the people I met have stayed with me. So did the joy of being able to help a few of them feel a little better.
What I learned was that compassion – a desire to help – is my friend and, in this instance, empathy – by which I mean the feeling of what it was like to be in another’s shoes – was so overwhelming. However, I’m dialing up my compassion and going back to help the homeless of Seattle again in the future. I’ve already signed up for Monday, Jan. 16, to support the humanitarian work of Search & Rescue.
To learn more about Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and the Search & Rescue program, visit them online.