Recently, while sorting through a donation of winter coats, volunteers at Heroes for the Homeless found a bed bug. They immediately sealed all the clothing up in plastic bags and worried that they would have to dispose of everything. The last thing they wanted to do was bring bed bugs to the clients they serve.
Normally, the best way to treat bed bug infested clothing is to put it through the dryer set on high. (Here’s a video on heat treating bedding in a dryer–the same principle applies to clothing.) However, the laundromat that Heroes deals with, wouldn’t let them use their facilities to heat treat.
What to do? Fortunately, one of their volunteers had heard about ZappBug and reached out to us. We were honored to help and donated two ZappBug Ovens, so winter clothes could be heat treated and distributed to those in need.
Talking with the good folks at Heroes, we learned a lot about this remarkable organization.
Heroes for the Homeless serves some of those most vulnerable homeless people in the Seattle area. Heroes is run entirely by a small group of volunteers and has almost no overhead–nearly all resources go directly to help their clients.
The volunteers reach out to homeless people in areas that other providers of services don’t go, such as freeway underpasses, “urban jungles” along the I-5 corridor, and homeless “car campers” in the Ballard neighborhood. They provide clothes, food and even basic medical care. Here is a short film about the work they do.
Perhaps what is most impressive is that they do this on a regular basis and serve as an ongoing lifeline for many of their clients. In the winter they visit clients once per week and in the summer once per month. Depending upon the season they serve between 350 and 650 people. All of this from a dedicated band of about 25 active volunteers who spend up to 20 hours each per week during busy months.
The vast majority of Heroes’ clients are homeless due to external economic circumstances: Loss of job, traumatic event, too old to find manual labor, no retirement, no family support structure to help them in tough economic times. It’s striking how easy it is for decent people to fall through the cracks.
One of the biggest challenges for Heroes is raising money. Heroes acknowledges they are not great at fundraising. And often it can be difficult to get people to donate to the homeless. Many of the resources wind up coming from the volunteers, themselves.
We felt honored to be able to spend some time with the good folks at Heroes and felt good about donating ZappBug Ovens. If you are interested in getting involved with or donating to a charity that helps the homeless, we can recommend Heroes. They are very dedicated and do a tremendous amount of good with almost no overhead expenses.
If you would like to volunteer or sponsor one of their drives, more information can be found here.
If you would like to donate money to Heroes, you can do so via a PayPal button on their website.
If you have goods you would like donate or just want more information, you contact Heroes at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Andrew Havlis