Welcome to www.HomelessPartners.com
Connecting the community to individual homeless people
The Purpose
The purpose of the Homeless Partners Wish List is to help people connect personally and directly with individual homeless people in their own city in a way that is safe and practical. We believe that a powerful way to help the homeless is to know their stories and to connect with them person-to-person. Although this effort has begun during the Christmas season, kindness can be shown daily by acknowledging them on the street, speaking with them, bringing them food, and encouraging them.
Who We Are
Homeless Partners is a non-profit, self-funded program run entirely by volunteer efforts, in partnership with the staff at shelters where the program is offered. The Wish List began as a response to the growing problem of homelessness and the belief that caring for the poor is central to the message of Jesus. We have no head office or official organization. Our program is coordinated by a small number of individuals, who assist volunteers from local churches in starting and running the program in their city. For more information about the program, please see the contact page above. For more information about a church of Christ near you, where you will be very welcome, please go to or . For a Bible study free of charge see .
The Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List was started by Dan and Jennie Keeran in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2005. They got their inspiration and direction for the project from a very old, all-time best-selling book of wisdom. It talked about the importance of having a vision for helping the poor and loving your neighbours.
When they first moved to the heart of downtown Vancouver, they saw lots of men pushing grocery carts with plastic garbage bags filled to capacity with bottles and cans. They were curious about what they were doing with them and where they were going so they stopped and talked with them.
On one October morning, while sitting in a Vancouver restaurant, looking toward the beautiful ocean view at English Bay, they saw one of these men with carts who had spent the night on a park bench. They bought some muffins and juice at the restaurant and decided to offer him some breakfast. He accepted the food with gratitude and brought their attention to a mirror from which he was scraping off the silver on the back to create a beautiful piece of art. After hearing some of the interesting details about his life, which included 30 years on the street, they started to put some of the thoughts about helping the poor into a practical structure.
They thought, "If other people could hear this story, they would be moved, just like us and want to help. If there was only a way that people in the community could hear this story and be able to help him, personally............"
That was the seed of homelesspartners - listing the stories and Christmas wish lists of the homeless on a website so that others could read the story and give a gift and caring message - a practical way to help the poor. Afterall, that's what everyone is looking for - to be loved and cared for, and this is a way that people could do it practically, safely and personally.
Then they met with the Director of the Lookout Society, Karen O'Shannacery, who had the foresightedness of how the project could help. A simple website was constructed, and although it was only about 3 weeks before Christmas, they sent out press releases to the media so that the community could hear about www.homelesspartners.com, where the stories from the interview forms, filled out by the homeless, were posted.
To their great surprise, Dan and Jennie did interviews with TV, radio and newspapers and the response was overwhelming - the shelter received more gifts than ever before - although it taxed the staff-sacrificing personal Christmas time to sort the unanticipated overwhelming response of gifts.
In 2006, Dan and Jennie spent Christmas in Calgary, Alberta and began the project there while it carried on in Vancouver. In the following years they continued to encourage other cities to participate in the project. They, and the city coordinators, did many media interviews in local and major newspapers like the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, the Las Vegas Sun, the Vancouver Sun and Province, the Calgary Herald, the Idaho Statesman, as well as some local and national TV interviews and many more.
By 2008 it had grown to 9 cities in the US and Canada including one of the projects undertaken by the University of British Columbia, Social Work department in Kelowna. This year, the cities who have committed to participating so far are: Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Kelowna, Victoria, Portland, Oregon, Boise, Idaho, Las Vegas, Nevada, Dallas and McAllen, Texas. Several other cities are still pending.
Dan and Jennie work on the homelesspartners project throughout the year now. They encourage anyone who wants to start the project in their city to contact them. They are always looking for discount items commonly requested, like coats, boots and clothes, so they can be listed for online ordering. This year they are hoping to add some videos of the interviews with the goal that some of them will go viral. They encourage everyone they can to use their twitter and facebook accounts to let others know about the project and they hope that it will be as encouraging to others as it has been to them.