Sunday, March 24, 2013
When Innovation Creates Profound Compassion
I am fascinated by how people find creative and innovative ways to help others - the logistics of solving a problem and showing compassion. A perfect example of this is GIVETOKENS.org which is based in Portland, Oregon.
In just about any group conversation I've had about giving money to the homeless, there seem to be a couple of different ways of approaching the issue. The one I subscribe to is that it's good to give freely and how they will spend the money is up to that person. However, some hesitate to give to people on the streets for fear that the money will go toward funding an addiction of some kind. If this hesitation or concern is the only thing that is keeping you from giving to those who you pass by on the streets, this is the perfect solution.
If you've never been homeless, it can be hard to imagine how much stress and crisis is involved in just trying to do everyday, ordinary things. There are many homeless people who have jobs, but worry about how they're going to wash their next load of laundry to be ready for the next work day. Many homeless people are looking for jobs, but figuring out how to get their next haircut may be yet another enormous challenge. While there are (limited) resources available, like temporary shelters, the crisis for a homeless person is paying for the transportation to get there.
The tokens from GIVETOKENS.org are specifically redeemable for food, clothing, shelter, haircuts, transportation, and other practical necessities. I got this at Poppa's Coffee Haven, where they make the coins available for purchase, and also accept them as payment so someone can get in from the cold for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate to warm up their hands and heart.
The concept is that you give the card with the coin attached so that the recipient can read the list of places on the back where it can be redeemed. While this is Portland-based, I am excited to find out if this is, or will be, available in other cities as well. Individual businesses can decide on what the value of the token will be when used at their business. The back of the card lists some of the businesses that accept the tokens, and if you go online, you will see even more.
Travis Vanstaaveren, a Gen Xer, is the creator of Sanctity of Hope and the branch of the organization called GIVETOKENS.org. His studies in business at OSU, as well as his studies in philosophy and theology at Marylhurst University, were the perfect combination of bringing together logistical business solutions for a pressing ethical issue in our society. This is innovation and compassion coming together in a profound way.
Every time I turn around, I see yet another Gen Xer doing extraordinary things for the world.