The “2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book” by the Annie Casey Foundation, states that one in five kids who age of the the foster system become homeless at the age of 18. This statistic has led me to wonder about the lives of the homeless. So when my friend, Telisa Steen (Seattle based actress), asked meta join her on a Black Friday visit to the homeless camp down the street from her Grandmother’s apartment I jumped at the chance.
We started the afternoon at a nearby Costco store where we purchased blankets, socks, underwear, hygiene products, and food. Then we set out to the camp, not knowing what to expect.
We were greeted at the gate by the head organizer of the camp who welcomed us in. The camp has only 17 residents at present. There are strict rules: (1) no drugs or alcohol, (2) lights out and quiet time after 11 PM, (3) only smoke in the smoking area, (4) no fighting (5) a membership fee of $20 per family must be paid monthly. Everyone has an assigned job to do to help keep the camp going. There is a Monday night meeting to plan for the week. A ledger is kept up to date of all donation and expenses (so the camp can be accountable to all patrons). They also take turns guarding the camp at night.
To become a member of the community, a homeless person is given a three day trial period. They must follow all of the rules and perform their assigned job to become a member of the community. At the end of the three day period, if they have met these requirements, they must contribute her $20 monthly membership fee.
Second Chance’s model has been so successful that the city government has asked them to expand and house a total of 100 of Seattle’s homeless. The camp gladly accepted the challenge and will be expanding their camp site in January.
Finding Family and Right Now Today (a non profit run by Gregory Marks) will be making more visits to the Second Chance Camp in both December and February. If you live in the Seattle/Tacoma area, and would like to come along, please join our mailing list!