Easing the Burden of Homelessness in Georgia
To ease the burden of homelessness, one backpack at a time.
Homelessness is one of the most debilitating public health crises. In Georgia, over 10,000 people sleep on the streets at night. Our goal as a student-run, 501(c)(3) non-profit is to provide these clients with backpacks full of supplies to help them rise above their circumstances. Each of the 40 items in our backpacks fulfills an unmet need for the homeless populations of Athens, Atlanta, and Augusta. We identify service gaps within the homeless community by administering research surveys and strive to fill those gaps by distributing backpacks to those in need. We believe that creating a dialogue through our research-based approach adds value to our services. The feedback we receive is directly incorporated into the contents of future backpacks. We make winter & summer backpacks, and within each season, men's & women's backpacks, to more closely approximate our clients’ specific needs at any given time. Our distribution of quality, durable backpacks is a vital service to our community.
In May 2019, TBP hit a huge milestone, distributing our 6,000th backpack at our home in Athens, GA. As we continue to accelerate in growth, we impact new clients who give us new ideas for backpack supplies. Each backpack costs less than $20 and contains over 40 items of food, clothes, toiletries; however, we continue to discover unmet needs and constantly strive to improve our services. Currently, we are working with the United Way to include maps of local resources, like shelters and free clinics. This grant would enable us to innovate further by adding bus passes and flashlights to our backpacks. It would also allow us to reach more people and improve more lives by funding 1,350 backpacks filled with over 54,000 items, including waterproof gloves, rain ponchos, collapsible water bottles, microfiber towels, and more—all hand-delivered. In our experience, a 10-minute conversation can dispel a lifetime of assumptions about homelessness and those experiencing it.
We believe immediate needs must first be fulfilled in order to accomplish long term change. This theory rings especially true for those experiencing homelessness. If your hands are freezing and your lips are chapped, how can you be expected to focus on your education? However, a pair of gloves and a stick of lip balm can make a difference. Simple items, such as those in our backpacks are not band-aid solutions, but tools enabling empowerment. Thus, we strive to alleviate the immediate needs of our clients, allowing them to devote more attention to long-term goals. We believe that small actions create big change. This is why we partner with many institutions such as the United Way and the Salvation Army to provide our clients with the highest quality and breadth of service. Our ultimate goal is to ease the burden of homelessness, even if the process starts with a single backpack. Giving one person a backpack won’t change the world, but for that person, their world will change.