Living on the streets can rob a person of many things. Generally, the first to go is personal hygiene and soon after that, the alienation sets in. The lack of personal hygiene can cause others to shun and shy away when what is needed most is a personal connection, a smile, a simple “hello.”
Kenneth Eakins, Outreach Case Manager, affects change in both of these areas with Hope Bags which are filled with various hygiene items that provide the homeless with basic, daily necessities, and most importantly hope. He distributes these bags as he rides through the city in the Star of Hope Love-In-Action van.
The Hope Bags offer those Kenneth encounters a way to gain some personal dignity and a way to feel “normal” again. Clean teeth and hair and a fresh pair of socks “mean more to me than you’ll ever know” one homeless man said. The bags also offer Kenneth a way to establish an ongoing connection and develop a lasting rapport. With that continued engagement, he is able to earn the trust of individuals who have been forgotten and cut off from the community. He goes out every day and is there again “always right on time” offering HOPE in a bag of hygiene items and a personal visit.
With the trust he has earned, Kenneth then begins to positively influence the lives of those on the streets. He helps establish goals for improving health, connecting with family and friends, establishing income through employment or other mainstream sources, and obtaining housing.
At our recent Spark New Beginnings Annual Banquet attendees had the opportunity to create Hope Bags for Houston’s homeless. It was truly a joy to see the smile on people’s faces as they took part in this awesome activity, filling each individual Hope Bag with love and care for those in need. They filled the Hope Bags with hygiene items such as: toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, clean socks, and other basic needs items.
Last year, Kenneth distributed 2,100 such bags a month and helped navigate more than 100 individuals into permanent housing! And…it all started with a little Bag of HOPE!