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NOTE: The Distribution time has changed to 1:00pm at the arch 500 E 7th Austin, TX.
This past fall, LIFT-Chicago launched a partnership with the CITYPAK Project, a Chicago nonprofit that distributes durable, theft-resistant, and versatile backpacks to meet the varying needs of the homeless.
The idea for this partnership first began when Director of Programs at LIFT-Chicago, Sol Anderson, saw an article featuring the organization in the publication Timeout Chicago. Sol knew that these backpacks – which have extra layers and closures to prevent water from seeping in, the capability to lock onto one’s body, and a collapsible poncho attached to cover both the bag and the owner – would be an amazing resource for many of LIFT-Chicago’s members. As Sol Anderson notes, “many of our members who are homeless or live in shelters have to face the loss of their belongings on a regular basis, CITYPAKs really help to protect against that. Beyond that though, we always want to partner with organizations that are looking for simple, yet innovative ways to help our most vulnerable neighbors, and we want to be able to provide as many different types of support as we can for our members.” The versatile capabilities of the CITYPAK allow people in constant transition or living on the street, a safer and more convenient way to transport their belongings with them.
As a result of CITYPAK’s generous donation, LIFT-Chicago was able to give 31 of its members an invaluable gift just before the holiday season. LIFT-Chicago staff identified some of its most devoted members currently living in unstable housing or on the streets who would benefit from the CITYPAK bags. In LIFT-Chicago’s Uptown office, 22 CITYPAKs were distributed and 9 in the Pilsen office. Each member who received a backpack was incredibly thankful. Many of them immediately ripped off the packaging, opening up each pocket eagerly peeking inside. Dani Lubin-Levy, a Site Coordinator at LIFT in charge of the CITYPAK distribution, noted “the gratitude each member showed after receiving a backpack was so touching. It was clear that having a new, versatile bag to put all of their belongings in and to ease each move they made was going to make a difference.” Upon their next visit to LIFT, after receiving their bag, members repeatedly thanked the LIFT staff. Elgin, one of the members who received a CITYPAK, remarked that the bag makes his daily life easier. He said, “It has a lot of compartments, a lot of space in it for different things that you need. It has a lot of room for the day-to-day things you might carry with you. It’s been great.” Undoubtedly, through LIFT-Chicago’s collaboration with the CITYPAK Project, we are able to offer new resources to support more of our members and looks forward to continuing this partnership in the future.
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Thanks to Sinai Temple for providing 100 CITYPAKS for the 4th Presbyterian Church’s Sunday dinner program.
Art Fox displayed these wonderful images of Chicago’s Homeless at Chicago’s Sinai Temple.
Donor Eddi Henry & DeNiesha Calvert from Safe Place for Youths being presented a CITYPAK.
“The built in rain tarp is going to save me a lot. I have lots of papers that I don’t want to get wet.”
“This is so cool. I hope it lasts forever.”
“These will be great for bike riding.”
“It fits all my stuff, even my sleeping bag. It actually looks complicated but I’ll figure it out.”
“It looks like a cool messenger bag like the bike messengers use. But it doesn’t move around because of the straps.”
“This could even carry a skateboard!”
“This is great, the one I have sucks.”
“This backpack is going to help me out so much.”
“It fits everything, even my old messed up backpack”
“My favorite thing is the picture of the Chicago skyline.”
“I really dig this poncho.”
“I bet I could fit everything I have in here.”
The CITYPAK Project – led by co-founder of international booking agency Monterey International, Ron Kaplan – will visit Austin during the SXSW Music Conference to distribute backpacks to local area homeless. Working together with exclusive manufacturing partner High Sierra – and with the financial support of Austin-based business donors SXSW, GSD&M, Monterey International, AEG, and High Road Touring – 1750 custom-designed CITYPAKs will reach Austin-area homeless in need.
A formal distribution of 1000 CITYPAKs will be hosted at ARCH at 9:30 am on Wednesday, March 12 during SXSW. Homeless clients of local organizations Caritas, Family Eldercare, Foundation for the Homeless, Salvation Army, Trinity Center, and Front Steps will be at the event to receive the PAKs. Complete distribution event details are included below. The remaining 750 CITYPAKs will be distributed via the individual organizations during the second part of 2014.
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We want to thank two generous donors who provided the funds to bring CITYPAKS to San Antonio & LA
Eddi Henry’s donation provided 100 CITYPAKS to Safe Place for Youths in Venice, CA
Doc & Ellen Stephens from Keller Williams’ donation provided 100 CITYPAKS to Haven for Hope in San Antonio, TX.
This was made possible in both cases, by the CITYPAK Project & High Sierra matching their donation.