Project H.E.L.P aids Atlanta’s homeless population

From providing sandwiches to free vaccinations, Project H.E.L.P is a local non-profit whose mission is to spread kindness and resources to those experiencing homelessness in Atlanta. Photo by Melissa Mendez for Project H.E.L.P

The Project H.E.L.P Atlanta Chapter is composed of those that have a passion for making a difference in the lives of others. With the slogan “humanity evolves from loving people,” this organization has a mission of assisting those experiencing homelessness. 

Daniel Farr, the founder of Project H.E.L.P said “It is a collection of individuals that came together out of an intrinsic need to kind of give back to the community.” 

The organization started in September of 2020 with the idea of wanting to help those that are vulnerable in the community, that many times are forgotten and looked over, especially during a pandemic.  

The past year and a half have opened the eyes of many across the world to their own needs and humanity. For those at Project H.E.L.P, it has expanded the way they approach aiding those experiencing homelessness.

What began as handing out sandwiches and care packages, the 11 member team and recurring volunteers have expanded into providing hygiene resources, food truck catering, haircuts, wellness checks and job opportunities among other resources. 

Farr says that their organization wants to create these types of experiences to help those experiencing homelessness have a moment to feel seen and take a break. Project H.E.L.P’s recent Juneteenth event showcased the expansion of the organization, along with how the Atlanta community is showing their support through partnerships. The non-profit strives to work with organizations that are like-minded and serve the community. 

Board member and partnership coordinator Alisa Phouthavong says many businesses jumped on board, and more than 40 volunteers showed up to help with the Juneteenth event. The Project has received several grants from Walmart and local businesses like Hero Doughnuts, which helped provide many services like free vaccines, mobile showers and hot meals for the event.

“We couldn’t have done this without [our partnerships],” Phouthavong said. “The bonds that we’re building and the rapport is [helping us] continue to strive and grow.”

Another aspect of Project H.E.L.P is a campaign called Humanity Heroes, that Hero Donuts sponsors. It is a program that helps educate and bring awareness to Atlanta’s homeless issue Members of the organization go downtown and ask for people to tell their stories to dispel the misconceptions surrounding homelessness. 

This is board member and volunteer coordinator Eryn Pulliam’s favorite campaign. People often assume what people experiencing homelessness want or need, but she has learned so much about their real feelings by having a conversation. 

“You get their story, highlight their humanity and understand why they are where they are,” Pulliam said. “It’s one of my favorites just because we get to talk to them and provide them something sweet to eat afterward.”

After such a large-scale and successful Juneteenth event, the team at Project H.E.L.P is planning on scaling down and returning to their roots with meals and resource kits, while encouraging fun. For these types of events, the organization rents a clubhouse and creates a friendly atmosphere so that volunteers can feel good about helping others while also enjoying the experience.

To get involved or donate, Project H.E.L.P’s website, Instagram and Facebook pages have more information. Events occur quarterly, and anyone can sign up online and a volunteer coordinator will reach out to provide details. ProjectHelp – Atlanta – Home

As for the future of Project H.E.L.P, Phouthavong has a very goal-oriented mindset and wants to see the non-profit expand. 

“I feel like we’re gonna have an office Downtown and be there for the people when they need to help,” she said. “In terms of the city of Atlanta and homelessness, we can help in such a big way and we’re still just getting our feet wet.” With her public health background, Pulliam wants to find ways to make their programs more sustainable and widespread through policy changes. 

“I think that’s what we’re looking for in the future, and how we can maybe lobby with other organizations to make real change and impact in the Atlanta community,” she said. After only almost a year since its establishment, Project H.E.L.P has seen great support and success, and the team wants to expand to help as many people as they can, starting with a sandwich and ending with eventual self-sufficiency. 

“I think that the real goal is being able to get people jobs with opportunities, because these individuals, [sometimes] they’re in this position because of a bad decision, but it’s mainly the lack of resources and opportunities,” Farr said. 

In 2020 there are approximately 3,200 homeless people within the city of Atlanta, and Project H.E.L.P is actively working towards making a real social change. 

 “The thing that’s always kept us pushing as a collective is knowing that whether we help ten people or 500, that someone’s going to be getting helped by the good deeds that we do,” Farr said. “So it makes it all worth it.”